We spent this week previewing the 15-18 Open Divisions for this weekend’s Triple Crown Sports Pre-Season NIT in Salt Lake City.
You can get caught up on those by clicking the links below:
Three things stand out the most about the festivities in Salt Lake City:
— The Format: Of the 48 teams in Open, 24 elite clubs are divided into three, eight-team power pools on Day 1, void of elimination. Elite teams are facing three elite teams on the first day, kicking the event off with a band – and without fear of those teams not being in contention on Day 2.
— Combining Associations: USAV and JVA both field top-level and elite clubs. Unfortunately, they rarely play anymore until last year’s Pre-Season NIT came along. With JVA powers like Munciana and KiVA suddenly in the mix, the event took on more of a national championship-type feel and atmosphere.
— National Championship Implications: Last year we said it could happen and it did. One of PVB’s National Champions was determined based on the outcome at the Pre-Season NIT. When Munciana defeated Arizona Storm for the 15 Open title last February, there was no way to know both would end the season with gold medals. Munciana claimed the prize at AAUs and Storm at Junior Nationals. Since Munciana owned the head-to-head victory, Munciana ended the season ranked No. 1 in PVB’s Final 15s Club Rankings. It could happen again in 2017.
Don’t just take our word for it, though.
Here’s what last year’s coaches had to share about the tournament:
“TAV has been privileged to be part of Triple Crown since its inception,” TAV’s John Sample said. “Each year the tournament has gotten better and each year more of the top teams in the US have come, making this one of the most competitive tournaments we played in last year. The large number of college coaches in attendance is remarkable and the small footprint in the convention center makes it easy to get around and easy to watch the best play.”
“Triple Crown was the most competitive tournament my AZ Storm team had ever attended,” Arizona Storm’s Terri Spann said. “We loved the high level and intensity of each match. The tournament staff was great, amazing environment and loved how the finals were televised. It also gave college coaches an opportunity to see these girls compete against the best in their class!”
Top Select’s Blake Rawlins is new to the event this year and couldn’t be happier after what he heard of last year’s success.
“I think it’s Nationals in February is pretty much what it is,” he said. “We are extremely excited. It seems like more tournaments should be run like this. I haven’t played in it yet, but 50 college coaches came up to me and told me I needed to go play in it. It’s not like these qualifiers, where on Day 1 and 2 you aren’t getting any better. We want to get better. We want to get pushed. We don’t care if lose some matches in February. We want to be playing the best and beating up on each other. It’s going to be awesome.”
PrepVolleyball.com is providing event coverage all weekend long, so make sure to keep coming back for all the fun and entertainment.