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17 Storm completed an action packed and high stress weekend (just ask the parents who were there!) in Minneapolis at the Northern Lights Qualifier by earning an Open Bid to USA’s Junior National Championships in New Orleans in late June.

The team played its most consistent tournament of the season, with 8 of its 9 matches going to tie-breaker sets, and many of those decided by just a few points. On day 1, Storm would go 2-1 with both of its wins 15-13 in the 3rd set, and a close 2 set loss to Michio Chicago 17 National, an already open qualified team, to get to the top half of the 32 team field.

On day 2, Storm started the day by upsetting the tournaments overall #1 seed, Invasion 17 Black, 15-13 in the 3rd set, to start the day at 8am. Following that huge win, Storm would then play back to back matches, defeating Mizuno WI Jrs 17-1, 15-11 in the 3rd set, before losing to SWI Crush 17 Black, 14-16 in the 3rd set, after running out of gas in the last match. Fortunately, Storm won the pool on a tie break given its win over Invasion, to take the #1 overall seed into Gold Pool play later that afternoon.

At 4pm Storm faced Topeka Impact in a crucial first round match in Gold Pool #1. Storm would prevail, 15-12 in the 3rd set, to complete an improbable day. After refereeing the next match, which went 3 sets of course, Storm would limp out of the convention center (mainly the head coach!) after 11.5 hours.

On day 3, Storm would resume play in Gold Pool #1 at 8am, squaring off against Colorado Jrs Kaepa 17 Sherri. The winner of this match would earn a bid, while the loser would need to keep working to earn a bid or get help from someone else.

Storm would fall 8-15 in the 3rd set after Colorado Jrs displayed one of the finest defensive efforts I have witnessed in 30 years of coaching. Storm would bomb away and somehow they would keep it coming back at us. We later found out that 3 of their back row players have committed to play with Division 1 schools.

Before Storm’s last pool match, they would get the help they needed as Colorado Jrs would defeat Topeka Impact, 15-11 in the 3rd set, to seal the deal for Storm, as that eliminated Topeka Impact from bid contention. In Gold Pool #1 all 6 matches went the full 3 sets!

In its last match of pool play, Storm would fall again, this time to Elevation 17-1, an already open qualified team, 10-15 in the 3rd set, to complete the gauntlet through Gold pool #1 with a 1-2 record, but good enough to finish 3rd in the pool and earn an elusive open bid.

The last match of the tournament for Storm was for 5th place but was not needed as our scheduled opponent, Invasion 17 Black, had already earned an open bid by winning the Mid East Qualifier and the Disney Qualifier…that rematch will have to wait until New Orleans in two months!

Congratulations to 17 Storm for earning SIVBC’s first Open Division bid, and the only Open Division bid in any age group from the Pacific Northwest this year, you certainly earned it!!!


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