Even Injury-Ravaged, Mater Dei Ranks Among The Country's Best

Mater Dei Mater Dei girls volleyball Durango

The nationally No.5-ranked Mater Dei girls' volleyball team didn't win the Durango Fall Classic, but the Monarchs were one of only two teams that managed to take a set from the champion Rockets of Louisville's Assumption High School, and that alone says a lot about the 2017 Monarchs.

Mater Dei and Assumption faced off in the semifinals of the prestigious high school volleyball tournament hosted in Las Vegas, with Assumption moving on to the championship match with a 26-24, 23-25, 25-19 victory.

"It was a very close match that could have gone either way," Mater Dei head coach Dan O'Dell said. "But it was kind of fun just seeing a team like that. Assumption would be one of the best teams in California if they were in California, and they just happen to be in Kentucky. Getting that exposure to play a team like that is only going to be beneficial to our girls down the road."

[instagram url="https://www.instagram.com/p/BZMCiYwgJEK/?taken-by=materdeigvb" hide_caption="0"]
Perhaps that exposure is already paying off. Just three days after returning home from Vegas, O'Dell and his team faced Redondo Union, which was fresh off of a runner-up finish at Durango. Even missing one of its starting setters Brielle Mullally, who suffered an ankle injury in Vegas, and six-rotation outside hitter Siena Secrist, a USC commit who was out with strep throat, Mater Dei eked out a five-set victory over Redondo, which entered the match ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division I.

The depth of the Mater Dei squad was on full display versus Redondo Union, with Erika Calvagna filling in for Mullally and sophomore Reagan Merk subbing in for the ill Secrist. The team also features sophomore setter and hitter Mia Tuaniga, who O'Dell says "does absolutely everything," junior outside hitter and kills leader Natalie Berty, UCLA-bound libero Kelsey Campeau, and sophomore middle Meg Brown, an Alabama commit who O'Dell says has made a faster improvement between her freshman and sophomore seasons than any other player he's coached.

"We're deep, we're really well-rounded and balanced when we're all healthy and good to go," O'Dell said. "It's just that right now we're not healthy."

The Monarchs improved to 16-3 with the win. Losses to Oak Ridge of Texas and Iolani of Hawaii at the Ann Kang Invitational in Honolulu were the only blemishes on Mater Dei's record prior to meeting Assumption in the Durango semifinals.

O'Dell described his team's play at the season-opening Ann Kang tournament as sloppy, but admitted that the tournament was a good experience overall, helping to build good chemistry.

[tweet url="https://twitter.com/MaterDeiVB/status/903790046678884352" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]
Against Oak Ridge, it was the War Eagles' setter Carly Graham who caused the Monarchs the most trouble.

"I don't think [Graham's] projected to be one of the best setters in college, but as a high school setter I don't know if there's a setter who can take over and dominate a game from that position the way the Oak Ridge setter does. She finds openings in the court, she'll set it over on two to corners and short, and she'll fake set and fire quick to the middle. She's such a smart setter that she just kind of picked our team apart, and it was something that our girls have never seen a kid do that before."

Iolani, on the other hand, relied on their duo of elite outside hitters -- reigning Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year Elena Oglivie and Missouri-bound senior Saige Ka'aha'aina-Torres -- to exploit Mater Dei's biggest weakness: its right side block.

Later this week, Mater Dei kicks off league play with a match versus Flo50 No. 12 Santa Margarita and Mira Costa, a team on the national rankings bubble. Then it's back into tournament mode for the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, September 29-30.

Nike TOC watch live banner

O'Dell's main goal before Phoenix is to get healthy. Having Secrist back on the court will be paramount to the Monarch's long-term success.

"Siena Secrist is one of our glue kids on the outside," O'Dell said. "She's a six-rotation outside who is a very good passer. She can score in system, she's really smart out of system, she's low error. She's good defensively, she's a good blocker. She's just a kid who does everything."

Perhaps most important are Secrist's contributions on serve receive. O'Dell -- who played at Penn State and professionally before gaining coaching experience at the club, college, and high school level -- highlighted passing as the most important skill at any level of volleyball.

