High-SchoolVolleyball: POWERADE FAB 50

By Kirstin Olsen

WHEATON, Ill. -- The Wheaton Warrenville South boys’ volleyball team, which finished the season with a 42-0 record and the school’s seventh state championship, was honored on Friday as the POWERADE FAB 50 national champions.

Parents, coaches and fans were present at an assembly at the Wheaton Warrenville South gym. The team was led onto the court by a drum line, and principal Dave Claypool spoke to the group and introduced coach Bill Schreier and WWS alums Matt McCarthy (Ball State) and Doug Burchett (Illinois), who also won state championships.

“This has to be considered an incredible honor to cap an incredible season. We have had two previous teams go undefeated. The 2001 team with Sean Rooney went 38-0 and the 2004 team went 41-0 led by Matt McCarthy,” coach Bill Schreier said. “Every trek has its bumps and bruises along the way, and this was no different.

“I do know that I have never had a team as focused and committed as this team. This national championship is a culmination of all of the work that has been put in over the last two seasons. Memories last a lifetime, and this is something that will never be forgotten. To go 84-2 in sets throughout the season is a remarkable accomplishment and cap to a great senior group.”

Senior co-captain Thomas Jaeschke, a 6-foot-6 outside hitter and Loyola recruit, was selected Chicago Area Player of the Year. Senior co-captain Matt Callaway, a 6-8 middle hitter and Penn State recruit, also was a first-team All-Chicago Area honoree. Both were first-team AVCA All Americans.

Wheaton Warrenville South is the first boys’ volleyball team from Illinois to win the national championship.
FAB 50Courtesy of Wheaton Warrenville SouthWheaton Warrenville South capped its undefeated season with a state championship.
Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

The New Jersey Tournament of Champions concluded on Thursday night, and all 50 positions in the final POWERADE FAB 50 for the 2012 boys' volleyball season have been locked up.

With the final rankings also comes the official announcement that the mythical national champion is Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.).

It was considered seriously to move up No. 2 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) due to an advantage in strength of schedule, but it wasn't so much of an advantage that a team should be dropped after already sitting in the No. 1 position.

Wheaton Warrenville South becomes the first Illinois team to end the season No. 1 in the nation in boys' volleyball, and it could be the best team in state history. The Tigers completed their perfect run with a 25-21, 25-13 triumph over Glenbrook North (Northbrook, Ill.) in last Saturday's state championship.

While coach Bill Schreier's squad has never finished 42-0 before, the school has had two previous unbeaten state champions, and on Saturday won its seventh state crown overall.

In the New Jersey final, Fair Lawn defeated previous FAB 50 No. 33 Southern Regional (Manahawkin, N.J.) and moves into the final rankings. Southern Regional stays, too, due to having two previous wins over Fair Lawn.

Click here for the final rankings of the 2012 season.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

Mira Costa Boys VolleyballKirstin OlsenMira Costa survived an epic five-set match against Oak Park and remains No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings.

The CIF Southern California regional championships are in the books from last weekend, and two teams clinched at least No. 2 and No. 3 final rankings in this year's FAB 50.

No. 2 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) was looking for a rematch after going 1-1 with previous No. 3 Westview (San Diego, Calif.). The Mustangs didn't get an opportunity for that because the Wolverines were upset by late-season powerhouse Oak Park (Agoura Hills, Calif.). But Mira Costa certainly was tested in Saturday's Division II final.

Oak Park and Mira Costa, in fact, traded seven match points in a marathon five-set contest. The Mustangs were down in the fifth set 14-12 but, after fighting off four match points, prevailed 24-26, 25-16, 25-19, 24-26, 20-18.

A valiant effort from Oak Park senior outside hitters Justin Parks (23 kills) and Bradley Sakaida (16 kills) was matched by Costa senior outside hitter Chris Orenic (33 kills). Scott Stephanoff (12 kills) also stepped up his game late in the match.

No. 3 Loyola, meanwhile, wanted to turn around a loss to No. 4 Otay Ranch (Chula Vista, Calif.) from last month's Redondo Power Classic in the Division I SoCal final. The Cubs did just that with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-14 win. They were without senior outside hitter Nick Porterfield with a sprained ankle, but senior outside hitter Alex Slaught came up big with 17 kills.

