The 18u division display’s the country’s best volleyball talent and is sure to never disappoint year after year.
This year was nothing different.
18u Open championship morning began with one of the biggest rivalries in all of club volleyball- Mizuno Sports Performance versus Asics Munciana Samurai. These two clubs have faced each other in either the semifinals or finals the past five years at the AAU Girls Junior National Volleyball Championships, four of the five being in the championship match. This year, they found themselves squaring off in the semifinals.
Mizuno Sports Performance came into the semis as the two-time 18u Open National Champions, looking to secure an unprecedented third consecutive title; Samurai were looking for revenge, having dropped the last two meetings against them. In normal rivalry fashion the match was pushed to a third set, which ultimately saw Sports Performance take it 15-11 and secure a sixth consecutive 18u Open final appearance.
The 18u Open Championship was set- Minnesota Select versus Mizuno Sports Performance.
Sports Performance opened up with a 6-0 run before a miss return put Minnesota on the board. Later, Minnesota countered with a 5-0 run to pull within one (13-12) and eventually take their first lead at 18-17, but a late 3-0 run by Sports Performance would secure a 25-20 first set victory and put them one set closer to another national title.
Sports Performance carried that momentum into the second set, appearing too much to handle with their overall attack, including Illinois Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year Molly Haggerty on the outside and Rachel Fara in the middle. Sports Performance would go on to take it in straight sets (25-20, 25-16) to clinch their third consecutive AAU 18u Open National Championship title.
Later in the day, Sports Performance faced off against China Shandong, the International Division champions, for the 2015 World Championship title. China got off to an early 2-0 start and would never look back, cruising to a 25-17, 25-20 victory. Execution was the name of the game and China executed their game plan efficiently, creating a wall at the net that could not be penetrated and exploiting holes within the Sports Performance lineup to lay down timely kills. Service errors hurt Sports Performance early on, but China’s precision and technical ability could not be matched.
The talent continued to amaze on the 18u Premier championship court.
Sports Performance entered the championship match as the reigning 18u Premier champs after defeating Premier Onitsuka in three sets. They looked to defend their title as they took the court versus River City.
Unlike last year’s three-set nailbiter, Mizuno Sports Performance defeated River City in straight sets (25-19, 25-27) to take home their second consecutive 18u Premier National Championship title.
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