KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As 12’s, 13s and 14’s, the current group from the Absolute Black (CA) 15 Black squad has had success, understood pressure, and made big plays.
However, it’s fresh ground they are walking these days, thanks to a hard-fought and stress-filled three set win over Drive Nation 15 Red to wrap up their Saturday at the TC NIT and earn a berth in the quarterfinals of the Elite bracket.
Absolute Black came up a step short at Open Nationals last year, but confidence is surely building after a win like this, 30-28, 21-25, 16-14, which tested every aspect of the roster. During the final push in Set 3, Absolute got a couple of critical digs and good work defensively at the net to blunt the charging approach of Drive Nation.
“We have the luxury of three really good defenders who are interchangeable anywhere in the back row. Whatever the matchup we need, we can move those pieces,” said Absolute head coach Thomas Amberg. “Drive Nation is a really good team, and the matchup in the middle was really fun to watch. At the end, Bella (Ehrlich) was able to get a funnel block to one of our defenders, they transitioned it, and we got the big point.”
Absolute tried to maintain the big boost it got from winning the demanding first set, but a letdown felt almost inevitable, especially with the pace and power Drive Nation brought to the table.
“We talked about being consistent, but hey, we’re playing 15s volleyball here. The drive to sustain it is tough to maintain, and we made three our four mistakes in the middle of the set that we couldn’t come back from,” Aberg said.
“This has been a successful team historically, but for us to break through and get into the last day, the top 8, is a big deal. To win today and be in a position to play for a championship (Monday) I couldn’t be more proud.”
Other 15 Elite quarterfinalists include Dynasty, which beat Arizona Storm in three sets Sunday night and will face Absolute on Monday at 7:30 a.m. The other three matchups are OTVA Randy (FL) and Surfside Legends (CA); Legacy (MI) and MadFrog (TX); and Houston Skyline and 1st Alliance (IL).