Click here for the complete Week 11 rankings.
Wheaton Warrenville SouthConrad CasteloWith a perfect record and a strong showing by other Illinois teams, Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.) takes over the top spot in the FAB 50 rankings.

Although Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), the CIF Southern Section Division I champion, has a strong argument to be the new No. 1 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, the choice this week instead has gone to unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.).

Coach Bill Schreier's team improved to 36-0 on Tuesday night with an easy win over St. Francis (Wheaton, Ill.) in the regional round of the state playoffs. The Tigers have been No. 1 in Illinois since the start of the season and have not slipped in a single match.

Also helping Wheaton Warrenville South in the rankings is the performance of teams from Illinois in general against other top teams from other states, including a win by No. 11 Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.) over No. 14 Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.).

If Mira Costa only had two losses on the season instead of four, or if the Mustangs had been completely healthy all season, then they'd probably not have dropped behind the Tigers earlier.

One of the reasons Mira Costa was seriously considered to jump past Wheaton Warrenville South is that the Mustangs beat previous No. 1 Loyola (Los Angeles) 25-19, 25-22, 25-27, 21-25, 15-12 in last Saturday's CIF Southern Section Division I finals.

It was Mira Costa's first CIFSS title since 2008. Setter Jackson Carr had 58 assists and 10 blocks while outside hitter Chris Orenic had 24 kills and 10 digs.

Click here for the complete Week 10 rankings.
Loyola VolleyballVbshots.comLoyola (Los Angeles) has a few more hurdles to clear if it wants to claim the mythical national title.

California's sectional playoffs are just about wrapped up, which means it could be one giant hurdle cleared by No. 1 Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.) in its quest to be the mythical national champion.

The Cubs got past No. 6 Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) in Tuesday's semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs with a three-set sweep and will meet No. 3 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) in Saturday's championship.

To hold off unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.), Loyola needs to win that title and then follow it up with a title in the CIF Southern California regional championships.

State championships in Florida and Arizona are now complete with Missouri on track to complete its championships this weekend.

Click here for the complete Week 9 rankings.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

It's the beginning of the end of the 2012 season with the completion of last week's state championships in Hawaii.

In the Division I state final, FAB 50-ranked teams Punahou (Honolulu) and Kamehameha-Hawai'i (Kea'au) hooked up in an epic match.

Punahou, the defending champ, won again, but it wasn't easy as the Buff'n Blu needed a fifth set to prevail 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-11, 15-13. KS-Hawaii's Evan Enriques, the tourney MVP, put on a show and finished with 42 kills.

Punahou had a balanced attack led by Tui Tuileta with 20 kills, Nicholas Andrews with 16 kills and Sean Gruebner with 15 kills and eight blocks. This marks Puanhou's 30th state championship in the 43 years the school has fielded a team.

State championships will be decided this weekend in Florida and Arizona with the various section championships in California getting into full swing.

Click here for the complete Week 8 rankings.
FAB 50Kirstin Olsen/ESPNHSOtay Ranch knocked off No. 1 Loyola at the Redondo Varsity Classic and moves up to No. 6 in this week's FAB 50.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

The Redondo Varsity Classic offered an opportunity for some major upsets last weekend with nine POWERADE FAB 50 teams participating from San Diego to the San Fernando Valley.

There were upsets, including one of the biggest of the season, when No. 1 Loyola (Los Angeles) was toppled in the semifinals by Otay Ranch (San Diego). The event was won by Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach.

Mira Costa, with USC commit Chris Orenic playing for the first time this season after rehabbing an injury, avenged an earlier loss to Westview (San Diego) in the semifinals and then defeated Otay Ranch 25-21, 25-21 in the final. Senior setter and George Mason commit Jackson Carr had 28 assists in the championship match.

Due to the tourney title, Mira Costa inched up from No. 4 to No. 3 in this week's rankings. While the team did lose to former No. 3 Esperanza (Anaheim) earlier in the season, that was prior to Orenic's return.

