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Indianapolis, Ind. (July 2, 2016) – Champions in the 17s Divisions were crowned at the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championship today at the Indiana Convention Center. The 2016 GJNCs conclude tomorrow with five divisions of the 16s and championship finals that begin at noon – 3p Eastern.

The 17 Open Division was won by a team coached by a 1984 Chinese Olympian and boasts players who have committed to schools like Duke, Illinois, Wyoming, Oregon State, TCU, Texas Tech, Clemson, and Oklahoma.

(Streaming has been restored with one camera on courts 1 and 2 for the most part. Championship matches are being recorded with full TV production and loaded onto the USA Volleyball website for viewing. For example, yesterday’s 18 American title match is now online here.)

17 Open

TAV 17 Black (NT) defeated HJV 17 Elite (LS) 25-23, 25-20 to win the 17 Open Division. HJV beat TAV in pool play earlier in the week. This was the eighth matchup of these two Texas teams this year; TAV went 7-1.

The Texas Advantage Volleyball club or TAV is located just north of Dallas/Fort Worth in Carrollton. Ping Cao, former Chinese Olympian in volleyball, has coached the 17s and in the last seven years his teams have won four national titles, a silver and a bronze.

Payton Schwantz, a TAV outside hitter, earned the 17 Open MVP Award for the tournament. She will be attending Duke University in the fall.

“We started with a team of small outsides and newer middles,” she said. “They started fresh out of high school and started playing more competitively. It was cool seeing Ping bring them together, up to the level of people who were playing since they were 10 or 11. It was two separate teams coming together, the old TAV team and the old Skyline team coming together and just trying to find out mesh and refining our skills. That’s how we’ve been rolling this whole season.

How’s your coach? “He’s the best coach I’ve ever had by far. He’s amazing. He just knows every aspect of the game. He’s so knowledgeable. He has experience and has been in the players’ shoes. He’s helpful when he screams, so it’s like a good sense of it, but he’s not personal. He’s always about making you better, becoming a better volleyball player.

What was the key to winning this tournament? “Just staying strong and listening to the coach. Not being frustrated with each other and continually encourage everybody. Keeping it at one game at a time; that’s what we tried to do.

17 American

MadFrog 17 N Blue (NT) won the 17 American Division, 19-25, 25-11, 15-10, over Rancho Valley 17Premier (SC). Lexie Douglas was the 17 American MVP.

Who’s your coach? “Michele Tucker,” said Lexie. She’s amazing. She’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. She pushes us to do our best all the time. She makes it a really safe environment for us in practice and in games. She’s just really hard on everybody, but it’s like tough love.

What did she teach you? “Before I started playing this year I had not done six rotations at all. Coach Tucker helped me to become a six rotation player, playing six rotations all the time in every single game. She made me mentally tougher too by doing that.

And she’s been so great being pregnant also. We’ve all been supporting each other and she’s been supporting us even while being pregnant. I think she’s five months along.

So does that mean your team is all potential babysitters? “I don’t know about that.”

You’re not signing up for that? “No.”

17 National

NKYVC 17-1 Tsunami (PR) beat Topeka Impact 17-1 (HA) to win the 17 National Division, 25-22, 17-25, 15-8. Peyton McCarthy was the 17 National MVP.

Who’s your coach? “Taylor Tanner. She’s amazing. She’s not only a coach, she’s a friend. You can do to her with whatever and she listens to your opinions. It’s great having someone who understands.

Peyton was in the finals two years ago, but was unable to play due to a broken foot. So she was excited about playing and excited about winning the title and the MVP award, but there was one other thing that she was excited about.

“It’s National Handshake Day,” she said. “I was pretty excited to do my handshake on National Handshake Day.”

Can you maybe describe the handshake or is it a secret?

“I have a handshake with every single player on the team. Some of them get pretty complicated, some are pretty easy. I’ve been doing the same handshake with everyone since the very first game.”

17 USA

Club H 1 – Kevin won the 17 USA Division over TAV 17 Blue (NT), 25-16, 25-21. Cammie Sanchez was the 17 USA MVP.

How are you feeling? “Amazing.”

“I’ve been playing this sport for nine, 10 years. This is the first time I’ve ever medaled in anything like this. I haven’t felt anything like this before. And I’m MVP. I can’t believe it.

Who’s your coach? “Kevin Wray. He’s the most supportive coach I’ve ever had. I’ve had a lot of coaches throughout this crazy roller coaster and he’s great. He’s hands on with everything. Just the most supportive guy you’ll meet.”

What did he teach you? “He’s taught me to respect my teammates and to cheer on everyone every point. And don’t take it for granted because it’s going to end one day. You never know … and that’s what he’s taught me the most.”

17 Open
Gold: TAV 17 Black (NT)
Silver: HJV 17 Elite (LS)
Bronze: Top Select 17 Elite Blake (FL)
Bronze: Rockwood Thunder 17Mizuno (GW)

17 American
Gold: MADFROG 17’s N BLUE (NT)
Silver: Rancho Valley 17Premier (SC)
Bronze: Invasion 17-Black (HA)
Bronze: Brazos Valley 17 National (LS)

17 National
Gold: NKYVC 17-1 Tsunami (PR)
Silver: Topeka Impact 17-1 (HA)
Bronze: Alamo 17 Premier (LS)
Bronze: CIA 17 Black (IA)

17 Patriot
Gold: Spiral 17 Under Armour (AZ)
Silver: CVA Colorado 17 Roshambo (RM)
Bronze: LAVA South 17 Adidas (SC)
Bronze: NIVA FLAME (HO)

17 USA
Gold: Club H 17-Kevin (SC)
Silver: TAV 17 Blue (NT)
Bronze: TX Tornados 17 Mizuno (LS)
Bronze: DYNASTY 17 Black (HA)