HP Championships Crown 7 Winners

By Bill Kauffman | July 27, 2014, 3:18 a.m. (ET)


TULSA, Okla. (July 27, 2014) – The five-day USA Volleyball High Performance Championship was capped by an intense championship day that crowned seven champions over the course of 16 marathon hours on Saturday that stretched into Sunday morning at the Cox Business Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Women’s International Junior Division
USA Junior A1 Red captured the Women’s International Juniors title with a 20-25, 25-20, 28-26, 13-25, 15-7 victory over Puerto Rico Juniors in the seventh and final championship match.

“We changed our blocking schemes,” USA Junior A1 Red Head Coach Andrew Wehrli said in regards to changes after the first set loss. “The kids did a great job making adjustments, and we executed our game plan in a way that allowed us to fight right back in.”

“We all knew that we had worked hard the previous days and that we just wanted it,” Taylor Hughes (Columbus, Ohio, Minonette Sports). “We wanted to prove ourselves that we belonged out there. The training days that we worked for that moment, we just left it all out there and that helped us rally for the win.”

Puerto Rico Juniors opened the first set with a 7-2 lead and held on for a 25-20 victory. USA Junior A1 Red evened the match with a second-set 25-20 victory, then charged back from a 22-19 deficit in the third set to win 28-26 on its fourth set point opportunity to go up 2-1. Puerto Rico Juniors came back from the third set disappointment to establish a 10-5 advantage in the fourth set and forced the fifth set with a 25-13 victory.

USA Junior A1 Red erupted for a 4-0 advantage to start the tiebreaking fifth set and reached the side switch leading 8-3. USA Junior A1 Red maintained control the rest of the set for a 15-7 victory.

Being in the HP pipeline with success at this level further bolsters the players’ thoughts they can achieve their dreams if they set their goals on it.

“Every one of these players has the opportunity to move into our National Team program, and the opportunity to play international volleyball and compete against the best of Puerto Rico is a tremendous opportunity,” Wehrli said.

“Being here and being with the coaches and being with amazing athletes has definitely influenced my decision to keep trying to push and hopefully get to the Olympics sometime,” Hughes said.

USA Junior A1 Red reached the championship match with a 6-1 record with its only setback to Puerto Rico Juniors. USA Junior A1 Red advanced to the title match with a 3-0 win over Team Florida HP WIJ in the semifinals.

Puerto Rico Juniors, 6-1 prior to the championship match, avenged a first-round pool loss to USA Junior A1 White by defeating them in four sets in the semifinal to reach the title match.

Team Florida HP WIJ took place with a four-set win over USA Junior A1 White in the bronze-medal match.

Boys’ International Youth Division
Keystone Region HP rallied to defeat USA Youth A1 25-27, 25-15, 27-29, 25-16, 15-10 to finish the tournament 8-0.

“We had a little bit of practice time, two weeks of practice,” Keystone Region Head Coach Joshua Brenneman said. “They came in, we gave them a system to work with, and they stayed within the system for most of the week. It is a hard working group of guys. That is the way we worked ourselves the last couple of days. It shows in our results this week finishing 8-0.”

“It is great to come from a state and play kids nationally,” said Keystone Region setter Jacob Kerschner (Harrisburg, Pa.). “When you play with kids from your own state, it is nice to be able to beat the best in the nation.”

Kerschner said the team’s hard work paid off to rally for the five-set win.

“It shows how much we worked and how much hard practices we had to push through it,” Kerschner said.

Both USA Youth A1 Red and Keystone Region HP entered the title match with undefeated records in seven matches. Keystone, which dropped a total of four sets prior to the championship match, reached the gold-medal match with a sweep of USA Youth A1 Stars in the semifinals. USA Youth A1, which lost five sets heading into the gold-medal match all as part of 3-1 matches, downed Team Florida HP BIY in four sets in the semifinal round.

Team Florida HP BIY finished third following a four-set win over USA Youth A1 Stars in the bronze-medal match.

Girls’ International Youth Division
Team Florida HP GIY avenged its only loss in the Girls’ International Youth Division by defeating Iowa GIY 22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15 in the gold-medal match.

“With this tournament, the girls only come together for such a short time to gel. So that was our second match of the tournament,” Team Florida HP GIY Head Coach Lynze Roos said about falling to the Iowas in the first round. “I think we were getting to know each other still. So we get to this point and get a rematch with a great team. We were a better team by this point. Iowa is a great team and they had some really great challenges for us. But I think by this point five days in, we were really starting to feel it as a team and I think that was the difference.”

Iowa GIY entered the championship match with a 7-0 record with just two set losses. Team Florida HP GIY was 6-1 prior to the championship match, with its one loss a four-set setback to Iowa GIY.

“I think losing to them earlier in the week was pretty upsetting because we knew could have beaten them,” Sorrel Hougton (Osteen, Fla.) said. “If we could play as a team, we knew we could be successful against them. And then coming out in the final game, we really worked together and got excited. We just came on and got our confidence and worked well together.”

Badger Girls’ IY won the division’s bronze medal with a four-set win over SCVA Youth.

Girls’ National Youth Division
Lone Star HP Youth A1 rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Iowa GYN 20-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-8 to win the Girls’ National Youth Division gold medal.

“We all stepped up and played hard,” Lone Star HP Youth A1’s Camille Conner (Katy, Texas) said. “Even though we were down, we pushed hard.”