The more difficult decision was whether to keep Loyola at No. 1 or move up No. 2 Wheaten Warrenville South. Since Loyola still has a win over Mira Costa and could avenge its only loss later in the Southern California regional playoffs, the Cubs stayed in the top spot.

Loyola also will have to deal not only with Mira Costa and Esperanza in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, but other top-ranked squads as well. Its strength of schedule would still trump Wheaton Warrenville South if both teams win out, but with one more loss for Loyola, an unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South would get the edge.

Click here for the complete Week 7 rankings.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

Punahou VolleyballEd ChanPunahou clinched a division title last week and remains in the top 10 of the POWERADE FAB 50.

League championship tournaments this week in Hawaii will be followed by the start of state playoffs next week, but in other states there are still a handful of major tournaments to be played.

In Southern California, the Redondo Varsity Classic will provide an opportunity for nine FAB 50 teams to square off.

No. 1 Loyola (Los Angeles), No. 4 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach), No. 7 Westview (San Diego), No. 8 Otay Ranch (Chula Vista), No. 10 Dana Hills (Dana Point), No. 11 San Clemente, No. 12 Oak Park (Agoura Hills), No. 13 Westlake (Westlake Village) and No. 50 host Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) will all get together this weekend at the loaded tournament.

Since many of the teams also will be in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, the Redondo tourney could be more important in the rankings to Westview and Otay Ranch, the two CIF San Diego Section schools.

This week's biggest mover in the rankings is new No. 15 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.). The Spartans went unbeaten at the Bellarmine Prep tourney in San Jose (Calif.), topping Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.) in the championship match 25-18, 25-19. They went from No. 32 to No. 15 in this week's FAB 50.

Click here for the complete Week 6 rankings.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

EsperanzaTom HauckEsperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) claimed the title at the Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions and moves up to No. 3 in the FAB 50 rankings.

The Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions last weekend in Santa Barbara, Calif., offered the possibilities for some upsets in a match-style tournament, and it did not disappoint.

Previous FAB 50 No. 6 Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) dominated the field with some spirited play and ended its trip with a huge win over previous No. 2 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) in the final.

The Aztecs defeated the Mustangs 25-23, 25-20, 25-23 and finished the weekend 4-0. Sophomore opposite Jake Arnitz led the way with 53 kills in the tournament. He had 17 in the final and added five blocks.

Since Esperanza is not a solid No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section behind FAB 50 No. 1 Loyola of Los Angeles - the Aztecs are not top-ranked in the Orange County Register's poll - that helped clear the way for unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.) to grab the No. 2 ranking in this week's FAB 50.

Wheaton Warrenville South could still get hopped at some point by a top California team, but if the Tigers were to finish unbeaten and win a state title, its chances of being the FAB 50 mythical champion are better this week than before.

Click here for the complete Week 5 rankings.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

With the majority of schools in Southern California on spring break for much of this week and last week, many teams in the POWERADE FAB 50 were idle since the last rankings were compiled.

There was some shuffling at the top of the order, however, after Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) went to the Clash of the Titans in Hawaii and prevailed in matches over two FAB 50 teams from the islands, including one win against previous No. 2 Punahou.

The Mustangs, who also topped Hawaii Baptist during the trip, moved up to No. 2 from No. 4 in this week's rankings. Punahou slipped to No. 5 behind No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.) and new No. 4 Servite (Anaheim, Calif.).

This weekend, 16 teams will play in the Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions at Santa Barbara (Calif.). Mira Costa, Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.), Santa Margarita (Rancho SM, Calif.), Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.), Thousand Oaks (Calif.) and Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) will all be among those competing.

Click here for the complete Week 4 rankings.
Papillion La Vista SouthKirstin Olsen/ESPNHSThe Papillion-La Vista South volleyball team celebrates its second consecutive POWERADE FAB 50 national championship.
By Kirstin Olsen

MORE: Photo gallery of trophy presentation

PAPILLION, Neb. -- In front of a roaring crowd of 1,500 students and faculty, the Papillion-La Vista South girls' volleyball team was awarded the POWERADE FAB 50 National Championship trophy at an all-sports pep rally in Titan Arena on Tuesday.

