SANTA MONICA, Calif. (July 31, 2019) – A week of training and three days of competition culminated in the finals of the USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships on Wednesday on Santa Monica Beach.
Champions were crowned in the international and national divisions in six age groups.
In many cases, players on the winning teams had not competed together until this week, but still found a way to succeed.
Girls U19 International
Olivia Bakos (right in photo above) and Xolani Hodel (left in photo above) formed a dream team that stormed its way through the tournament without dropping a set. In Wednesday’s final, Bakos/Hodel beat Maya Harvey (Hermosa Beach, Calif.)/Allison Hansen (Everett, Wash.), 21-17, 21-12.
Bakos, who is verbally committed to play beach at USC, finished second in U17 last year. Hodel, who recently verbally committed to play beach volleyball at Stanford, finished fourth.
“We did a good job of having good ball control and running smart plays,” Bakos said. “We kept it simple and didn’t try anything crazy. We just played the game we both know we can play.”
“We definitely gelled as a team really well from the start,” Hodel added. “Just staying consistent really helped us.”
Bakos, who lives in Manhattan Beach, and Hodel, who lives down the road in Huntington Beach, kept open the possibility of playing together again.
“I usually split block, so it was different for me to play defense all the time,” Bakos said. “Our coaches taught me different strategies to play on defense.”
“I learned a lot in the blocking aspect of it,” Hodel said. “Even in the HP training, working on the delay blocks, the angle, the threes, the fours, I feel I learned a lot.”
In the third-place match, Caitlin Moon (Fair Oaks, Texas)/Katelyn Hashman (Austin, Texas) beat Katherin Reilly/Calista Wright (Newbury Park, Calif.), 16-21, 23-21, 15-4.
Boys U19 International
It was an intense all-Florida final as Dylan Zacca (Pembroke Pines)/Kade Lahner (Miami Beach) beat Adam Hartmann (Cooper City)/Caleb Kwekel (Sarasota), 20-22, 21-19, 15-13.
“These are our buddies from Florida,” said Zacca, who finished third in U17 in 2018. “We know them really well. We knew it was going to be tough. I’m just happy we got to play them. I love them. We’re super close to each other.”
Grant Strong (Clearwater, Fla.)/Kyle Johnson (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) took third place over the Canadian team of Luke Hyde/Max Losier, 21-15, 21-13.
Girls U17 International
Ava Gallien (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) paired with Hailey Hamlett (New Braunfels, Texas) to win the championship over Savannah Standage (Redondo Beach Calif.)/Macy Butler (Austin, Texas), 21-14, 17-21, 15-8).
Gallien/Hamlett had to recover from a tough three-set loss in pool play to make it to the final.
“The next day we came back and just tried to pull it together,” Gallien said. “We had made a lot of errors, so we just tried to keep the ball on the court.”
When asked what she learned from her high-performance experience, Gallien said, “How to set a lefty. I learned how to do that.”
In the third-place match, Ashley Vincent (Atlanta, Ga.)/Kelly Belardi (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) beat Chloe Hooker (San Diego, Calif.)/Bailey Showalter (North Bend, Wash.), 17-21, 21-19, 15-13.
Boys U17 International
An all-Canadian final saw Nathan Dunne/Matthew Rugosi defeat Kenneth Mann/Markus Law-Heese, 23-21, 21-15.
It was the first time Dunne/Rugosi had ever played in California and it took some getting used to.
“It was our first time here,” Dunne said. “It was pretty nice but a little windy.”
“The sand is pretty hot,” Rugosi added. “It was a rough start for me. I had trouble adjusting to the sand. I just finished a week of court.”
“We played better in the finals when it mattered,” Dunne added.
Girls U15 International
Florida’s Jordan Boulware (Tallahassee)/Ashley Pater (Bradenton) beat Julia Waugh/Koko Kirsh in the final, 21-9, 21-11. Emma Glagau/Ruby Sorra of Canada took third over Julia Capps/Zoey Henson, 18-21, 21-17, 15-12.
Boys U15 International
Sean Kelly (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) /Carson Strawbridge (Virginia Beach, Va.) came together from opposite coasts to win the division. In the final, the pair beat another far-flung team, Lukas Anderson (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)/Caleb Blanchette (Brentwood, Tenn.), 21-15, 21-13.
Raglan Kear/Ford Harman beat Harrison Girard (Greenwich, Conn.)/Ethan Romero (Cypress, Texas) for third place, 21-11, 21-17.
Girls U19 National
1 Saskia Hernandez/Mila Yarich
2 Sadie Shipman/Madi Noble
3 Jaime Santer/Megan Montieth
Boys U19 National
1 Jack Walmer/Travis Hannemann
2 Jacob Miller/Riley Chapman
3 Logan Shepherd/Connor Sheehan
Girls U17 National Gold
1 Hayden Wooldridge/Madison Binkley
2 Kate Clermont/Josephine Sek
3 Kaitlyn Winkelman/MayaMay Brown
Boys U17 National
1 Jim Garrison/Ryan Peluso
2 Tyler Busse/Matthew Stith
3 Luca Curci/Jack Ebertin
Girls U15 National
1 Hannah Byers/Sofia Williams
2 Kenzie Miller/Alex Adishian
3 Audrey Little/Grace Hong
Boys U15 National
1 Owen Keely/Tread Rosenthal
2 Aarush Yakgna/Stone Seligson
3 Luca Curci/Jack Ebertin