High-SchoolVolleyball: Presentation

By ESPNHS

high schoolJosh Holmberg/ESPNHSKatie George of Assumption (Louisville, Ky.) wore a helmet and pads at the Durango Classic to guard against the blood clots that formed after having her tonsils removed. "I look ridiculous," she said. "But I don't care."
From personal triumphs to dominant dynasties, high school girls’ volleyball had plenty to celebrate in 2011. We look back on some of the year’s top stories before ringing in 2012:

Champions back for seconds
Led by juniors Amber Rolfzen, Kadie Rolfzen and Kelly Hunter, all University of Nebraska commits, Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Neb.) won back-to-back national championships and stretched its winning streak to 82 games, including a five-set, come-from-behind thriller against No. 4 St. James (Lenexa, Kan.) on the road in early October. And it might not be time quite yet to close the book on the Heartland dynasty. “We want a three-peat,” Hunter says of 2012.

Dressed for success
Donning a helmet and pads to help prevent a recurrence of blood clots that formed after she had her tonsils removed, senior Katie George helped Assumption (Louisville, Ky.) win the Durango Fall Classic title in Las Vegas. The Louisville commit went on to lead Assumption to the Asics Challenge championship and, no longer needing her protective gear, the Kentucky state championship. She was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Kentucky, while Assumption (43-1) finished third in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings for 2011.

Honoring a fallen teammate
Playing in honor of teammate Caroline Found, Iowa City West repeated as state champions with a dramatic five-set win over cross-city rival Iowa City. Found, a setter who would have been a senior this year, died after a moped accident on Aug. 11."Everybody who didn’t have a friend knew her," coach Kathy Bresnahan said. "She embraced everyone."

Big season in Texas
With a perfect 50-0 record, Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) becomes the first undefeated state champion in Texas since 2004. The Cavaliers, who dropped only a single set all season, were led by senior outside hitter Amy Neal, who won state MVP honors and was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Texas. Lake Travis finished No. 2 in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings for 2011.

End of an era
Wapahani (Selma, Ind.) stunned superpower Muncie Burris in the opening round of the Indiana sectional playoffs. With the four-set win, the Raiders ended Muncie Burris’ 14-year reign as state champions and halted its playoff winning streak at 95 matches. Wapahani didn’t stop there, going on to clinch the Class 2A title with a sweep of Eastern Greene.

Taking it to the beach
After the NCAA made sand volleyball an emerging sport in 2011-12, high school players looked to capitalize on an additional scholarship source. Arizona followed suit and will launch a sand volleyball pilot program in 2012, making it the first state to offer the sport at the high school level.

Grand finales in California
The California state championships brought the 2011 girls’ volleyball season to a rousing conclusion. In the Division II final, Presentation (San Jose, Calif.) rallied from two sets down to claim the crown. In Division I, Palo Alto was pushed to five sets but became the first Northern California volleyball team to win back-to-back Division I state titles and the first team in school history to notch back-to-back CIF state titles.

Thanks for coming
Mother McAuley (Chicago, Ill.) skipped the pleasantries and upset undefeated Berkeley Prep, at the time the No. 3 team in the nation, on the eve of hosting the prestigious Asics Challenge. Berkeley Prep got some measure of revenge the following day, topping Mother McAuley in straight sets in a rematch in the semifinals before falling to Assumption in the final.

Boys race to the finish
In one of the tightest races ever, Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) was crowned the FAB 50 national champions for boys’ volleyball, edging fellow California powers Mira Costa, Buchanan, Santa Margarita and Mater Dei. The Sea Kings finished their season with a 32-4 record.

Sky High in Florida
Sky High Black of Crystal Lake, Ill., won the 17U title at the 38th AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships, part of the inaugural ESPNHS Girls Showcase at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in June. It was the second consecutive national title for the squad, which was led by seniors Abby Gilleland and Mary Striedl.
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.
By Kirstin Olsen

California playoffsKirstin Olsen/ESPNHSPalo Alto won back-to-back CIF state championships by staging a dramatic fifth-set rally to top Marymount (Los Angeles).

The final two state champions of the 2011 volleyball season were crowned Saturday night in California, and it very well might have been a case of saving the best games for last.