The Titans, who have won back-to-back national championships and back-to-back state titles, proudly hung their second banner from ESPNHS and POWERADE along with their state championship banners in the Titan Arena rafters. They finished their season with a perfect 41-0 record and have won 82 consecutive matches. They went wire-to-wire atop the FAB 50 rankings.

“Of course it feels great, like winning anything would," junior Amber Rolfzen said. "But it's just nice to look up in the banners at school and see not one, but two, national championships twice in a row.”

Former Cornhusker outside hitter Dani Mancuso, who won a national championship with Nebraska in 2006, was present to speak to the student body and help congratulate the team on the prestigious award.

“Eighty-two consecutive wins are a lot," she said. "It is a huge accomplishment what these girls and coaching staff have done this season, and I hope everyone recognizes that.”

Papillion-La Vista superintendent Dr. Rick Black was also present to award the team with its second Super Bowl-like POWERADE FAB 50 trophy.

The road to the celebration wasn't always easy for the Titans. They were challenged but prevailed in tough matches against No. 4 St. James (Lenexa, Kan.), No. 33 Pius X (Lincoln, Neb.), No. 47 Marian (Omaha, Neb.) and then went on to defeat Burke (Omaha, Neb.) in the Class A state final.

Coach Gwen Egbert thanked the students for their participation and encouraged them to continue to support the team.

When asked about the amazing 82-0 streak, Egbert attributed hard work.

“I think it came through becoming a great team, playing for each other, playing for our school, and through hard work and fundamentals and getting better every day,” she said.

She shouldn't forget the talent.

Kadie Rolfzen finished the season with 402 kills and 382 digs, and twin sister Amber had 312 kills and 289 digs.

Kadie, in particular, seemed to have a knack for stepping up in big matches.

“Egbert is always pushing us in practice, so it’s not just me stepping up my game, it’s the person next to me as well,” she said.

Amber, Kadie and junior setter and Kelly Hunter, all Nebraska commits, were flooded by local reporters with questions, which they handled in stride similar to the way they handled their season.

When asked about the possibility of winning a third consecutive state and national championship, the Rolfzens, Hunter and Egbert were all in agreement.

“The plan is to try and get better and probably try and do it again,” Egbert said. “I hope we can. It's pretty fun.”
There might not have been much suspense about who would be crowned the FAB 50 national champions, but with two fantastic state finals in California involving four ranked teams, the final POWERADE FAB 50 volleyball rankings of the 2011 season do feature some movement.

Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Neb.) finished the season right where it started it, in the No. 1 slot. Palo Alto (Calif.) hung onto the No. 9 position after a dramatic five-set win in the CIF Division I championship game. And Presentation (San Jose, Calif.) moves into the No. 14 spot, one ahead of Division I runner-up Marymount (Los Angeles, Calif.), after winning the Division II state championship.

Click here for the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings of the 2011 volleyball season.
By Kirstin Olsen

PresentationKirstin Olsen/ESPNHSIt was anything but easy, but Presentation won its first ever volleyball state title.

The final two games of the 2011 season were both decided in dramatic five-set fashion. Before closing the book on the season, these two classics deserve a second look.

What: Division II California Interscholastic Federation final

Who: No. 15 Presentation (San Jose) vs. No. 42 La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad)

Score: Presentation 3, La Costa Canyon 2

Game 1 highlights: With a plethora of offensive weapons, including six players over 6-feet, La Costa Canyon came out swinging. Cosy Burnett came up with key kills, and although the Mavericks struggled a bit on defense and with their passing, they took the first game 25-20.

Game 2 highlights: Presentation played great defense and libero Kathleen Bozzo served tough and got LCC in passing trouble, but the Mavericks still prevailed 25-20 to take a 2-0 lead. “We were kind of a deer in the headlights," coach Sue Dvorak said.

Game 3 highlights: With their backs against the wall, the Panthers fought for every ball and didn’t give up, even surviving a match point. Junior outside hitter Alex Sheredy and setter Veronica Blither stepped up their games, and momentum shifted with a 26-24 Presentation win. "As soon as we calmed down and figured out we could play with them, we got a little more confidence," Dvorak said. "Their shoulders relaxed a little it and they started digging balls better and blocking better, and it was a fun match.”

