The Ridgecrest Starlings Volleyball Club U14 team completed the Southern California Volleyball Association tournament season last weekend by participating in the SCVA U 14s Regionals Tournament.
The Starlings were seeded 32nd out of 32 teams in the Brass Region. On Saturday the Starlings began their weekend playing on Court A1 at the American Sports Center in Anaheim, CA. During team warm-ups the Ridgecrest Starlings managed to sprain an offhand finger on one of their outside hitters, sprain the right shoulder of a defensive specialist, and one of their starting setters took a solid spike to the face just two minutes before the first match started.
The Ridgecrest Starlings were in a pool with the 1st seed team from the Moreno Beach Volleyball Club, the 16th seed team from the San Gabriel Volleyball Club and the 17th seed team from the SHS Volleyball Club from the San Fernando Valley.
Reeling from the sudden onslaught of injuries the Starlings set out to do something they had not needed to do all season – play hurt. In their opening match against the San Gabriel Volleyball Club the Starlings put on an almost flawless team serving performance, with four members of the team delivering serving streaks of six or more serves. Strong performances by defensive specialists Jazmine Stenger-Smith and Brooke Nelepovitz led their team to a first match victory, 25-14 and 25-14. Nelepovitz valiantly tried to end the second game from the serving line with six consecutive serves that included 3 aces before her injured shoulder gave out and ended her serving opportunities for the weekend.
Next up was the 1st seed in the region from the Moreno Beach Volleyball Club. Maggie Champeny led the charge in this match with over 12 serves and a solid spiking performance proving to her teammates that her injured finger was not going to slow her down that weekend. Unfortunately the Starlings came up short in this match 21-25 and 22-25.
The last match of the day was against the 17th seed team from the SHS Volleyball Club in the San Fernando Valley, which having already beaten both the other teams in this pool was looking ahead to an easy first place finish. The Ridgecrest Starlings rallied behind their team Captains Sammi Anderson and Alyssa Ochoa who combined for an impressive 25 serves. Stifling blocks by Miss Ochoa, Laura Metcalf and Ashley Sherrick drove the Starlings to a loud and exciting 25-19 and 25-20 victory.
The Starlings ended their first day in a three way tie, at 2-1, for first in their pool with the Moreno Valley and SHS teams. The first tie breaker was game record which eliminated the Moreno Valley Team. The Starlings won the second tie breaker over SHS to take the day, and retire to a family BBQ at their motel to celebrate their upset filled day.
Day two of the tournament had the Starlings playing at CSU Dominguez Hills as the new number one seed against another team from the San Gabriel Volleyball Club, a team from the Rancho Santa Margarita Volleyball Club and a team from the Bakersfield Club Jamba team.
Again the Starlings started the day by playing strong against another San Gabriel Volleyball Club team. Highlighting the first game was the serving of Rebecca Dwyer and Ashley Sherrick leading their team to another 25-14 victory. The serving duties in the second game were picked up by Laura Metcalf and Maggie Champeny. While Ashley Sherrick added seven kills for a 25-15 win.
The second match of the day was against the Bakersfield Club Jamba team. This match was the first real let down for the Starlings. They struggled to a 20-25 loss in the first game and completely lost track of themselves in the second game to lose it 9-25.
After a two match break the Starlings were back on the court against the Rancho Santa Margarita team. Powerful serving by Anderson, Metcalf and Champeny and strong front row play from Sherrick and Champeny led the Starlings to 25-15 and 25-20 win.
For the second time in two days the Ridgecrest Starlings found themselves in a three way tie for first at 2-1. However this time the tie-breakers did not go their way and they had to settle for a second place finish. But that was good enough to put the Starlings in the upper bracket of the region’s tournament quarter-finals.
In the afternoon’s quarter-finals bracket the Starlings faced a tall, strong team from the Temecula Volleyball Club in a one game to 25 single elimination match. The Starlings stayed with the Temecula team until the game was tied 9-9 but asking for a fifth upset victory in two days was apparently too much and Temecula slowly pulled away from the Starlings to win the game 25-18.
The Ridgecrest Starlings started the weekend ranked 32 out of 32 teams and returned home to Ridgecrest Sunday evening tied for 5th place in the region. By any standards this weekend’s volleyball tournament was a resounding success for this young team.
This tournament marked the end of the SCVA season. But the Ridgecrest Starlings aren’t finished yet. They have finals, the end of the school year, middle school promotions, the start of summer and only three more weeks to get ready for the Starlings National Championship in San Diego. In a four day event starting on June 19th the Ridgecrest Starlings will compete against some of the best Starlings U14 teams from all over the United States.