Asics President’s Day Classic: 17 Open Preview and Predictions
OMAHA – If you want to catch a glimpse of the future of Nebraska volleyball program, the 17 Open division at this weekend’s Asics President’s Day Classic at CenturyLink Center would be a great place to be. Freshman Husker setter…
OMAHA – If you want to catch a glimpse of the future of Nebraska volleyball program, the 17 Open division at this weekend’s Asics President’s Day Classic at CenturyLink Center would be a great place to be.
Freshman Husker setter recruit Kennedi Orr of Northern Lights 171 highlights a loaded division this weekend which should feature some outstanding matches.
Here is a preview of the 17 Open division along with predictions on how I see it playing out this weekend.
Total Teams: 16
Format: Two pools of eight teams, the top two teams from each pool advance to the championship bracket.
Pool 1: Dynasty 17 Black, Nebraska Elite 17 TKO, Northern Lights 172, Minnesota North 171, CIA 17 Black, Nebraska ONE 17 Titanium, The Edge VBC 17 Walter, IPVA 17 Black.
Pool 2: Northern Lights 171, VCNebraska 17 Elite, Iowa Power Plex 17U Elite, Nebraska Juniors 171, Six Pack VBC 17U, Ozark Juniors 171, Oklahoma Charge 17 UA, Junior Bison VBC 17U Gold.
Top Teams & Nebraska Teams: Northern Lights 171 comes into the tournament ranked #6 nationally and as the favorite to win the title this weekend. And while the local interest might be in watching Orr, the team is stacked with big-time talent. Gabrielle McCaa is committed to USC while Marissa Hinkle is headed to UCLA, Kyndra Hansen and Blythe Rients to Iowa and the duo of Rachel Kilkelly and Ellie Husemann are each headed to Minnesota while Peyton Suess is going to Wake Forest.
Dynasty 171 Black is ranked #47 in the country, but isn’t overly tall but has some high risers and relies on outstanding ball control. Outside hitter Brooklyn Cink is committed to Missouri State.
Nebraska Elite 17 TKO is ranked #54 nationally and is hoping the experience of playing in the 18 Open division at the January Thaw tournament pay dividends this weekend in 17 Open. The emergence of defender Jordan McCormick (Millard West) along with Sophie Moes (Omaha Marian) gives TKO a good ball control combination to feed setter Emma Worthington (Omaha Duchesne). Mackenzie Saitta (Elkhorn South) will look to continue her torrid start to the club season on the outside.
Nebraska ONE 17 Titanium is a legitimate threat to win its pool, depending on how the health of its players is along with their availability because of basketball. For sure, Titanium should have Lincoln Lutheran trio Marriah Buss, Erin Williams and Hope Leimbach and Archbishop Bergan’s Lexie Langley to carry the load.
A really strong case can be made that VCNebraska 17 Elite is the best club team in the state, regardless of age and its match at Noon on Sunday against Northern Lights 171 should be must-watch-volleyball. Kyla Swanson (Wahoo) and Kalynn Meyer (Superior) anchor the middle while setters Alex Lemke (Lincoln East) and Alyssa Rezac (Bishop Neumann) are an underrated duo. Emma Gabel (Lincoln Pius X) is right with the best liberos in the state and Kelsie Cada (Bishop Neumann) and Delaney Humm (Lincoln Pius X) have been on fire the last 4-6 weeks.
Nebraska Juniors 171 is a team to keep an eye on as it seems to be getting better with each passing week. Setter Mara LeGrand (Papillion-LaVista) has a plethora of options, including Kamryn Schuler (Gretna) on the outside and Taya Beller (Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family) in the middle. This is also a team that has the height and block to give teams trouble.
Pool 1 Predictions: If Nebraska ONE 17 Titanium had its full roster available for the entire weekend, I would actually name it my expected winner, but with two of its biggest matches falling on Saturday morning, I just can’t see that happening. I will take a surging Nebraska Elite 17 TKO team to win the pool with Dynasty 17 Black finishing second.
Pool 2 Predictions: Wow – this one is tough, but I think Northern Lights 171 wins a dog-fight against VCNebraska 17 Elite to win the pool and VCN finishes second.
Championship Predictions: I will go with Northern Lights 171 over Nebraska Elite 17 TKO and I’m going to go with VCNebraska bouncing back and beating Dynasty 17 Black in the other semifinal. I think Northern Lights 171 is vulnerable in the serve-pass game and I think VCN makes the adjustments to pull the major upset in the finals and win the 17 Open title.