Easter Sunday at the Mizuno Big South National Qualifier was, without a doubt, the most incredible, zany, unexpected day I’ve seen in the 17 years I’ve been going to events like this. It was a day where everything you think you knew about volleyball went out the window on the heels of one explanation-defying comeback after another.
While I would LOVE to share with you tonight all of the wonders witnessed at the Georgia World Congress Center, those details will have to wait until tomorrow and the days that follow. Because tonight I want to talk once more about Walton of Marietta, PrepVolleyball.com’s 2017 National High School Champions.
At 6:30 this evening, I was privileged to attend a banquet for the Walton team. We reminisced about the Raiders’ 40-1 season, the players received their national championship rings and PrepVolleyball.com gave Walton the national championship trophy and a banner to hang in its gym. A great time was had by all!
The neatest thing is this: of the 18 players on Walton’s varsity roster in 2017, 16 were undergrads who played today at Big South. Five – Gabby Gonzales, Molly Pember, Riley Spurlin, Meghan Froemming and Reilly MacNeill — were on the A5 17-1 Jing team that went 10-0 and won the 17 Open division. Another four – Chandler Parker, Julia Davis, Emery Dupes and Ashlyn Goolsby – were on the A5 15-1 Boba team that won the 15 Open division in unbelievable fashion. Two – Caroline Cheney and Jordan Rush – were on the A5 17-2 Marc team that went 9-1 and medaled in the 17 USA division. Three more – Madison Morey, Phoebe Awoleye and Kendall O’Brien – played on the A5 16-1 Gabe that went 8-1 in 16 Open and missed qualifying by one playoff set. One – freshman Catherine Cheney – was part of the A5 16-2 Scott team that completed an undefeated run in the 16 USA division. And one – Katie Strickland – was on the A5 16-3 Liang team that went 7-1 in 16 American.
That’s incredible, and underscores the legitimacy of Walton’s national championship season!
Congratulations to Walton and its 2017 National Coach of the Year Suzanne Fitzgerald-Sanchez (who coached A5 14-1 Suzanne to fifth in 14 Open despite massive injuries) for an incredible year!
Congratulations also to 17 Open bid winners Wave and Elevation, 16 Open bid winners OTVA (champions), Mizuno Long Beach and San Gabriel Elite and 15 Open bid winners OTVA and Rockwood Thunder. I am very excited to be able to tell your amazing stories!