This is not your average backyard type of summer tournament. The Waupaca Boatride/US Open Grass Volleyball Tournament started as a men’s and women’s grass triples tournament followed by a boat ride held in Waupaca, Wisconsin. The 35 year old tournament grew…
This is not your average backyard type of summer tournament. The Waupaca Boatride/US Open Grass Volleyball Tournament started as a men’s and women’s grass triples tournament followed by a boat ride held in Waupaca, Wisconsin. The 35 year old tournament grew and grew every year and now it is held in Oshkosh, WI after a brief stint in Wisconsin Dells. While there are no longer any boat rides, this grass triples tournament has grown into a 4-day volleyball event, with a juniors clinic (run by Lloy Ball) and other adult and juniors tournaments on the days before and after the main attraction – the triples tournament held on Saturday.
As someone who has participated in this tournament since 2003 (only missing for my best friend’s wedding, pregnancy, and ACL surgery), this is the best weekend of the whole year! It is like a BIG family reunion and the perfect example that volleyball is a lifelong sport and there is so much more than just indoor hard court 6’s. Each variation is a whole new game. You can change surface from hard court to grass or sand (beach), change the number of participants anywhere from 2-6 on each team, and you can stick with your own gender or play co-Ed.
Now if THAT wasn’t enough, they added a twist to co-Ed quads where you can play reverse co-Ed quads and the male players cannot attack above the height of the net, so the ladies get to take the swings! This tournament hosts over 1600 teams registered to play over 4 days, and players, including pros such as Casey Jennings and Lloy Ball, come from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. So, WHY are we talking about this tournament, besides the fact that it is AWESOME? Well, because we had prep athletes playing!
Friday, July 13th, Juniors Quads-
While the 18U only had 6 registered teams, there was still plenty of talent there. Pool play consisted with round robin style, playing 2 sets to 21. After that, the top 4 went on to a playoff bracket. I had Team Haugen pegged as a favorite, having previous success at Boatride, and they didn’t disappoint.
1st place was taken in a pretty dominant fashion by Team Haugen from Minnesota who had two members,and Alena Molden, that were a part of a team that won the 16U Quads in 2017.
– 2019 – 5’10” – Setter – Edina HS – Mizuno M1 17-1s
– 2020 – 5’7” – Libero – Lakeville North HS – Mizuno Northern Lights 16-1
Alena Molden – 2019 – 5’6” – Libero – Lakeville, MN – Mizuno M1 18-1s – Committed to University of New Mexico
– 2018 – 6’1” – Middle Blocker/Right Side – Lakeville, MN – Signed to Concordia-St. Paul
2nd place was taken by a solid Wisconsin crew.
Teegan Nichols – 2018 – 5’11” – Middle Blocker – Oshkosh, WI
Cora Strand – 2018 – 5’6” – Setter – Oshkosh, WI
Jacey Morgan – 2018 – 5’9” – Outside Hitter – Oshkosh, WI
Leah Welch – 2018 – 5’6” – Libero – Oshkosh, WI
This division was open for the taking, with most of the top teams from last year moving up to 18U or not returning. As soon as I saw who was on Team Leach, I knew they would be a favorite, so I wasn’t surprised to see them win in a pretty dominant way.
– 2021 – 5’7” – Outside Hitter – Burlington – Milwaukee Sting 15 Black
-2021 – Libero – Burlington – Milwaukee Sting 15 Gold – Committed to Marquette
Amanda Veil – 2021 – Defensive Specialist/Outside Hitter – Burlington – Milwaukee Sting 15 Black
– 2021 – 5’11” – Right Side – Wisconsin Lutheran – Milwaukee Sting 15 Black
With some solid talent like Madison Neuman (Green Bay Preble), Kendall Ahern (St. Mary’s Springs), Gianna Trotter (Fond du Lac),(Wautoma), Randi Welhoefer, and (Oshkosh West), I was surprised to see a different team made it into the finals. With this kind of talent, to compete with Team Nichols had to be one solid and competitive group to take 2nd!
Tayja Nichols – 2020 – 5’10” – Middle Blocker – Oshkosh North – Impact 16 Blue
Madigan Carlson – 2020 – 5’4” – Setter – Oshkosh West – Impact 16 Blue
Amber Ryan – 2020 – 5’7” – Outside Hitter – Winneconne – Impact 16 Blue
Lili DeJong – 2020 – 5’9” – Middle Blocker/Right Side – Appleton West – Impact 16 Blue
Now the 14’s division was wide open, and it was some tough competition. There were some youngin’s out for this one, and they were holding their own. Consolation and Championship matches were played out in the pouring rain. In the consolation championship, there was an impressive group from Marathon, WI. Sisters, Vanessa (2022) and Ava (2024) Krueger paired with Julianna Thurs (2022) and Alyssa Hall (2022). The Krueger girls are the daughters of Lynn (Olsen) Krueger, who is a UW-Whitewater Hall of Famer from her college playing days in the 90’s.
The championship was played by 2 teams that were actually pretty familiar with one another, even though they are from different states. In June, Capital 14 Navy knocked off Vital 14-1 Gold in the Challenge match to get into the Gold Bracket. Well, the results weren’t different this time around, with the team of Capital players (Team Raley) taking out the Vital players (Team Meyer), but what a fun match to watch (21-18, 23-21)!
– 2022 – Outside Hitter – Columbus – Capital 14 Navy
– 2022 – Defensive Specialist – Lake Mills – Capital 14 Navy
– 2022 – Setter – St. Paul’s Janesville – Capital 14 Navy
– 2022 – Outside Hitter – Savanna Oaks – Capital 14 Adidas [player_tooltip player_id="81271" first="Jordan" last="Karlen"] sets up Team Raley.
held down the defense in middle back while ran the offense. Jordan did a great job of getting the ball out to her hitters, giving them plenty of options and making the block work on the other side. Raley and Bobb made smart choices, knowing when to hit the line and when to make a hard cut. Bobb was still swinging hard in the championship, which is impressive considering the long day.
Melanie Meyer – 2022 – Outside Hitter – Vital 14-1 Gold
– 2022 – 5’6” – Right Side – Vital 14-1 Gold
– 2022 – 5’7” – Outside Hitter – Vital 14-1 Gold
Cameron Berger – 2023 – 5’8” – Setter – Vital 14-1 GoldCameron Berger sets up Team Meyer
This group was a blast to watch! Cassie and Ellie are twin sisters; Cassie is a lefty and Ellie is a rightie. Better yet, they play doubles (more on that to come)! Melanie Meyer’s aunt, Larissa Cattanach, was a dominant force in the middle for UW- Milwaukee from 1999 up until 2003. Cameron is the young one of the group, but you wouldn’t be able to tell!