Already with a medal in one division, the Ripon-based Rage Volleyball Club looked to continue the success and progress in the Junior National Championships in three different divisions with hopes of medaling again at any level.
The 16s and 17s were able to make it to the final day of the big tournament, but only the 16s are still undefeated with a record of 5-0 in the American division.
The 17s have been in nail biting matches in the USA division and are 4-4 heading into today's action.
For the 16s, Hilmar star Emily Baptista leads the squad in kills after five games, adding on 28 kills in three games played on Tuesday.
“Emily is playing exceptional, it’s nice to see her shine,” said Rage club representative Dave Collins. “Really connecting well with the setter. In both final matches today, she put away critical points to earn the win.”
In four of the five matches, the Rage were able to topple their opponents in straight sets, having won the last 10 matches in that span since dropping the first against T Street Volleyball from Southern California.
The 16s are also the leaders in their division with the highest point ratio. For every point allowed, the Rage have added on a point and a half with a 1.5529 point ratio.
“For the first time this year, every player on this team is healthy and ready to go,” said Collins. “These girls finished 13th in nation last year. If they get in sync and play at the top of their ability they can challenge any team in this division and they can win against any team in this division.”
If the 16s win out today then they will be competing in the gold medal round where they will battle against the top eight teams to win the American title.
The 17s have been battling without their star libero in Pitman’s Ashleigh Phelps, who has been battling a sickness causing some turmoil in the steadiness of play for the Rage.
Also on the team is Phelps’ high school teammate Madelyn Halteman, who has been doing a great job according to her coaches.
Even without a libero and the injuries plaguing the 17s, they are hoping to finish strong.
After Tuesday concluded, the 18-year olds, who were led by Lindsey Vander Weide of Pitman, were booted out of the tourney and finished ranked 23rd in the Open Division.
“Got off to a slow start on day one but was proud of our girls bouncing back to finish the tournament strong showing a lot of character,” said the 18s head coach Garren Allala. “Lindsey is the only junior on the team and played awesome. Despite being the youngest, she rises to the occasion in big matches.”
In numerous occasions, the soon to be senior at Pitman High played the outside hitter position where rose to the high level of competition against top teams in the country, playing with many future Division I players.
She scored points with a lethal jump serve, big arm swing, solid and steady passing, scrambling plays on defense and coach Allala said he was very proud with her much improved blocking.