Balboa Bay mounts comeback for 18 Open title at BJNCs

By Karen Patterson (karen.patterson@usav.org) | July 02, 2016, 4:24 p.m. (ET)

18 openDALLAS, Tex. (July 2, 2016) -- After multiple second-place finishes in recent years, Matt Ctvrtlik was ecstatic to end his high school volleyball career with a gold medal. The Balboa Bay 18 Blue (Southern California) setter commanded a potent offense to the 2016 Boys' Junior National Championship 18 Open title on Saturday, defeating Sports Performance B18 Mizuno (Great Lakes) 22-25, 25-20, 16-14 in the championship match.

"My high school basketball team lost in the state finals, in volleyball we lost in the finals; I've had two Junior Nationals second place finishes... It's nice to win a first place," Ctvrtlik said. 

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After winning the first set of every single match during the tournament, Balboa Bay found itself in an unfamiliar position after Sports Performance raced out to a Set 1 victory behind strong serving and relentless blocking and attacking led by All-Tournament honoree Tyler Mitchem and Zachary Meyer. Outside hitter Noah Dyer's dynamic attack and Cameron Kavoosi's strong blocking powered Balboa Bay to an early lead in the second set. 

Ctvrtlik consistently spread the ball, providing multiple one-on-one match-ups against the block for Balboa Bay. For the recent high school graduate, sharing the victory with his father and Assistant Coach, Bob Ctvrtlik, is particularly sweet. A member of the gold-medal winning 1988 U.S. Olympic Men's Team, Bob Ctvrtlik reveled in the chance to coach his son.

"These guys have such great energy and enthusiasm, and they never quit," Bob said. "It was a lot of fun to coach them and coach my son."

All year the Balboa Bay coaching staff emphasized this season was about more than just winning a national championship, Bob said.  

"We’re trying to prepare these guys for college, not just a tournament. There’s a whole mental game that goes on. At this level all these players are strong and physical. We’re just trying to prepare them for the next level and have a lot of fun doing it," he said.

Sports Performance showed its mental fortitude late in the third set when it fell behind 4-0 early, and battled back to tie the set on a Mitchem block. Although Sports Performance never regained the lead, the Chicago-area team consistently forced Balboa Bay to elevate its play with scrappy defense and blocking. A Mitchem kill denied Balboa Bay match point, but the Californians sealed the win two points later when a Sports Performance player was called in the net on a Dyer attack.

The 2016 Boys' Junior National Champhips title matches began Friday with the 12s division. Hosted in Dallas for the second time since 2012, the 2016 tournament features 464 courts on 39 courts. The 12 and 18 age divisions began competition on Wednesday, June 29; the event concludes on July 6.

Saturday features the 18 Open and 18 Club finals, as competition for other age divisions continues.

In addition to the championship tournament, the U.S. Men's National Team is playing three World League matches, also in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The U.S. plays Bulgaria Friday night at 7:30 p.m. central. Fans can watch live on NBC Sports.

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The team faces Australia on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. central and Russia on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. central. Saturday's match also will be shown on NBC Sports, while fans can watch the match against Russia live on NBC.

18 Open
Gold: Balboa Bay 18 Blue (Southern California)
Silver: Sports Performance B18 Mizuno (Great Lakes)
Bronze: Manhattan Beach Surf Nike 18s (Southern California)
Bronze: SCVC 18Quiksilver (Southern California)

18 Club
Gold:
 OCVC 18s (Southern California)
Silver: Cinci Attack 18 Black (Ohio Valley)
Bronze: MVC B-18 (Badger)
Bronze: Vanguard 18 Gold (Ohio Valley)