This coming weekend marks the start of qualification season for the top 18s teams in the country as they pursue a spot at the 2020 USA Volleyball 18s Junior National Championship. The 2020 Music City Championships is one of three 18s qualifiers happening over MLK Day weekend, and it features many of the top teams in the country.
FloVolleyball will live stream the competition, and when you tune in, keep an eye out for these elite 18s players.
Top Select 18 Elite Blue
According to a profile of her by the Ocala Star Banner, Anne Cate Fitzpatrick had scholarship offers from 17 of the country’s top 20 programs. The 6-1 outside hitter eventually settled on Penn State, and will begin her college career in Happy Valley next fall. Her prep career to date includes a Florida state championship and First Team Under Armour All-America honors, and this fall as a senior, despite her team losing in the state semis, she was named Florida’s Miss Volleyball.
Fitzpatrick also played in the Under Armour All-American match to cap off 2019. Check out the replay of that game right here on FloVolleyball.
Emily Londot has already had a big senior season. She traveled with the youth national team to the U18 World Championships in Egypt and scored 16 kills in the gold-medal match to lead USA to victory. In 2019, Londot, a 6-3 outside hitter and Ohio State commit, and this Mintonette squad finished runner-up in 17 Open at GJNCs and won the division at AAU Nationals. This year, with an even more experienced Londot and a whole cast of talented characters around her, don’t be surprised to see them back in the hunt.
Londot also played in the Under Armour All-American match to cap off 2019.
Union 18 Asics
Ali Hornung is following in her sister Marissa’s footsteps in more ways than one. Like her older sister, Ali is an undersized outside hitter with impressive hops and excellent defensive skills. She’s still only a junior in high school, but after graduation in 2021, Ali will join Marissa at Purdue, and like Marissa, it’s likely Ali will have to focus on defense in college. However, for now, the 5-9 athlete playing up at 18s for Union gets to continue to impress as a six-rotation outside hitter.
North Pacific Juniors VBC 18 AMPD Navy
Like Hornung, Wilmes also has this sport in her blood. Older sister Emilie played at Long Beach State and Oregon State and coached Audra at West Linn High School. Also like Hornung, Wilmes is a high school junior playing up at 18s, but she’s already verbally committed to Washington. Wilmes, at 6-1, bring plenty of size and physicality to the position and touches 10-feet.
Michigan-bound setter Scottee Johnson played a big role in leading Mintonette to a silver medal at GJNCs and gold at AAUs last summer. She even earned MVP honors at AAUs. As the starting setter for Centerville High School in Dayton, Ohio, Johnson is a two-time Greater Western Ohio Conference Player of the Year and a third team Under Armour All-American.
“We were looking for an elite setter in this class who would help us compete at the highest level,” Michigan head coach Mark Rosen said. "We felt Scottee was that setter, not only because her setting skills are exceptional but because her personality brings intangibles that we really want in our program. She's insanely competitive, she's a great teammate who treats the people around her really well, and she flat out wants to win and will do whatever it takes to do it.”
Ava Grace Haggard
Instinct 18 Lions Wild Gold
Six-foot-one Ava Grace Haggard has already made her college choice, and it’s a good one. The McKinney, Texas, native will be heading to Baylor, which spent a significant portion of the 2019 season ranked No. 1, in the fall of 2021. In the meantime, she’ll be a force for Instinct’s 18 squad, attack skillfully in front of and behind the setter.
East Coast Power KOP 18-Royal
Macy Van Den Elzen has been breaking records in Eastern Pennsylvania for a few years now. The 6-4 outside hitter/opposite led the state in 2018 with 542 kills and set a new records at Emmaus High School for kills in a match (35), kills in a season (542), and aces in a season (61). This fall, she was named District XI 4A MVP and a First Team Under Armour All-American. With Van Den Elzen leading a team featuring eight Division I-committed players, ECP 18 Royal could be formidable this season.
AZ Revolution 18 Adidas
Arizona-committed outside hitter Jaelyn Hodge put away 33 kills in the Arizona 6A state championship, which her Basha squad won in five sets over Perry. Just let that sink in for a moment. 33 kills. In a state championship match.
And yet what is even more incredible is that tally was simply par for the course. Hodge averaged 6.4 kills per set throughout the season. She also touches 10-4 and ranked as the No. 20 recruit in the Class of 2020, according to PrepVolleyball.
“Jaelyn is one of the best prospects we’ve signed in a long time,” Arizona head coach Dave Rubio said. “She has all the tools; we haven’t had an outside hitter like her in a really long time. She’s full of potential. She’s smooth and twitchy with elite jumping ability.”
Carolina Union 18 Premier
Maylen Mitrovich is the rare athlete who can play multiple positions at a very high level. As an outside hitter for Rock Hill High School in South Carolina, Mitrovich earned 5A All-State honors, ranking first on the team with 4.7 kills per set. For Carolina Union, however, the 5-11 senior fills the role of setter, the position she will likely play in college at North Carolina. Initially a member of the Class of 2021, Mitrovich will graduate high school in three years and arrive on campus in Chapel Hill this fall.
Momentum 18 Staci
Six-foot-three middle blocker Payton Brgoch has all the qualities and skills an elite middle blocker needs. She’s got height and athleticism, and she can attack in front of and behind the setter and is a formidable blocker. PrepVolleyball included Brgoch on its list of top 150 players in the Class of 2020, and she’s an honorable mention Under Armour All-American. The Ole Miss commit has one more season with Momentum to end her prep career on a high note.