Julia Thompson and Emily Casaletto of Sky High Volleyball Club and Barrington High School earned a bid to the USA Beach Junior Tour National Championship July 28-29.
With the AAU Junior Nationals in Orlando, Fla. winding down this week, many, but not all, of the local players will enjoy a few weeks off before returning to their high school teams for summer camp and fall practice or beginning their college careers.
AAUs were a mixed bag for area clubs, with No. 2-seeded Sports Performance 18 Elite bowing out in the semifinals of the 18 Open division to longtime rival Asics Munciana while Fusion 17 Black reached the finals of the 16 Open division
Munciana and Sports Performance have dominated the 18 Open since 2008, with the Hoosiers beating SPVB to win the title in 2009 and 2011 while Sports Performance won in 2007, 2008 and 2010, beating Munciana for the title the last two times.
But Sports Performance, which beat Fusion 18 Black 25-16, 25-12 in the quarterfinals, had no answer for Munciana this time around, losing 25-19, 25-17 after spending most of the match out of system and unable to take advantage of its size advantage at the net.
Sports Performance coach Rick Butler lamented his team's poor passing, an issue in most of its losses this season, and its inability to serve effectively.
Setter Lauren Carlini, who was named MVP of the Junior National Classic and the Wisconsin Dells Showcase earlier this season, and middle blocker Meghan Haggerty were all-tournament selections for Sports Performance.
Fusion's Julia Conard, who is Illinois-bound, also made the all-tourney list.
But the news wasn't all bad for Sports Performance in Florida. In the 18 Club division, Sports Performance 18 Red won the championship by defeating Mizuno Northern Lights 18-2 25-17, 17-25, 17-15.
SPVB 18 Red members included Casey Durham, Catherine Huebener, Katherine Keegan, McKenna Kelsay, Alison Kimmel, Stephanie Kinane, Leighanne Novak, Ashleigh Shain, Carly Warner and Amelia Wegman.
Elsewhere, Sky High 17 Black reached the quarterfinals of the 17 Open division before losing to Asics Kiva 17 Red 27-25, 25-17. However, Sky High fared better in the 17 Club division, where Sky High 17 Red defeated Sky High 17 White 27-29, 25-23, 15-12 to bring home the gold.
Member of the championship Sky High 17 Red team included Emily Aigner, Caitlyn Brocker, Ashley Dolin, Abigail Fesl, Amy Jereb, Kayla Katarzynski, Alex Larson, Merrideth Patterson and Julia Thompson.
Playing for the runner-up White team were Jessica Bartczszyn, Tara Blake, Micah Duzey, Sarah Horner, Nicole Morrisey, Anna Mullen-Muhr, Kylie Portera, Maris Smith, Janelle Stilling and Samantha Young.
In the 16 Open division, Fusion 16 Black defeated Milwaukee Sting 16 Gold 25-21. 22-25, 15-11 to win the championship.
Fusion 16 Black members included Alexandra Frantti, Olivia Hanley, Olivia Kofie, Adeja Lambert, Lauren Leverenz, Mackenzie Long, Katie Olson, Brianna Stewart and Bryanna Weiskircher.
In the 16 Club division, 1at Alliance 16 Black lost 25-17, 25-21 to Milwaukee Sting 16 Black in the semifinals.
The USA Beach Junior Tour stopped in Milwaukee, Wis., earlier this month for the Central Open. Fifty-two teams from three USA Volleyball regions competed in the one-day event hosted at Bradford Beach.
In the Girls 18U division, Sky High's Julia Thompson and Emily Casaletto lost to Claire Raddatz and Melissa Morello of Mequon, Wis. in the finals.
Nevertheless, the Barrington High School teammates earned a bid to the USA Beach Junior Tour National Championship at Bradford Beach July 28-29.
Prepvolleyall.com recently announced its list of "Gym Dandies," the best pure defenders in the land.
Players were nominated by their coaches and had to be full-time backrow players. They had to be generally considered among the best 10 defensive players in their state regardless of class year or school classification.
The list featured nine teams of 13 players with a little more than 100 more named honorable mention.
Local players in the list included Huntley's Amy Dion, a first-team selection, Mother McAuley's Bridget Powell, a third-team choice, and Lyons backrow whiz Megan Miller, who was named to the fourth team.
Evansville recruit Kim Deprez of Glenbard South was named to the seventh team, Benet's Sheila Doyle was tapped for the seventh team and Marist's Carolyn "Baby" Yerkes was a ninth team selection.
Honorable mention choices included Peyton Bykowski of Stevenson, Annie Ferlmann of Benet, St. Ignatius' Mary Grassano, Buffalo Grove's Victoria Ito, Emily Milligan of Nazareth, Shannon O'Brien of Benet Academy, and Toni Saracco of Lyons.