[instagram url="https://www.instagram.com/p/BZNEjxxARl6/?taken-by=materdeigvb" hide_caption="0"]
"Every time we play a team, no matter how big they are, how little they are, whatever, all I say to my assistant coaches before the match is, 'I hope they're not good at passing.' Because if the team is not good at passing, we're going to win the game," O'Dell said. "If a team is good at passing, whether they have big guns or not, it's going to be an interesting game, no matter what, just because the ball is going to be alive way more."

Passing isn't the sexiest skill, but it's the one that has allowed Mater Dei to find success so far this season. Libero Campeau, outsides Berty and Secrist, and defensive specialist Mandalay Rennon, who O'Dell says is one of the best junior liberos in the California and the country, team up to pass dimes to Tuaniga, Mullally, and Calvagna, who in turn dish the rock to Berty, Brown, Secrist, and Tuaniga (like O'Dell said, she does everything).

All together it's a pretty fearsome combination, and one which could lead Mater Dei to a title at the Nike TOC and down the road in the California state championship.

Raegan Steiner Is The Perfect Ambassador For Montana Volleyball

Courtesy Chantelle Steiner Raegan Steiner

Yes, they play volleyball in Montana.

No, they don’t ride horses to volleyball practice.

In fact, Raegan Steiner would like you to know that high school volleyball is very much alive and kicking in a state better known for rodeo, skiing and — until recently — basketball. Steiner should know: the 6-foot-0 opposite from Billings Senior High is the first Montanan ever selected to the AVCA Under Armor High School All-American team.

Meet The 2017 Under Armour All-Americans: Raegan Steiner

Courtesy Chantelle Steiner Raegan Steiner

Becoming the first Under Armour High School All-American from the state of Montana is the perfect way to conclude Raegan Steiner’s prep volleyball career. 

Meet The 2017 Under Armour All-Americans: Emma Schriner

Jamestown Volleyball | Twitter Emma Schriner

Tennessee-bound outside hitter Emma Schriner is as physical as they come. Standing 6-foot-3 and touching over 10 feet, Schriner was one of only two starters returning for her Jamestown High School team this fall. 

Last Four Teams Standing Book Their Tickets To Kansas City

USA Today Sports USATSI_10470305_168383134_lowres.jpg

On Saturday night, the eight remaining teams in the 2017 NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament faced off to determine which four would advance to the Final Four in Kansas City next week. 

Meet The 2017 Under Armour All-Americans: Adanna Rollins

Hebron High School DO9edCFVoAAbsXk.jpg-large.jpeg

Adanna Rollins led Hebron High School to the 6A Texas state championship last year as a junior and was named the MVP of the tournament. This fall, Hebron, missing graduated setter and reigning Texas Gatorade Player of the Year Kylee McLaughlin, wasn’t expected to repeat, but with some inspired play from Rollins, they did just that.

Regional Hosts Survive Sweet 16 Tests

Matt Pendleton/UAA Communications Rhamat Alhassan

The regional semifinal rounds of the 2017 NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament wrapped up last night, leaving only eight teams remaining in the hunt for the championship. 

Meet The 2017 Under Armour All-Americans: Ella May Powell

Courtesy AVCA Ella May Powell.jpg

The list of colleges Ella May Powell considered before making her commitment to Washington features some of the most decorated women’s volleyball programs in NCAA history: Stanford, UCLA, Florida, and Nebraska.

This Week's College Commits: 12/8/17

Hebron High School DO-XpTIV4AAvjb5.jpg-large.jpeg

A Texas high school state champion from the class of 2020 made her verbal commitment to Florida this week, Florida State added a 2021 libero from Walton High School in Georgia, and the beach programs of Missouri State and TCU celebrated the addition of talent to their 2019 teams.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloVolleyball!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Meet The 2017 Under Armour All-Americans: Jonni Parker

Courtesy AVCA Jonni Parker.JPG

Miami East senior Jonni Parker led the 2017 Viking squad with 449 kills and 315 assists, but perhaps the most impressive line item on her stats sheet is the 153 aces; that mark ranks her fifth in state history for aces in a single season, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association website.

Meet The 2017 Under Armour All-Americans: Ade’ Owokoniran

Courtesy Triangle Volleyball Club IMG_0251.JPG

To get an idea of what Ade’ Owokoniran’s contributions at the collegiate level might be like when she makes her debut at Duke next fall, think of Danielle Cuttino of Purdue. Like Cuttino, Owokoniran is a middle blocker with the skill and athleticism to play on the outside, while putting on a display of explosive power when in the middle.