In the CIF Division II state championship, Presentation (San Jose, Calif.) rallied from two sets down and fought off a match point to win its first CIF state championship in volleyball.

Led by 20 kills from Duke commit Emily Sklar, undersized Presentation took down taller La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) 20-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-15, 15-9.

In the first two games, La Costa Canyon, ranked 42nd in the POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings, was in system and had a bevy of hitters to feed, particularly middle Natalie Bausback and outside hitter Cosy Burnett.

But the No. 15 Panthers rallied in the third set with steady play and smart hitting. Veronica Bither and Madison Cooper started to get all their hitters involved and had a great total team effort, never looking out of system.

The Division I final was packed full of drama as well.

No. 9 Palo Alto rallied from a six-point deficit in the fifth game and claimed back-to-back CIF state championships with a 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 20-25, 17-15 win over No. 12 Marymount (Los Angeles).

In the first two games, Palo Alto was in a great rhythm, utilizing 6-foot-5 middle blocker Melanie Wade, a Washington commit, and getting great passing and hitting from senior outside hitter Maddie Kuppe.

But the momentum took a sharp turn starting in the third game.

Marymount took over with amazing defense and good all-around play. Lanti Moye-McLaren was a key weapon in the front and back row, hitting a variety of angles, and Marymount setter Lauren Fuller did a great job moving the ball around to her hitters.

In the last game, Marymount was up 13-7, but Palo Alto steadied its play and fought its way back in to win the match 17-15.

Wade finished with 26 kills, and the Vikings became the first Palo Alto team to win two straight titles.
By Kirstin Olsen

California playoffsCourtesy of St. Francis AthleticsSt. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) takes on Presentation (San Jose) for the Division II NorCal title.
No. 12 Palo Alto (Calif.) won its 19th straight match with a three-set win over San Ramon Valley in the second round of the Division I NorCal CIF state tournament. The Vikings got 19 kills from Washington commit Melanie Wade. Outside hitter and UConn commit Maddie Kuppe had 15 kills, and setter and University of Pacific commit Kimmy Whitson had 32 assists in the 25-20, 25-23, 25-13 win. Next up for Palo Alto is Menlo-Atherton, which knocked off St. Francis (Sacramento) in straight sets.

In the SoCal bracket, No. 6 Los Alamitos (Los Alamitos) defeated No. 26 Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) 25-16, 25-20, 21-25, 27-25 in the second round. The Griffins struggled in the third set and lost middle blocker Crissy Jones to an injury. But Los Al picked up its defense and rallied to win a tight fourth set.

No. 15 Marymount (Los Angeles, Calif.) won in five over a very feisty No. 28 Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.) 25-22, 21-25, 13-25, 26-24, 15-8. Junior Middle blocker Kaitlyn Edwards paced the Sailors with 21 kills and 10 blocks, and senior outside hitter Manon Greskovics-Fuller contributed with 12 kills and 25 digs. Newport outside hitter and USC commit Cinnamon Sary led the Sailors with 29 kills and 9 digs. Marymount’s Lanti Moye-McLaren and Greskovics-Fuller stepped up their game with some key kills at the end of the match to give the Sailors the edge. Marymount next faces Los Alamitos on Tuesday.

In the Division II CIF tournament, No. 36 St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) took care of No. 47 El Camino (Sacramento, Calif.) 25-20, 26-24, 22-25, 25-18, and No. 19 Presentation (San Jose, Calif.) beat Rocklin 25-13, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23. The much-anticipated rematch of St. Francis and Presentation will take place on Tuesday for the DII NorCal championship. Presentation beat St. Francis three times in the regular season, but when it counted most in the CIF Central Coast Playoffs, St. Francis beat Presentation in five. Presentation boasts outside hitter and Duke commit Emily Sklar, and St. Francis has setter and UCSB commit Taylor Formico and middle blocker and Wake Forest commit Taylor Deaton.
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.
Los AlamitosKirstin Olsen/ESPNHSLos Alamitos celebrates its CIF Southern Section D-IAA championship.
By Kirstin Olsen

No. 20 Marymount (Los Angeles, Calif.) won its second consecutive CIF Southern Section Division I-A championship this weekend in an exciting match over a very young and talented No. 24 Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) 27-25, 22-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-12.

