Arizona Team Takes 16 Open Title

By Jessica Hall | July 03, 2014, 5:57 p.m. (ET)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (July 3, 2014) - Arizona Storm 16 Thunder out of Phoenix, Ariz., defeated TAV 16 Black of Fort Worth, Texas, 26-24, 25-21, on Thursday to win the 16 Open division at the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

16 Open Championship
  Arizona Storm 16 Thunder celebrates its win with a dogpile.

Arizona Storm (Arizona Region) went undefeated (10-0) throughout the tournament and went 20-3 in sets. The Phoenix team is back-to-back Open Division Champions after winning the 15 Open Division Championship in 2013.

“I’m so happy,” said Storm Captain Katherine Oleksak, who was named MVP of the 17 Open division. “I’m a little overwhelmed but it’s so great to feel this feeling again. I hate losing and our goal was to 2-peat so I’m happy we accomplished that goal.”

Head Coach Teresa Spann said her team overcame some challenges to take the title. The team’s pregnant assistant coach stayed home and the team was struck by two key injuries in the weeks before Nationals.

“They played phenomenal the whole tournament,” Spann said. “We had a few bumps along the road, but they stepped up when it mattered most and took care of business.”

Tying for third was Madfrog 16’s N Blue out of Dallas, Texas, and Northern Lights 16-1 out of Burnsville, Minn. Madfrog fell to Arizona Storm in the semifinals, 25-18, 25-17. Northern Lights fell to TAV, 25-17, 27-25.

Other winners in the 16s division were AVA TX 16 Attack (Lone Star Region) in the USA, Rockwood Thunder 16 Mizuno (Gateway Region) in the National, Heartland Junior 16-1 (Heart of America Region) in the Patriot, Rage Rick (Northern California Region) in the American.

16 Open All Tournament
MVP: Katherine Oleksak (Arizona Storm 16 Thunder)
Darrielle King (Texas Advantage 16 Black)
Natalie Haben (Mizuno Northern Lights 16-1)
Claire Embry (Madfrog 16s N Blue)
Janell Walley (Rancho Valley 16 Premier)
Kathryn Plummer (Tstreet 16-Raul)
Khalia Lanier (Arizona Storm 16 Thunder)
Imani Davis (Texas Advantage 16 Black)
Brittany McLean (Mizuno Northern Lights 16-1)
Jillian Duffin (Madfrog 16s N Blue)
Mariah Evans (Colorado Juniors/Kaepa 16 Sherri)
Ashlyn Dunbar (AVA TX 16 Rox)
Mary Lake (Rancho Valley 16 Premier)
Chandler Atwood (Texas Advantage 16 Black)
Justin Spann (Arizona Storm 16 Thunder)