Boys volleyball team holding trophy

Eight winners were crowned July 3 on the first medal day at the 2021 USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championship. More than 560 teams are competing at the event in Kansas City.

Team Rockstar 14 (Long Beach, Calif./SCVA)won three tough matches on the final day of competition to emerge victorious in 14 Open.

Their first match of the day was a 31-29, 22-25, 15-12 barnburner against WPVC Boys Armour Black (Orlando, Fla./Florida). Rockstar stormed back to win that third set after being down 2-7. After defeating Excel 14N (Carrolton, Texas/North Texas) in the semifinal, Rockstar beat MB Surf 14s 1 (Manhattan Beach, Calif./SCVA), 27-25, 26-24 to take gold.

“It’s been such a tough year for the kids,” said Rockstar assistant coach Cody Oreiro. “It was a really big deal … us being in L.A. the entire city shut down … that we found a home in volleyball. It was really remarkable to have us band together as a team like this and to be able to compete at this level.”

In 14 Club, Arizona Fear 14JS (Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona) defeated SASVBC B14-1 (Honolulu, Hawaii/Aloha) in three sets (30-28, 22-25, 15-4) to win gold. It was Arizona’s fifth three-set match of the tournament.

Head coach Joaquin Santa Cruz echoed other coaches about the difficulty of the last year due to the pandemic. He also praised Kansas City for hosting the event.

“I think Kansas City did a great job with this environment,” he said. “This is one of the coolest championship courts I’ve ever been a part of.”

In 14 USA, 352 Elite Boys Adi 14 Lime (Ocala, Fla./Florida) lost just one set (on the first day of the tournament) and defeated UVC 14 Miz Los Cab (Irvine, Calif./SCVA) for gold.

Assistant coach Juan Negron said 352 originally played this year in the 15 division but dropped down to 14 to adjust the level of competition.

“They improved so much in a short time and we are very proud of them,” Negron said. “We are very proud of the parents, too, for [supporting] us. We are blessed to be here.”

Balboa Bay (Newport Beach, Calif./SCVA) won both the Open and Club divisions on Saturday.

In Open,  Balboa 15 Blue defeated Bay to Bay (Campbell, Caif./NCVA) 15-1, 25-22, 25-23,  for the title.

“[We’re] really proud of the journey that these boys took and all the hard work they put in,” said assistant coach Kyle Anema.

In Club, Balboa 15 White defeated MOD Elite B15 Blue (Skokie, Ill./Great Lakes) in three sets, 25-15, 23-25, 15-11.

Balboa Bay continued its winning ways in the 16 age group, as the club’s 16 Blue team captured the Open title over 630 Volleyball 16-1 (Darien, Ill./Great Lakes), 25-20, 25-15. Balboa did not lose a set in the tournament.

“Our kids have just worked super hard,” said head coach Rich Polk. “There were times when we could practice; there were times when we couldn’t. There were times where we had to wear masks; there were times when things opened back up, and this group was super resilient and able to make it happen.”

Bay to Bay 16-2 collected the 16 USA title with an amazing 25-22, 22-25, 15-9 win over Ocean Bay 16 Waves (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Florida).

“It’s a crazy ride,” head coach Josh Nolan said. “This team started off not doing very well; had a lot struggle throughout the year. The last thing we expected was to come into this tournament and do as well as we did. We had some tough matches against some really, really good teams.”

In 16 Club, Victory 16-1 (Gilbert, Ariz./Arizona) defeated Ku’Ikahi 16R RoShamBo (Honolulu, Hawaii/Aloha) for gold, 25-17, 25-16. Victory played 14 matches in the tournament without dropping a set.

“Winning’s always good. Winning cures a lot of things,” said Victory head coach Jeff Grover. “It’s fun for these boys to see some other volleyball players and other teams from everywhere. There’s a lot of good competition all around, so it’s great to be part of it.