OMAHA – What the 18 Open division may lack in ranked teams this weekend at the Asics President’s Day Classic, it more than makes up for in individual talent.
The 12-team division features just one nationally ranked team (Mizuno Northern Lights 181) but features many players headed to the next level. The division is divided up into two six-team pools with pool-play taking place both Saturday and Sunday. The top two teams in each pool then advance to Monday’s championship bracket.
Johnston 18 National is the top-seeded team in the tournament, but the team out of the Des Moines area is something of an unknown at this point in the season.
The same can not be said for #2 seed Northern Lights 181, which is ranked #21 in the nation and has a roster full of future Division I players. Local fans will want to get to know the team’s 6-foot setter/RS Hannah Angeli, as she is an Omaha recruit and known as having superlative technical and fundamental skills.
Ellie Veldman is Northern Light’s other setter and the 6-1 junior is a North Dakota recruit. The team’s liberos are Jenna Weidner – a High Point recruit – and Natalie Haben, who is a Purdue recruit. Northern Lights also features three Division I middles in Jenae Alderson (Providence), Kathryn Graf (Bradley) and Lauren Bright (Lehigh).
Both of Northern Light’s OH are big-time with 6-1 Minnesota recruit Brittany McLean and 6-foot Kansas State recruit Rachel Stark. Ashley Brueggeman is a 6-2 RS that’s headed to North Dakota.
Central Iowa Select is the #3 seed in the tournament and features 5-11 OH Karlie Taylor, who is headed to Northern Iowa.
Premier 18 Gold is the #4 overall seed and what the team lacks in size it makes up for with depth as the team has no player on its roster taller than 6-foot.
Papillion-LaVista South setter and Nebraska Wesleyan recruit Taylor Crandall runs the show at setter while Omaha Marian’s Andie Hanus, a Missouri recruit, anchors the back row with Elkhorn’s Nicole Skovsende (Midland) and Bellevue West’s Courtney Morehead (Drake) both playing the DS role. On the outside, Augustana recruit Sophia Terwilleger of Omaha Marian is joined by Auburn’s Taylor Petersen (Midland) and Omaha Skutt’s Alyssa Woodman (Rockhurst). The front row is completed with Bellevue West’s Hannah Dubas (Belmont Abbey), Millard North’s Jayden Thies and Omaha Skutt junior McKenna Kirkpatrick.
The #7 overall seed in the tournament is Nebraska Elite 18 Mirage. Omaha Marian all-state setter Maren McGuire runs the show at the net while Northern Kentucky libero recruit Jaden Thiem of Elkhorn South anchors the back row. Wyoming recruit Halie McArdle of Gretna is joined in the front row by Paxton Throne of Millard South, Wayne State recruit Madeline Knobbe of Guardian Angels CC, Augustana recruit Payton Rosendahl of Columbus Lakeview, Briar Cliff recruit Grace Whitlaw of Fort Calhoun, Dani Carlson of Elkhorn and Alissa Milota of Omaha Duchesne.
Mizuno Northern Lights 182 is the #5 overall seed and has some local connections as well. The team’s 6-2 pin hitter Chloe Dousette is an Omaha recruit while libero Haley Kauth is headed to Wayne State.
Here is how the pools are divided for competition on Saturday and Sunday.
Pool 1 – Johnston 18 National, Premier 18 Gold, Mizuno Northern Lights 182, Conway Juniors 181, Rocky Select 18 Black, CIA 18 Black.
Pool 2 – Mizuno Northern Lights 181, CIS 18M, Club North 181, Nebraska Elite 18 Mirage, Kairos Elite 18 Adidas, Gold Cal Jrs 18 Air.
In the 18 Club division there are 36 teams with Platform 18 United being the #1 overall seed. Club Legacy 18 ROX is the highest-seeded team from Nebraska at #18