ORLANDO, FL – While Nebraska Juniors 181 Black worked some magic on Day 2 of the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships, the hardest work still lies ahead for coach Gwen Egbert’s team.
Nebraska Juniors 181 Black opened play Wednesday with a stunning 29-27, 18-25, 15-10 win over Mizuno Northern Lights 181 and stayed hot the rest of the day, defeating Lexington United 18 Adidas 21-25, 25-18, 15-8 and Club Solano Velocity 25-11, 25-15 to advance in the 18 Open division.
With its performance Wednesday, Nebraska Juniors 181 Black now sits as the #6 seed among the 16 teams left in the hunt for the national title. Juniors 181 Black also is the only remaining team alive for a national title in the Open division, although play in the 16s and 17s age groups starts later this week.
Competition in the 18 Open division is now down to four pools with four teams each. Those pools will be played Thursday, with the top two teams from each pool advancing to the championship quarterfinals. The bottom two teams from each pool go into a consolation bracket.
In order for Nebraska Juniors 181 Black to reach the championship quarterfinals, it will need to pull off at least one more major upset. Nebraska Juniors 181 Black opens play on Thursday with a match against A5 Mizuno out of Atlanta. PrepVolleyball.com ranks A5 Mizuno #8 in the nation and 12 of its 13 players have committed to D1 schools. Nebraska Juniors 181 Black then takes on #50-ranked 1st Alliance 18 Silver of Chicago and finishes pool play with a match against #11-ranked Munciana. The Munciana match may be the most challenging, as it’s a team stacked with 13 major D1 recruits, including five future Big 10 players.
Nebraska Juniors 181 Black’s defense was its key on Wednesday, led by Omaha Marian’s Brittany Witt, Lincoln Southwest’s Taylor Els and Papillion-LaVista South’s Raegan LeGrand. At the net, Nebraska Juniors 181 Black has gotten balanced performances from Lincoln North Star’s Sarah Allick, Humphrey St. Francis’ Tarrin Beller, Elkhorn South’s Kesley Green and Lincoln Southeast’s Meagen Roth. It was Millard South’s Jamie Hauptman who was really impressive at the net Wednesday along with setters Sara Boothe of Lincoln Pius X and Kylee Wurster of Lincoln Southeast.
In the 18 Premier division, both River City Juniors 181 and Nebraska Elite 181 Freak Show have advanced in championship contention and are guaranteed top-20 finishes in the division. Both teams will compete in four-team pool play Thursday.
In the 15 Open division, Nebraska Elite 151 Revolution lost a challenge match 25-17 to Lexington United 15 Adidas to be knocked out of the title hunt, while Nebraska Juniors 151 went 1-2 to see its championship hopes come to an end.
In the 15 Club division, VCNebraska 15 Elite moved to 6-0 in the tournament while VCNebraska 15 Black improved to 4-2 and both are still in championship contention and guaranteed a top-62 finish.
In 14 Open, Nebraska Elite 14 Havoc dropped all three of its matches and is no longer in title contention. Meanwhile, in 14 Premier, Nebraska ONE 14 Titanium won all three of its matches – two of them being three-set thrillers – and is guaranteed a top-26 finish.
We will update this story later on today as more results from the younger age groups are determined this evening.