Originally posted on DailyBreezeVolleyball.com by Thuc Nhi Nguyen
The final whistle blew and the celebration for a gold medal commenced. But Jon Minsberg wasn’t thinking like a champion.
After he and partner Noah Dyer won the U16 boys division at the 21st AAU Beach National Championships at Hermosa Beach on Sunday, Minsberg thought, “Gosh, I suck.”
If that was indeed the case Minsberg, who admitted to being nervous toward the end of the match, was lucky he had Dyer with him. The pair, one of about 250 teams to play in the two-day event, was playing in its first season together on the beach and beat Jackson Bacil (El Segundo) and Sebastian Roca (Tierra Verde, Fla.) 21-14 for the championship.
The duo met at Saddleback Valley Christian High School and took their talents to the beach. Their chemistry off the sand transfers into the matches and helped them win their first national championship together.
“We’re good friends, so we really mesh well together,” Dyer said.
Added Minsberg: “He puts up good sets, and if I put up a decent enough set he’s going to put it away, no matter what.”
In the U16 girls division, another new duo took home the championship. Chicago’s Brooke Burling and Josie Herbst of Davenport, Iowa won 21-19. They had two missed chances for the championship before Herbst sealed the win on a kill she tapped over her would-be blocker.
It was the first national championship for Burling and Herbst, who said adding a national title to their beach volleyball resumes was their greatest accomplishment on the sand. The pairing may be new, but the chemistry came almost instantly because their games complement each other.
“I love our energy together,” Burling said. “She’s a great hitter and I’m a better shooter. She’s a great blocker and I’m the defender.
“We just click.”
In the U18 girls division Jo Kremer and Julia Mannisto, who were named beach volleyball All-Americans this past season, came up short of the championship and lost to Arizona’s Madeline Mertz and Madalyn Roh 21-19.
Kremer, a Harvard-Westlake graduate, will play collegiately at Notre Dame. Westlake’s Mannisto is bound for South Carolina, where she will play sand volleyball.
Hermosa Beach’s Luke Grafton and Manhattan Beach’s Dane Johnson won the U14 boys division. Marissa Ramsey (Laguna Niguel) and Presley Forbes (Manhattan Beach) won the U15 girls championship.
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