Four Previously Unbeaten Teams Suffer First Losses
All of the previous nice and smooth ranking scenarios were pretty much ripped apart after last weekend’s developments at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix and the Southern Volleyball Invitational in Atlanta. The ASICS Challenge in Chicago also proved to be a scrambler for this week’s rankings.
In Arizona, Flo50 No. 1 Walton of Marietta, Georgia, was hoping to put a stranglehold on its hopes for a mythical national title by adding the Nike TOC crown to a pair of tourney titles the Raiders won earlier in the season.
It was not to be, however, as Mater Dei of Santa Ana, California, completed a huge weekend by knocking off previously unbeaten Walton 21-25, 25-15, 15-8 in the final. And Walton wasn’t the only previously unbeaten team to lose at the Nike TOC. If either Corona del Sol of Tempe, Arizona, which was No. 3 in last week’s rankings, or Oviedo of Florida, which was No. 8, had been able to win it all, then that team would have risen to the top of this week’s rankings.
The team that did get placed at the top was the one-loss Reagan squad of San Antonio, Texas. The Rattlers were No. 1 for one week earlier in the season but slipped to second after Walton won a tournament in Florida and a team Walton had previously beaten, Assumption of Louisville, won the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas. Another one-loss Texas 6A team to watch is The Woodlands.
Even with the major tournament title, Mater Dei arguably can’t even be No. 1 in California since the Monarchs aren’t currently in first place in their league due to a recent head-to-head loss to Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita, California. But since the Eagles also were in the TOC and lost twice during the weekend and since Mater Dei got a win over them earlier in the season, we will go ahead and move up the Monarchs to No. 3 in this week’s Flo50. Those two teams conceivably could play three more times this season and the likelihood is that they may go back-and-forth beating each other.
In addition to beating Walton in the final, the Monarchs topped Oviedo in the quarterfinals (handing that team its first loss of the season) and in the semis took out Xavier Prep of Arizona. Xavier was the team that gave Corona del Sol its first loss in another quarterfinal. Mater Dei senior Kelsey Campeau, a libero who had 76 digs during the weekend with 16 in the final, was named Nike TOC MVP.
With no team emerging from Phoenix still unbeaten, the possibility of one doing that after the Southern Volleyball Invitational in Atlanta could have happened as well. But previous No. 4 Dorman of Roebuck, South Carolina, lost in the final of that event to fellow South Carolina school Wando (Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina). With the 25-18, 17-25, 15-13 win, Wando avenged an earlier loss to Dorman. Other top teams from Alabama and Georgia also were in that tourney (except for Walton, which headed out to the Nike TOC).
There was no unbeaten record on the line, but a team coming through at the ASICS Challenge in Chicago that now has a chance to end up No. 1 in the nation was Marist of Chicago. After upsetting previous national No. 5 Assumption in the semifinals, Marist outlasted Joliet Catholic Academy 18-25, 25-13, 26-24 in the final. Joliet Catholic had upset 2016 Flo50 national champ Mother McAuley of Chicago in the other semifinal.
Marist’s win was highlighted by the serving of junior Katie Canavan. With her team down 24-21 in the final game, she served five straight points at match point and even got an ace for the final point. The team also was lead by Maggie Meyer with 19 kills.
With just one loss on its resume and the possibility of winning the top divisional state title in Illinois, Marist moved up to No. 2 in this week’s rankings behind new No. 1 Reagan.
That’s a lot to absorb, but most top teams are now done traveling to invitational tournaments and will now be getting focused in on trying to win state championships.
By Mark Tennis