The Nike Tournament of Champions is one of only a handful of girls high school volleyball tournaments that attracts teams from coast to coast. See the best teams in the country -- from Florida, Kentucky, Texas, California, Georgia, and more -- battle for bragging rights starting Friday, September 29, at 10:30 AM MT.
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Ten of the teams competing at the Nike Tournament of Champions are ranked in the latest Flo50 girls high school rankings, with three more earning a top-50 spot at some point this season. Here's the low-down on some of the top teams in attendance.
1. Walton (Flo50 No. 1) | Marietta, GA
The undefeated Walton Raiders are the unanimous No. 1 team in the country right now. Their defeat of Assumption at the Louisville Invitational Volleyball Tournament and Assumption's subsequent championship at the Durango Fall Classic elevated Walton to the top spot.
Outside hitter Gabby Gonzales, middle blocker Reilly MacNeill, and setter Caroline Cheney have led Walton to a 27-0 record so far this year, as well as the title at the Berkeley Prep tournament, to go along with its LIVT victory. Winning the Nike Tournament of Champions would complete the triple crown for this special group.
2. Mater Dei (Flo50 No. 5) | Santa Ana, CA
Mater Dei has been ranked in the top five in the nation in every weekly installment of the Flo50 since preseason. Coach Dan O'Dell's deep roster includes setters Brielle Mullally, Mia Tuaniga, and Erika Calvagna, outsides Natalie Berty and Siena Secrist, middles Meg Brown and Kristina Pepek, and senior libero Kelsey Campeau.
At the Durango Fall Classic, Mater Dei finished third, but were one of only two teams at the tournament that managed to take a set off of the eventual champion Assumption of Louisville.
3. Corona Del Sol (Flo50 No. 6) | Tempe, AZ
Reigning Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year Brooke Nuneviller leads the undefeated Corona Del Sol Aztecs. The upperclassmen-heavy Corona Del Sol squad no doubt remembers going all the way to the championship match at last year's Nike Tournament of Champions before falling to Sacred Heart.
This year, the team will be aiming for redemption, looking to beat Mater Dei and Walton to the Nike TOC finish line.
4. Santa Margarita (Flo50 No. 9) | Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
With an 11-3 record, Santa Margarita clocks in at No. 9 in the latest Flo50 high school rankings. The Eagles' only losses occurred at the season-opening Ann Kang Tournament in Honolulu (to Long Beach Poly, Punahou, and Mater Dei).
Only last week, however, the Eagles faced Mater Dei for the second time this season, and got their redemption by taking down the Monarchs in five sets (23-25, 20-25, 25-11, 25-23, 15-11).
Santa Margarita graduated star outside hitter Meghan McClure (now a freshman starter at Stanford), but UCLA-bound setter Devon Chang is back for her senior year directing the offense, and Sarah Cizek has stepped into the go-to hitter position.
5. Oviedo (Flo50 No. 13) | Oviedo, FL
Oviedo barely escaped being upset by Winter Springs on Monday night, but with the 3-2 victory the Lions remained undefeated. Sophomore outside hitter Rebekah Rath leads the offense for this team with 123 kills, hitting .416, while Savannah Vach sets as one half of the Lions' 6-2 offense, as well as being the No. 2 offensive contributor with 89 kills.
6. Baylor (Flo50 No. 16) | Chattanooga, TN
The most dominant girls high school program in Tennessee has racked up a 30-0 record so far this season. Senior setter and team captain Sarah Sumida has developed great connections with big hitters Ally Craig, Denver Rodgers, and Zoe Ubadmadu. The Nike Tournament of Champions will be the ultimate test for the Red Raiders as they travel out of state for the first time this year.
7. Xavier (Flo50 No. 19) | Phoenix, AZ
After winning its pool at the Durango Fall Classic, Xavier lost to Torrey Pines in the qualification match, which sent the Gators to the silver bracket. There, Xavier dominated, taking down nationally ranked Marin Catholic and Marymount, as well as tough California team Edison on its way to the silver bracket title.
That loss to Torrey Pines is the Gators' only loss so far this season. Senior Georgia commit Lanie Wagner and sophomore Briana McKnight lead Xavier in kills, while super setter and three-year varsity starter Shannon Shields directs the offense.
8. Marymount (Flo50 No. 20) | Los Angeles, CA
Marymount has some serious height. With 6-foot-3 setter and San Diego commit Grace Frohling, 6-1 Dartmouth-bound middle blocker Emma Moffet, and 5-11 UCLA beach recruit Devon Newberry, the Sailors are likely to tower over much of the competition.
Height doesn't win matches on its own, however, so big performances from libero Camryn Carfino and Newberry in the back row and on serve receive will be needed for Marymount to compete for a title at Nike TOC.
9. Boca Raton (Flo50 No. 23) | Boca Raton, FL
The reigning Florida state champions have had a mixed start to the season, going 4-4 with losses to in-state opponents Riverview, Westminster Christian, Venice, and Plant.
A couple starters from that state championship squad graduated, but this year's seniors setter Tatianna Rivas, libero Laura Stevenson, middle Lili Henderson, and Vittoria Sottani are stepping into the leadership roles and will be looking to make a big statement at the TOC.
10. Leon (Flo50 No. 43) | Tallahassee, FL
A loss to the host team at the Berkeley Prep Tournament is the only blemish on Leon's record. South Florida-bound junior middle/outside Makayla Washington does it all for the Lions: she's the top offensive producer and blocker, and second on the team in digs.
Shania Cromartie earned the team's offensive player of the year award after the 2016 season, and now -- still only a sophomore -- she's a captain and only 10 kills behind Washington on the stat sheet, the team's third-best blocker, and No. 1 on the team in digs.
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