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Elite teams dominate Vegas pool play

By Kirstin Olsen

The 26th Annual Las Vegas Classic, one of the top volleyball recruiting tournaments of the season, kicked off on Saturday in Las Vegas. The three-day event features a record 556 teams (316 in the 18s division and 240 in the 17s) drawn from all over North America. Teams are divided into 18-Open, 18-Club, 17-Open and 17-Club divisions.

Following pool play on Saturday, ESPNHS weighed in on which teams from each Open division brought their A-games.

17 Open Division

Mizuno Long Beach 17 Rockstar

Southern California-based Mizuno Long Beach (Calif.) Rockstar took care of business in pool play on Saturday, dropping only a set to a Main Beach Gold 17-1. Junior setter Sara Hughes recently verbally commited to USC to play sand volley but plans to keep playing indoor volleyball in high school for Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and with Rockstar to keep her options open. Sophomore Frankie Shebby was also a force on the outside.

Tstreet 17 Troy

Tstreet Troy (Irvine, Calif.) went undefeated in pool play behind the strong play of ESPNHS Sophomore of the Year Crissy Jones, sophomore Tia Scambray and standout freshman Hayley Hodson. It will face Southland rival Mizuno Long Beach 17 Rockstar on Sunday.

Mizuno M1

M1 171 (Bloomington, Minn.) won all three of its matches in pool on Saturday, going three full sets with only with LAVA 17 Beau. Minnesota commit Taylr McNeil was a contributor on the outside, while Akron commits Brenna and Callie Mack ran the defense. M1 will face Sports Shack 17-1 (Beverly Hills, Calif.) on Sunday.

OVA 17 Asics

OVA 17 Asics (Orlando, Fla.) went 3-0 on Saturday thanks to some strong play by setter Hailey Luke, a Florida State commit, as well as middle blockers Christina Markowski and Alexandra Monserez. 17 Asics will next face a talented WVBA Mizuno 17 (Seattle, Wash.).

TAV 17 Black

With her impressive 10-foot-5 reach, middle blocker Chiaka Gbogu keyed TAV 17 Black (Ft. Worth, Texas)'s undefeated run through pool play. The Cal commit and 17 Black will face Central Cal Gold 17-1 (Fresno, Calif.) on Sunday.

18 Open Division

Coast Volleyball Club 18 Ozhan

Pinpoint accuracy from setter Alexis Strange allowed Coast 18-1 Ozhan (San Diego, Calif.) to breeze through the first round. Strange, who has verbally committed to Nebraska, bested Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year Alyssa Jensen and Mizuno HPSTL 18 Gold (St. Louis, Mo.).

City Beach Blk 18-1

City Beach (Palo Alto, Calif.) won its pool with but was pushed by Legacy 18 Elite (Santa Clarita, Calif.). City beach boasts the majority of 2011 POWERADE Fab 50 No. 9 Palo Alto’s CIF Division 1 State Championship team. Washington commit and ESPNHS All-American Melanie Wade was a force on the outside.

T Street Joaquin

T Street 18 Joaquin (Irvine, Calif.) looked strong in pool play, despite losing a match to Synergy 18 Orange 25-18, 25-19. Washington commit Cassie Strickland and North Carolina commit JoJo Schnabl were key contributors.

Austin Juniors Mizuno

Austin Juniors 18 Mizuno (Austin, Texas) has an entire roster of signed seniors. Texas Gatorade Player of the Year Amy Neal’s jumping ability coupled with her powerful swings made her a force to be reckoned with on the outside. Austin went undefeated in pool play, beating top contender Imi Ike.

Imi Ike 18s

This Imi Ike team (Waipahu, Hawaii) has some bigtime hitters. Junior Hannah Rooks put up a massive wall on the right side, Hawaii commit Nikki Taylor came up with some big kills and New Mexico commit Ashley Kelsey served tough to help Imi Ike secure the No. 2 seed in its pool.

Taylor Williams also contributed to this report. Kirstin Olsen is live-tweeting the Vegas Classic. Follow her at @KirstinESPNHS.