by Kyle Koso
With all the options in their tool kit, the NORCO 17-2 volleyball squad is fixing to have a memorable run this club season.
Showing careful touch when needed and imposing strength when available, the NORCO team won all seven of its matches this weekend at the Avalanche Havoc, the debut event of the Colorado Tournament Series, powered by Triple Crown Sports and hosted at NORCO’s facility in northeast Loveland. The championship match with Shockwave 17-1 saw NORCO close with a 25-22, 25-14 victory.
In the 14 sets played, NORCO allowed opponents to reach the 20’s on just two occasions, pretty sturdy work at the front end of the club campaign.
“There is so much talent on this team; NORCO fields great teams at every level, but we feel we are a 1’s team anywhere else,” said head coach Erin Pavlin. “So the question is, will everyone buy into the system and each other in this process? That’s how far we’ll go, but there’s talent, especially on the pins - I have pins who can terminate everywhere.”
Set 1 against Shockwave was a tight affair and tied 20-20 when setter Emma Grace hit not one but two perfect short serves for aces, just slipping the ball over the net. Things were polished off by a noisy kill from Nicole Grove, with libero Taylor Tyser always in the right spot to make things work defensively.
“I wish I could take all the (serving) credit, but I’m getting awesome zones from my coaches, and all the information they provide has been huge for me and my teammates,” said Grace, 16, who attends Fossil Ridge High School. “We didn’t know what to expect, it being our first time together, so it was a weekend to try things out, and it worked out real well.”
“Emma is probably our most consistent server; if I give her a spot I’m confident she will hit it,” Pavlin added. “That type of point is so hard on the team it gets score on, and it’s amazing for the team that scores. To get that little separation there at the end got us in relaxed and then swinging hard in system.”
Grace had a superior dig on a tough ball in Set 2 that allowed NORCO to take 16-11 lead, and many other players were contributing big shots along the way. Dylanne Hardy had two kills that pushed the lead to 18-12, and both Ella Grimes and Skye Vancil were especially productive as NORCO made sure there would be no rally.
“We have expectations, and this is a good team with a lot of talent. I’m happy for the wins,” said Grove, who also attends Fossil Ridge. “I love playing with Emma; she’s a great setter and will push the ball outside when you don’t expect it, and can get you some one-on-ones. I can trust her every time.”
The Pikes Peak bracket was won by Premier 17; Spikes 14Z won the Longs Peak bracket and Spikes 15 Camilla prevailed in the Horsetooth bracket.
The next event in the Colorado Tournament Series will be the Mile High Madness, set for Jan. 15-16.
by Kyle Koso
When it comes to impressive debuts, the storylines just kept unfolding Saturday at the Avalanche Havoc volleyball event.
The tournament marked the arrival of the Colorado Tournament Series, offered by Triple Crown Sports, which welcomed 40 teams in a mix of age groups and bracketed to create the most useful level of competition for each squad. Matches are being contested at the nearly brand-new 10-court NORCO complex in northeast Loveland, which only just opened in March of 2021.
And certainly, there was plenty of fresh potential within the ClubOne 16-1 team, which entered the day having had just a handful of practices together. But in their first look in uniform, the 16’s looked seasoned and prepared, winning four matches and setting themselves up for a title run when Sunday’s double-elim championships are decided.
ClubOne (based in Platteville, CO) wrapped up Saturday with a 25-18, 25-20 victory over Core Values 17-1, doing a nice job of unsettling the taller Core Value team with excellent serving throughout. Even better for ClubOne, they faced a severe deficit in Set 2, trailing 12-3, before storming back and scoring the last seven points of the set to secure the win.
“I knew we’d pull it together, but we’ve only had four practices, so I told the girls let’s go out and have fun. And that’s what we did,” said 16’s head coach Madison Fisher. “When we got behind, I told them to take a deep breath, let it go because the mistakes are behind us. Let’s just stop their run and have ours instead.”
“Those were mostly our unforced errors; we tried to pick up the communication and believe in each other,” said Maddie Loeffler, 16, who attends Platte Valley High School and had four aces in the final stretch of the Set 2 win. “My serving has been developed by Ryleigh Haynes (head coach at Platte Valley), learning about mental toughness and being able to stay in it.”
ClubOne continued to show a measured mindset by not getting rattled at the length and size of Core Value. A couple of noisy kills by Charlee Russick (standing a modest 5-foot-6) pretty much announced that ClubOne wasn’t going to be bothered by what the tape measure read.
“It can be intimidating, but I work on my vertical and try to look through the block. I do what I can to work around it,” said Russick, 16, who attends Berthoud High School. “I think serving is probably the most important thing we do; if you don’t serve well, how are you going to score the points you need?”
“When I saw their size, I was a little worried, but our team is fast enough,” Fisher added. “We’re also pumped about our serving; we maybe missed five serves, so that means no running (penalty laps) for them.”
The ClubOne 16’s are seeded sixth and will play the Core Value 18-1 team early Sunday in the 12-team Mixed Division Gold bracket. The top four seeds earning first-round byes are Shockwave 17-1, NORCO 17-2, Believe 16’s and Eclipse 18’s. In the Pikes Peak bracket, the top seed is Attitude 16-2 Marc.
The Avalanche Havoc tourney will be followed up in the Colorado Tournament Series by the Jan. 15-16 Mile High Madness, the Feb. 19-21 President’s Day Summit and the April 9-10 Bighorn Bash. Many of these teams are expected to compete as well in Triple Crown’s Rumble in the Rockies, May 6-8, at the sprawling Gaylord Hotel grounds in Aurora.
