18 Diamond Qualifies at Sunshine!
Date Posted: 3/10/2020
The first qualifier for any team is always filled with excitement, nerves, and a bit of anxiety. This was no different for all Academy teams and other clubs competing at the Sunshine Qualifier in Orlando, Florida. This tournament is held yearly around St. Patrick’s Day weekend and hosted at the Orlando Convention Center. With over 800 teams participating, it was anyone’s weekend to walk away with the main prize – a bid to USA Girls Junior Nationals in Dallas, Texas this summer.
15, 16, 17, and 18 Diamond teams played in open; 15, 16, 17 Crystal and 14 Diamond fought in USA; meanwhile, 16, 17 Jade and 18 Crystal battled their way through the always large American divisions. Throughout the first day of play 8 of 11 teams were still in contention for gold. Day 2 proved to be even more of a challenge as the fields became smaller, with many 3 set matches from all teams – this day was long for all. Amongst the competition, 4 teams continued to stand tall on their quest for gold – 14 Diamond, 15 Diamond, 17 Diamond, and 18 Diamond.
The third and final day, Championship Sunday came easy to none. 14 Diamond faced a tough USA South team on the final day and ended up falling out in round 1, the 14's earned a respectable 9th place finish. 15 Diamond had a pool of 4 to get through for a possible top 3 finish, they ended up falling out to power house clubs Houston Skyline, A5, and Legacy - the eventual 15 Open Champions. 17 Diamond had a similar fate, a loss to Madfrog and OT knocked them out for a chance at the bid.
18 Diamond however, had it clinched after day 2. With a 3-0 finish on the 2nd day of pool play, they guarunteed themselves a spot in the lone Gold pool. 2/4 teams had previously qualified, automatically guarunteeing them a trip to Reno in May. Entering the pool as the number 2 seed, they breezed past OT 18 Roberto and previously qualified Houston Juniors. The last match of the day to determine the 18 Open champions was against a fierce Houston Skyline team. The gritty match went extras in set 2 but Academy 18 Diamond fell just short, placing 2nd overall on the weekend.
18 Diamond's qualification is the first Open qualification for any team in Academy history! An exciting weekend by all and many more qualifiers to go – up next is Mideast Qualifier for the 18's.
Academy Sunshine Qualifier Finishes:
14 Diamond – 9th/48 in USA
15 Diamond – 7th/32 in Open
15 Crystal – 16th/56 in USA
16 Diamond – 17th/32 in Open
16 Crystal - 21st/64 in USA
16 Jade - 28th/112 in American
17 Diamond – 9th/40 in Open
17 Crystal - 34th/64 in USA
17 Jade - 21st/71 in American
18 Diamond – 2th/16 in Open
18 Crystal - 27th/48 in American
In other news, PrepVolleyball.com, typically covers these larger events and feature athletes who caught their eyes during tournament play. A few of our own were featured in their 'Star Search' series.
Caroline O'Connell, 15 Diamond, was chosen as a 15 Open 'SuperNova' on Day 1
Emani' Foster and Kelly Kaufmann, 18 Diamond, were chosen as 18 Open 'SuperNovas' on Day 2
Jade Demps, Destinee Dorsey, Taylor Nomanson (18 Diamond), Kayla Burbage (17 Diamond), Madison Jones, and Macey Sammons (18 Crystal) were selected as 'Others Who Shined' on Day 2