Rocklin, Whitney players help volleyball club team shine in Reno

Squad places 11th among 32 at tourney
By: Matt Long Gold Country News Service
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The Northern California Volleyball Club 16-1 Black team placed 11th out of 32 teams at the Junior National Tournament held in Reno June 30-July 3, proving to themselves and the rest of the competition that they are one of the top teams in the nation. The team featured three incoming juniors from Rocklin in Rocklin High’s Katelyn Ivy and Cailyn Prewitt and Whitney High’s Kaylin Squyres. If there were any doubts as to how good the NCVC Black team was, it didn’t take long for the team to show it. After losing their first match in three games, NCVC Black next played Club Red Arizona, the top-ranked team in the nation, and beat them in two straight games, 28-26, 25-17. “That first loss was a good wake-up call for us and I think that had to do with first-match jitters,” coach Becky Potter said. “We went into that second game with the attitude of having nothing to lose. We just went out there with the feeling of how great an opportunity it is to play the top-ranked team in the nation and just played for fun.” Just months earlier NCVC saw Club Red at another tournament and were in awe of them, but the tables were turned this time. Good defense and blocking helped turn momentum into a win for NCVC. “Our blocking, Haley Simmons (from Oak Ridge) and Paige Folger (from Napa) was incredible,” Potter said. “Club Red has a 6-foot-5 outside hitter and we blocked her off the court. That was the key to the match.” After the match it took the team awhile to realize what they had just accomplished. “I was in a daze,” Potter said. “The best part about it was the buzz that it created in the tournament. We would walk by and you would hear people say, ‘that’s the team that beat Club Red.’” Simmons added, “It was kind of unreal and so exciting. We had an opportunity and were able to experience playing them and that win just boosted out confidence and showed what we can do for the rest of the tournament. Our team just came together and that was the difference in the match.” Vista’s Caroline Sipiora, a libero who plays outside hitter at Vista, was equally excited about the win. “It was awesome and yet hard to describe,” Sipiora said. “We had nothing to lose and just played our hearts out. Afterwards it was just genuine shock, just realizing that we had beaten one of the top-ranked teams in America.” The win over Club Red did just what Simmons said it did, boosted the team’s confidence. NCVC rolled off five straight wins and started the tournament with a 5-1 record. To Potter, it was that point of the tournament as a whole that was better than the win over Club Red alone. “Finishing second in our pool was big,” Potter said. “We came seeded 24th overall and sixth in our pool so when we were sitting there 5-1, I think that was awesome and the highlight of the tournament for us. No one thought we would be there, much less by winning five matches in a row.” The team had two shots to finish among the top-8 teams in the tournament, but lost their next two matches in three games and dropped their last match in two straight games. “We just didn’t play our best in those matches,” Sipiora said. “We could have beaten those teams, but we just didn’t have the extra ‘umph’ to finish.” Rocklin’s Ivy impressed Sipiora. “Katelyn was one of the smaller outside hitters in the tournament, but she got more kills than others because she was crafty,” Potter said. “She played every match; I couldn’t take her off the court. Her ball control got us back in matches and kept us in them.”