Lone Star HP Youth A1 grabbed an early 6-3 lead in the fifth set continuing its momentum from the third and fourth sets, but a 3-0 run knotted the score at 7-all. However, the Texans scored eight of the final nine points to win 15-8.

“I think we just relaxed,” Lone Star HP Youth A1 Head Coach Zheng Xiang said in regards to his team recovering from a 2-0 deficit. “We were a little nervous at the beginning, we kind of got that out of our system and then settled in and played how we knew we could play. We were more patient. We were okay with transitioning, working hard and taking second and third swings. As the game went on, we got a little more comfortable. We started to hit our corners and where we wanted to put the ball.”

Lone Star HP Youth A1 lost just once prior the championship, a five-set contest to Keystone Region Girls KEY in the second round. Lone Star HP Youth A1 bounced back to sweep USA Youth Continental White in the semifinals.

Iowa GNY lost twice en route to the championship match, but did not let that deter them. After suffering its second loss (vs. USA Youth Continental White) of the tournament to end the second round, Iowa GNY swept Keystone Region Girls KEY in the semifinals to advance to the gold-medal match.

Keystone Region Girls KEY took the bronze medal with a four-set win over USA Youth Continental White.

Girls’ National Select Division
Team Florida HP GNS captured the Girls’ National Select Division title by sweeping Puerto Rico Select 29-27, 25-19, 25-20 in the gold-medal match.

“I am so proud of our region and what they have accomplished,” Team Florida HP GNS Head Coach Flavia Siqueira said. “We barely see these players, they play for so many different clubs. They know each other, but they never play together. For us coaches to have the opportunity to work with them for a few days only, bring them together as a team is an amazing experience. We are very happy to part of Team Florida and to be able to come out here and play our best. Everybody got a chance to play, they all demonstrated their ability in different positions. We are very happy.”

Both Team Florida HP GNS and Puerto Rico Select were undefeated in the tournament heading into the gold-medal match. Team Florida HP GNS was undefeated heading into the gold-medal match having lost just two sets along the way. They beat Aloha Region GNS in four sets in the semifinal round to advance to the title match. Puerto Rico Select stopped Team Ohio Valley Region Select in four sets in its semifinal round match.

“It is amazing,” Team Florida HP GNS captain Lindsey Pilapol (Daytona Beach, Fla.) said. “We just worked as hard as we could and played together and it worked. It feels great to be able to say we are undefeated and win. We really learned how to play with each other. We communicated well with each, and communication is key in volleyball.”

Aloha Region GNS swept Team Ohio Valley Region HP Select to win the division’s bronze medal.

Boys’ National Youth Division
NCVA Youth Red went undefeated in eight matches, capped by winning the Boys’ Youth National Division gold medal with a 25-18, 21-25, 25-21, 25-20 victory over USA Youth Continental Red.

“They all are just total game guys,” NCVA Youth Red Head Coach Roger Hauk said. “Nobody ever gave up. They never lightened up, even in practice. So we knew we were going to do well. They just really clicked well as individuals, only some know each other.”

“Originally we thought we were going to be in the International Division,” said NCVA Youth Red’s Kalen Stewart. “When we came here and told we were going to be in National Division, so that was a little let down. But that kind of invigorated us to really do well. We decided we are going to win the championship, it wasn’t an option for us. Going undefeated was really fun to see our hard work pay off.”

NCVA Youth Red advanced to the title match with an undefeated record and had dropped just one set, that to USA Youth Continental Red in pool play on July 23. NCVA Youth Red topped Team Florida HP BNY in three sets in the semifinal round.

USA Youth Continental Red, whose only loss until the championship match was to NCVA Youth Red, blanked USA Youth Continental White in the semifinals to reach the title match.

USA Youth Continental White finished third after defeating Team Florida HP BNY 3-0 in the bronze-medal match.

Boys’ National Youth Regional Division
In the Boys’ National Youth Regional Division, USA Select Continental Red defeated Puerto Rico Boys’ Red 24-26, 25-23, 15-25, 25-22, 17-15 in the gold-medal match. USA Select Continental Red trailed 13-10 in the fifth set and saved three match points before winning 17-15 on its first match point opportunity.

“It was really good to see them win in five,” said USA Select Continental Red Head Coach Donan Cruz. “This was our fourth match going five, our second one in bracket play. It is really good to see our guys making plays down the stretch. At this age we really want them to get very familiar with the dig-transition play when it is down the wire, and I think we did that to extend the rallies and able to be terminal on the play. I am super excited for them that they could experience that at this level against an international team.”

Cruz pointed out several players had stand-out performances to allow for the comeback.

“I thought our libero did very well, we were steady for serve-receive which made it a little more difficult for us to be defended. Our setter did a good job of distributing the ball, especially down the stretch in game five. Overall it was a very good team effort. We got off to a slow start, and it took all the guys, both on and off the court, to make sure we were rallying.”

USA Select Continental Red reached the title match by defeating Ohio Valley Region Youth White 25-21, 25-17, 18-25, 23-25, 15-9 in the quarterfinals and NCVA Youth White 15-25, 25-17, 25-22, 29-27 in the semifinals.

Puerto Rico Boys’ Red advanced to the gold-medal match by stopping USA Select A1 Stars 25-17, 25-21, 25-11 in the quarterfinals and USA Select Continental White 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 in the semifinals.

NCVA Youth White came away with the bronze medal with a 3-1 victory over USA Select Continental White.