USA Volleyball awarded seven championship trophies Saturday in the 17 age division at the 2023 Girls Junior National Championship 14-17 at McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, Ill.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 8, 2023) – Arizona Storm 16 Thunder won the Open division as seven champions were crowned in the 16 division Thursday at the 2023 Girls Junior National Championship 14-17 in Chicago, Ill.
Thursday was championship day in the McCormick Place Convention Center for 16s and 17s.
The GJNC is the United States’ premier junior girls club tournament and attracts college scouts from across the country.
It is the first year that the 14-17 age divisions have been given a separate tournament and their numbers are greater than ever with 1,368 teams registered. There are now seven competitive divisions for each age group in the 14-17 divisions.
Arizona Storm (Arizona) went undefeated in pool and initial bracket play to meet 9-1 1st Alliance 16 Gold (Great Lakes) to decide the 16 Open title.
Arizona Storm was pushed to a third set only twice during the tournament. The club would go undefeated in the medal matches, and emerged victorious from the meeting with 1st Alliance to claim the gold medal with a 27-25, 25-23 final score.
“Well, we’ve been in the finals since, I want to say 13s. We’re used to this, big matches, big everything,” said 16 Open MVP Teraya Sigler. “Last year, we came up short and got second to a very good Alamo team, and so we came to this tournament hungry. We want this. We have grit, we have heart. Being able to play with them was so fun, and when we were down, it was looking at each other like, ‘we’re okay, we’re good.’ So I’m ecstatic that we won. I’m so happy.”
Sigler, an outside hitter, was part of the USA Volleyball Girls U19 National Team that won gold at the Pan American Cup earlier this year. She said she would give the MVP award to her teammates if she could.
“To be able to go with the big dogs and say ‘yes we did that, yes we came out and we had heart,’ she added. “We had hard matches, adversity, we had to battle and it wasn’t easy. If it was easy it wouldn’t be fun, right? It wouldn’t be worth it.”
Nebraska One 16 Synergy (Great Plains) and Tribe 16 Elite Cardinal (Florida) were third.
CoJrs 16Shannon (Rocky Mountain) lost only one match and three total sets on their way to taking the 16 National title.
They met AJV 16 adidas (Lone Star) in the final, a club that had gone 9-1 with 17 sets won to earn a spot in the final. In the end, CoJrs overcame the pressure from AJV 16 adidas, winning the final 25-21, 25-21.
Third went to KC Power 16 Black (Heart of America) and Skyline 16 Royal (North Texas).
MVP United Red (Great Plains) went 10-1 in the tournament and defeated TAV 16 Platinum (North Texas), 2-1 (25-14, 21-25, 19-17) in the final. It was the first three-set match for United since pool play and their third total in the tournament.
City Volleyball 16 Gold (Southern California) and NPJ Salem16 National (Columbia Empire) were third.
The 16 Liberty final was a rematch from Round 2 Group 1 Pool 2, where H Skyline 16 Black (Lone Star) defeated MVA 16 Pedro (Florida) 25-19, 25-23.
It would be the last time that MVA 16 Pedro lost in the tournament as the team would go toe-to-toe with Skyline again after reaching the final. MVA 16 Pedro dropped the first set, but rallied in the next two and withstood the battle to claim gold in the 16 Liberty division with a final score of 2-1 (17-25, 25-22, 16-14).
“It’s our first national title at MVA,” head coach Pedro Penate said. “We’re extremely proud. We’re excited. Everybody at home is crying, screaming; we’re excited to come back home and celebrate with everybody. I think it’s (GJNC) the best tournament in the world. We come here and we compete against the best teams and the strongest team survives at the end.”
MVA player Bianca Hanks echoed that sentiment.
“We didn’t start off the best, but we ended the best and we got the gold medal, so it’s a great tournament,” she said.
MKE 16 White (Badger) and FSJ 16 Elite (Delta) were the third-place finishers.
The 16 American division competition was witness to an upset at the McCormick Place Convention Center. Undefeated Club One Arizona 16 Platinum (Arizona) had only lost two sets heading into a championship matchup with SG Elite 16 Roshambo (Southern California).
Roshambo had lost previously to Platinum in the third pool match of the tournament. The club exacted its revenge in the final with a 25-22, 25-18 victory.
Third place went to Arizona Sky 16G (Arizona) and MJVA 26 Elite (Delta).
Similar to the American division, another club saw their undefeated tournament come to an end in the championship round.
JJVA16 Teal (Florida) had fought its way through five three-set matches and would face yet another in the championship against Arizona Storm 16Lightning (Arizona). Teal evened the match with a 23-25 win in set two, but fell in the third set 15-8. The Storm Lightning squad was the second team to win a title for the club in 16s on Thursday; Storm Thunder won Open.
Gulfside 16U Prime (Florida) and Iowa Power Plex 16U 515 (Iowa) claimed third-place honors.
It was a battle of the undefeated clubs in the Patriot division, and that perfect record had to be ruined for one of them.
NORCO 16 Black 9 (Rocky Mountain) had lost only two sets leading up to the final, with both of them coming against competition in bracket play. Houston Stellar 16 Elite (Lonestar), meanwhile, was also 11-0 and had lost only three sets.
NORCO took the title with a 25-18, 25-12 final score over Stellar..
Third place went to CYVBC Surge 16 Black (Ohio Valley) and Vegas United G16Navy (Southern California).