Two more teams are national champions after day seven at the 2021 USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships in Kansas City.
Spike and Serve Volleyball Club won the 17 Open title Wednesday on the final day of the 2021 USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championship.
SAS (Honolulu, Hawaii/Aloha) fought through the entire tournament, losing three matches early before charging back for a six-match winning streak. They defeated 352 Elite Boys Adi 17 Lime (Ocala, Fla./Florida), 25-17, 25-21, in the final.
Head coach Padraic (Rick) Tune said the win was still sinking in since it’s been so long since a team from Hawaii has captured this title.
“I’m so grateful to be a part of this journey with these young men,” he said. “I’ve been coaching this group since they were 8 years old. It’s our libero’s senior year, so to send him out in this way against a great team like this, with character guys and character coaches, it’s just…the magnitude…and I’ve been in a lot of big matches, the magnitude of this one is…it’s getting me kind of emotional.”
In 17 USA, Arizona Fear (Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona) lost just one match en route to the title, defeating Cincinnati Attack 17 Black (Ohio Valley Region), 25-20, 25-23.
“A lot of these guys have never won a state or a club tournament like this,” head coach Keith Smith said. “It’s just awesome and I’m proud of the guys. It’s been a lot of work; they’re a great group of guys. They put in the time, and they’ve earned it.”
SMASH 17-1 (Boston, Mass./New England) won 17 Club, its first title in the boys program history, with a 25-16, 25-12 victory over Bay to Bay 17-2 (Campbell, Calif./NCVA). SMASH head coach Jeffrey Vautrin said the team came together despite a lack of practice.
“All year, we were kind of held down, couldn’t practice that much,” he said. “This was actually our big first tournament of the year, and we’re actually missing about three of our guys. I hope they were watching back home and cheering us on.”
Balboa Bay 18 Blue (Newport Beach, Calif./SCVA) was back on top of the Open division in 2021, sweeping to the title with an 11-0 record. Balboa won the silver in both 2018 and 2019 after winning gold in 2016 and 2017.
This year, Balboa defeated Pacific Rim 18 Orange (Pleasant Hill, Calif./NCVA) in the final, 25-14, 25-23. Head coach Andy Read said the team re-evaluated its focus after finishing third in a few tournaments this year.
“We came back and said, ‘we have to be a better serving team; we have to create more serving pressure, and we have to be true to who we are as a team,’” Read said. “We emphasized that. I think we were the best serving team in this tournament this year, which really gets the teams out of systems and off the net.”
He added that it was amazing to see the players come back and win 18s after missing their 17s year. In 2018, the same group won gold in 16 Open.
In only their second tournament of the year, Chicago Bounce 18 Red (Great Lakes Region) won the 18 USA title over Pipeline 18-1 (Schaumburg, Ill./Great Lakes), 25-21, 25-21.
“With the facilities being shut down due to COVID, we played in the tournament in St. Louis, the qualifier, back in February, and that’s really it,” said head coach Steven Wolf. “It was occasional practices when they would let us use the building.”
Bounce lost two of their first three matches, but then won eight straight (including two three-setters) to close out the tourney.
Legacy Boys 18 Elite (Santa Clarita, Calif./SCVA) went 12-0 and won 18 Club with a 25-20, 31-29 victory over 630 Volleyball 18-1 (Darien, Ill./Great Lakes). Legacy lost just one set in the tournament.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and down with guys getting hurt, and we’ve been injury-plagued all year long,” head coach Kevin Ker said. “But I told the guys that if we start to peak at the right time, we could be successful. And sure enough, here we are. We’re national champions now.”