January Thaw 18 USA, American Recap, Stock-Raising Performances
OMAHA – Now that all the dust has settled from last weekend’s January Thaw USAV Qualifier at CenturyLink Center, it’s time to take a look back at some of the top performances and other tidbits of information to come out…
OMAHA – Now that all the dust has settled from last weekend’s January Thaw USAV Qualifier at CenturyLink Center, it’s time to take a look back at some of the top performances and other tidbits of information to come out of the competition.
Both the 18 USA and 18 American divisions were won by Nebraska teams, which is a great accomplishment for the state. Premier 18 Gold, which already had a bid to the USAV Girls Junior National Championships locked up in the USA division, proved it is going to be a threat to win the national title in that division by winning it all at the January Thaw. Meanwhile, Nebraska Elite 182 Envy came into the American division tournament as the #21 seed out of 25 teams but went on an amazing undefeated run to win it all and clinch a bid to the GJNC.
We’ll start with a look back at the USA division followed by the American division and a list of stock-raising performances by players from Nebraska that competed in those divisions.
Premier 18 Gold coach Nate Mongan would probably be the first to tell you that the depth of the USA division wasn’t anything to write home about. The biggest take away for 18 Gold was probably the fact that despite not needing to win, it still did. Premier breezed through the first two days with its only real scare being a 25-22, 25-23 win over Topeka Impact 181.
Perhaps the most impressive win actually came in the championship semifinals where Premier took on Milwaukee Sting 18 Black. Sting took the first set over Premier 25-22, at which point 18 Gold could have easily packed it in and headed home early in the day still knowing it had a spot in the GJNC anyways. Instead, Premier came back to take the final two sets 26-24, 15-6 and then pretty much controlled the entire championship match in a 25-20 25-19 win over Asics Mavs 181.
It was a rough start to the tournament for Club Legacy 18 ROX, but after dropping its first five matches, ROX came back to win its final three to finish in 15th place out of 18 teams in the USA division.
It seemed for a bit that the 18 American championship could be an all-Nebraska match with both Nebraska Elite 182 Envy and Performance 18 NIKE reaching the semifinals, but Northern Lights 18 Black was able to get some revenge on Performance 25-20, 25-22 in the semifinals. A day earlier, Performance defeated the same Northern Lights team 26-24, 25-21.
Elite Envy, meanwhile, survived a 25-22, 14-25, 15-10 semifinal victory over Iowa Power Plex 18U to get to the finals and a chance to compete for the GJNC bid against Northern Lights 18 Black. The teams split the first two sets in the championship match and Northern Lights was able to keep a slim lead throughout most of the third set and was up 10-8 before Elite made its comeback.
A kill by Omaha Duchesne’s Julianna Kalil made it 10-9 and then back-to-back hitting errors by Northern Lights put Elite up 11-10. A kill by Northern Lights’ Emma Brostrom tied it at 11, but Kalil then tooled the block to put Elite back on top 12-11. An Elite hitting error would tie it at 12-12 but then Omaha Gross setter Olivia Galas’ push to the deep corner put Elite back up 13-12.
After Elite got called for a net violation to tie the final set at 13-13, a set too tight to the net resulted in a Northern Lights hitting error and on match point, Northern Lights’ serve reception put a ball into the net which its setter wasn’t able to dig out, giving the title and GJNC bid to Elite Envy.
It capped an improbable run in the tournament for Elite Envy. Not only was the team one of the bottom seeds in the field, but it was playing without two middles that it recently lost for the year when Kearney Catholic’s Madison Shoemaker suffered a knee injury and Madison Lihs of Clarinda, Iowa, suffered a shoulder injury.
Performance 18 NIKE finished 6-2 in the tournament and tied for third while Premier 18 Black went 3-4 and tied for 11th place. TeamMagic went 2-5 and finished 13th and Banzai 181 finished with a record of 6-2 and finished 15th after getting a brutal draw in its opening-day pool assignment.
Brooke Frederickson (North Bend), 5’11, OH, Premier 18 Gold – Class of 2018 #25
I think Frederickson is on her way to earning a top-20 spot among the players of 2018 the way she has been playing the first month of the club season. Playing in the shadow of West Virginia recruit Kristin Lux at North Bend, Frederickson has gone from looking like she will be a nice player for Midland University to potentially being an impact player right away. She had 11 kills in the two-set win over Asics MAVS 181 in the USA final.
Mckenzie Michalek (Papillion-LaVista), 5’7, Libero, Premier 18 Gold – Class of 2018 #78
During her high school career Michalek was never able to grab the starting libero position but the Omaha recruit has pretty much always been a libero throughout her club career. She’s one of three back row players joining an Omaha program that already brings back libero Claire Mountjoy, but Michalek looked good over the weekend and showed she’s ready to compete for court time in college.
Makenna Freeman (Omaha Westside), 5’10, OH, Nebraska Elite 182 Envy – Class of 2018 #149
Freeman is looking like she will be one of the biggest movers when the player rankings are next released as she has been a big weapon for Elite’s 182 Envy team. She has a good power arm on the outside and is athletic enough to make some plays. At least three local colleges noted over the weekend how impressed they were with her. She’s uncommitted now, but that’s not going to likely last much longer.
Ally Glaser (Papillion-LaVista) 5’9, Utility, Nebraska Elite 182 Envy – Class of 2018 #46
Glaser is basically the human swiss-army knife when it comes to her ability on the volleyball court. She has the athleticism to play anywhere on the court, as she showed by playing a really solid MH this past weekend for an injury-riddled Elite 182 Envy squad. She can hit and block at either of the pins, can be a back row specialist and has even spent time as a setter. She’s the type of player every college program needs – and Concordia University is getting her.
Grace Hern (Omaha Marian) 5’8, Setter/DS, Performance 18 NIKE – Class of 2018 #86
I really enjoy it when players get a chance to show off their abilities when there hasn’t been the opportunity to do so in the past. Such was the case this weekend with Hern, a CSU-Pueblo recruit who sat behind a lot of talented players at Omaha Marian. Running the show as setter for Performance 18 NIKE, Hern brought a lot of stability and play-making skills to the court and showed she could have been a major impact player for 90-95% of the high schools in Nebraska.