Manon Greskovics-Fuller led Marymount with 23 kills, and freshman Hayley Hodson led the Sea Kings with 20 kills. CdM struggled with its passing in Game 4, which ultimately cost them the match. Marymount’s Fuller and freshman Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani stepped up their games, and libero Tori Shpherd provided some tough serving.

No. 7 Los Alamitos won the CIF SS D-IIA final this weekend over No. 25 Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.) 25-17, 26-24, 25-23 for its first CIF SS title since 2005.

The Los Al fans were in full force in a sea of red cheering on the Griffins, who dominated the first game. Both teams played amazing defense, but the Griffins overpowered with an array of offensive weapons. Outside hitters Jojo Schnabl (14 kills) and Alijah Gunsaulus (12 kills) led the way, and opposite Jaylen Villanueva (8 kills) and middle Crissy Jones (10 kills) also starred. Cinnamon Sary of Newport Harbor led her team with 13 kills.

Misty May-Treanor was in attendance, rooting for her alma mater, Newport Harbor, and Kerri Walsh was doing commentary for a regional TV broadcast.

No. 48 La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) won its eighth consecutive championship this past weekend in the CIF San Diego Section D-II final over Bonita Vista (Chula Vista, Calif.) 25-14, 22-25, 25-20, 25-16.

The Mavericks, who won seven consecutive Division I finals, are a newcomer to D-II because of enrollment adjustments. The Mavericks struggled passing, but with six players 6-feet plus they were still able to put balls away. Junior Jordan Robbins led with 11 kills, sophomore Brittany Abercrombie had 10 kills and junior Sydney Francis had 23 digs.

No. 50 Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.) swept Rancho Buena Vista (Vista, Calif.) 25-21, 25-14, 25-10 in the CIF San Diego Section D-I final. Senior setter/hitter Gigi Cresto did a great job in both roles and had 15 assists. Libero Karly Drolson had 15 digs.

For the second year in a row, St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) took down Presentation (San Jose, Calif.) in the CIF Central Section D-II finals. No. 5 Presentation had beaten unranked St. Francis four times previously this season, but fell 14-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 15-12 when it mattered most.

St. Francis got 42 assists from Taylor Formico. Presentation was led by outside hitter and Duke commit Emily Sklar, who had 19 kills. The rivals are likely to meet again in the Northern California regional championship game.

No. 14 Palo Alto took down unranked Menlo-Atherton 25-19, 25-19, 25-14 in the CIF Central Coast Section D-I final. Senior middle blocker Melanie Wade had 21 kills, setter Kimmy Whitson had 32 assists and outside hitter Maddie Kuppe had 16 digs.

The CIF D-I state final could be a great match if seeds hold for Los Al and Palo Alto.
By Kirstin Olsen
Kelly Marcinek
David Villegas/ESPNHSMarist outside hitter Kelly Marcinek battles the Joliet Catholic block at the Asics Challenge.

With a 29-6 record, No. 25 Marist (Chicago) has had a strong season against some top competition in the Midwest.

The Redhawks spread their wings to Arizona this past weekend to compete in the Nike Tournament of Champions. They beat St. Jospeh’s Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) but lost to unranked Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) in the final 17-25, 25-17, 15-11.

The Redhawks boast 6-foot-4 senior middle blocker Lauren Zielinski, who is committed to South Carolina. Unfortunately she has been sidelined for the season after surgery on a torn labrum.

To secure their second consecutive East Suburban Catholic Conference title, the Redhawks must defeat No. 29 Joliet Catholic. Marist stands 2-0 against JCA so far this season.

No. 7 Presentation (San Jose, Calif.) has made a steady climb all season long and has some big-time wins over No. 19 St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) and at the Panther Challenge. The Panthers are led by 6-2 senior outside hitter and Duke commit Emily Sklar. The Panthers have one more regular-season match against Valley Christian (San Jose, Calif.) to close out the West Catholic League title.

No. 13 Chaparral (Parker, Colo.) has been dominating the Rockies with an impressive 18-0 record. The Wolverines are led by talented senior outside hitter/setter and Texas commit Nicole Dalton, who was also was selected to the U.S. Girls Youth National Team. Dalton hopes to lead her team again to the 5A state title. She is joined by standouts senior libero Emily Podschweit and 6-3 transfer middle blocker Elizabeth Campbell.

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