Game 4 highlights: With ninja-like defense and steady all-around play, Presentation dominated the fourth game and won 25-15. Setter/hitter Madison Cooper was a key contributor with her left-handed craftiness and great court sense.

Game 5 highlights: The Panthers got on a roll and never looked back. Cooper served tough, and Emily Sklar closed out the match with one of her 22 kills as Presentation prevailed 15-9.

They said it: “For me it just meant that I could end my high school career on a good note and finish with no regrets. We made school history as the first team to ever win state, and MVP is pretty good.” -- Sklar

Notes: The win marked the first CIF state championship for Presentation. ... The Panthers finish with a 39-2 record.

What: Division I California Interscholastic Federation final

Who: No. 9 Palo Alto vs. No. 12 Marymount (Los Angeles)

Score: Palo Alto 3, Marymount 2

Game 1 highlights: Melanie Wade was a threat in the front and back rows for Palo Alto, and the Vikings cruised to a routine opening-game win, 25-17.

Game 2 highlights: Marymount put up a good fight, but Palo Alto libero Shelby Knowles came up huge and had key digs forthe Vikings. Marymount's Lauren Greskovics-Fuller struggled a bit to connect with Kaitlyn Edwards on the slide, and the Palo Alto defense and passing proved to be too much. Palo Alto put itself on the brink of a repeat title with a 25-23 win.

Game 3 highlights: Greskovics-Fuller moved the ball around beautifully and got all her hitters involved. Ashlie Williams was unstoppable in the middle and Lanti Moye-McLaren was a threat in the front and back rows, hitting a variety of angles. It could have gone either way, but the Sailors rallied at key points to win the game 25-22 and keep their season alive.

Game 4 highlights: Marymount came out on fire, holding the lead almost the whole game. Greskovics-Fuller spread the ball around, and Renee Meyer-Whalley came in and served tough to close out the game 25-20 and force a fifth game.

Game 5 highlights: Outside hitter Manon Greskovics-Fuller got hot offensively for Marymount, and the Sailors would not let a ball drop. At 13-7, all signs were pointing to a Marymount win. But then the momentum shifted. Maddie Kuppe went back to serve. “When we sided out and I got back to the end line I was like 'Wait ... we can do this," Kuppe said. "It was like a second switch for me.” Palo Alto roared back, and at 12-13 the fans started to chant “I believe my team can win.” Wade answered with two of her 27 kills. After Marymount hit a ball out, Palo Alto found itself with a 17-15 win. “I am just super proud of our team, the way we came back,” Wade said.

They said it: “I am waiting for the ref to say, 'Oops we made a mistake. You guys actually lost. It’s going to take me a couple of days to figure out how the heck we did that. I’m proud that the seniors got this experience, though, because they worked their butts off all year. It would have been a big dud if we had a wipeout in the fifth set after being up 2-0. So I’m really happy that their efforts were rewarded with this." -- coach Dave Winn

Notes: Palo Alto (36-3) became the first team in school history to win back-to-back state titles. ... Wade, a senior, was named MVP.

The final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings are set to be released next week, but it looks as though there's one spot in the top 10 still up for grabs.

On Saturday, Palo Alto and Marymount of Los Angeles will fight for that spot when they meet in the California Division I state final.

In the Week 13 rankings, Palo Alto moved up to No. 9 and Marymount moved up to No. 12. Los Alamitos, which had been the top team in California at No. 6, fell to No. 19 after losing a tough four-setter.

Click here for the complete Week 13 rankings.
No. 2 Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) and No. 5 Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.) secured spots in the top 5 of the POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings last weekend by winning state titles.

Now it's up to California.

As the last state to crown a champion, California will have the final say in the final look of the FAB 50. This week, Marymount (Los Angeles) makes a big move up to No. 15 after winning the CIF Southern Section Division I-A title. Saint Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) checks in at No. 36 after knocking off previous No. 5 Presentation (San Jose) in CIF Central Coast Section Division II championship.

Click here for the complete Week 12 POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings.