MINNEAPOLIS – The goal of reaching this summer’s U.S. Nationals club volleyball championships in Dallas had already been crossed off the Sky High Black 18 team’s priority list.
Adding an Open Division title at this weekend’s Mizuno Northern Lights qualifier, though, would have made the feat just a little sweeter.
After reeling off eight straight match victories since Friday, Sky High Black’s championship bid ended in Sunday’s 18 Open championship game at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Sky High Black 18, which includes three local players – Jacobs’ Alyssa Ehrhardt, Cary-Grove’s Mallory Wilczynski and Prairie Ridge’s Mackenzi Humm – lost to defending national champion Mizuno Northern Lights, 25-15, 25-17, placing second overall, but finishing the weekend as a double-qualifer for nationals.
“Overall, they played really well,” Sky High 18 Black coach Scott Harris said. “It was a little bit of a disappointment in the finals. Our passing broke down, our blocking broke down – they may have been fatigued a little bit.”
Sky High Black – which earned a bid to the national championships earlier this month in Indianapolis – was one of three teams from the Crystal Lake-based club program to finish in the top five in their respective brackets.
Sky High Blue finished fourth in their 17s American Division, but had already earned a bid to the Dallas event.
Sky High White placed fifth in the 18s American Division, rounding out the club’s top finishers.
Sky High had 10 teams competing at this weekend’s event. The club has already qualified 10 teams for the national championships in June and will attempt to add more at in the 12-, 13- and 14-year-old brackets this weekend at a qualifying event.
“We competed well,” Harris said. “There have been a couple of teams that have been plagued by injuries the past four or five weeks, which have kept those teams from finishing as high as they probably should have, but overall, they’ve been competing very well.”