“The whole goal of the Colorado Tournament Series is to give teams and clubs, who don’t necessarily get heard, an opportunity to have their needs and wants filled,” said TCS event director Sarah Dannettell. “We wanted to give teams a lot of matches; everyone got four matches today, which is unheard of in other tournaments, and they’ll get two more tomorrow.
“It’s great, this early in the season, for teams to try different lineups and get together to understand what kind team they’ll be. We also wanted to provide all caliber of teams a chance to play in a very elite setting. We didn’t cut any corners or do anything we wouldn’t expect to give our high-end clients. That’s one reason why we are having so much success.”
After stepping aside last year because of COVID-19 concerns, the National Invitational Volleyball Championship is back, with tournament officials announcing Sunday the 31 teams that will make up the field, along with first-round locations, matchups and game times.
This is the fourth edition of the NIVC since its reboot through Triple Crown Sports; the event previously ran from 1989-95. Previous champions of the current NIVC are Georgia Tech (2019), Iowa State (2018) and Ole Miss (2017).
The 2021 NIVC features Round 1 and 2 action from Dec. 2-5, with Round 3 scheduled for Dec. 6-8. The semifinals will be held Dec. 8-11, and the championship match be played Dec. 12-14.
2021 NIVC Bracket
Here is the 2021 NIVC field of teams:
Arkansas (19-10) – Southeastern Conference
Colorado State (18-10) – Mountain West Conference*
Delaware State (26-4) – Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference*
Houston Baptist (21-8) – Southland Conference
Jackson State (17-13) – Southwestern Athletic Conference*
Pacific (13-16) – West Coast Conference
Sam Houston State (18-9) – Western Athletic Conference*
UConn (21-10) – Big East Conference
UTEP (21-7) – Conference USA
Weber State (20-9) – Big Sky Conference*
*Denotes conference regular season champion
Arizona (16-15) – Pac-12 Conference
Bradley (16-14) – Missouri Valley Conference
Boston College (16-16) – Atlantic Coast Conference
Butler (16-15) – Big East Conference
Chicago State (17-10) – Western Athletic Conference
CSU Bakersfield (18-10) – Big West Conference
Evansville (19-11) – Missouri Valley Conference
Indiana State (18-12) – Missouri Valley Conference
Middle Tennessee (9-11) – Conference USA
New Mexico State (19-9) – Western Athletic Conference
North Carolina A&T (20-10) – Big South Conference
North Florida (24-7) – Atlantic Sun Conference
Portland State (19-10) – Big Sky Conference
Stephen F. Austin (18-9) – Western Athletic Conference
Troy (17-12) – Sun Belt Conference
Tulsa (14-15) – American Athletic Conference
Toledo (19-12) – Mid-American Conference
UNC Greensboro (23-7) – Southern Conference
UNLV (23-9) – Mountain West Conference
Univ. Texas Rio Grande Valley (17-10) – Western Athletic Conference
Valparaiso (22-9) – Missouri Valley Conference
Here are the first- and second-round matchups, in bracket order:
(Home team listed second)
Dec. 3 at Stephen F. Austin
Jackson State vs. Stephen F. Austin, 7:30 ET
Dec. 4: Arkansas vs. TBD, 7:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 3 at Arizona
New Mexico State vs. UNLV, 5 p.m. ET
UTRGV vs. Arizona, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 4: Winners, 6 p.m. ET
Dec. 3 at Weber State
Pacific vs. Portland State, 5 p.m. ET
CSU Bakersfield vs. Weber State, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 4: Winners, 4 p.m. ET
Dec. 2 at Colorado State
Tulsa vs. UTEP, 7 p.m. ET
Houston Baptist vs. Colorado State, 9:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 3: Winners, 9 p.m. ET
Dec. 2 at Chicago State
Evansville vs. Sam Houston, 6 p.m. ET
Bradley vs. Chicago State, 8:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 3: Winners, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 2 at Valparaiso
Toledo vs. Indiana State, 5 p.m. ET
Butler vs. Valparaiso, 8 p.m. ET
Dec. 3: Winners, 7 p.m. ET
Dec 3 at Troy
UNC Greensboro vs. North Florida, 5 p.m. ET
Middle Tennessee vs. Troy, 7:30 p.m. ET
Dec. 4: Winners, 2 p.m. ET
Dec. 4 at Boston College
Delaware State vs. Boston College, 4 p.m. ET
North Carolina A&T vs. UConn, 7 p.m. ET
Dec. 5: Winners, 4 p.m. ET
“With the explosive growth of volleyball, and how the maturing club scene has allowed dozens of D-I programs to raise the bar of excellence in recruiting, it only makes sense to add to the postseason options in the college game,” said NIVC director Jared Rudiger. “Teams will chase an NIVC title as a reward for experienced rosters, or to provide a true learning experience for young players when it comes to the demands of the postseason.”
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing youth, high school and college events for 40 years. TCS runs both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and produces the men’s and women’s DI Cancun Challenge tournaments in November. Triple Crown is also powering “WNIT” concept events in D-I softball (NISC) and volleyball (NIVC), with those two events debuting in 2017. Triple Crown’s PV College Challenge features 8-10 of the top DI college softball teams in the country each year in Puerto Vallarta, MX.