by Sam Haimann
While the nation-wide, super polar vortex of doom was busy delivering, hopefully, the last of its sting outside, Championship bracket play for the Elite Division inside the NORCO Volleyball facility delivered messages of stone-cold intention for the coming qualification season for National Championship tournament hopefuls to conclude the action at the Triple Crown Colorado Challenge.
We have a quick rundown of the Champions’ run to the top of the Podium ahead of our All-Tournament picks, along with more post event coverage later this week!
Kairos Elite 15 Alpha proved themselves to be a fully fortified unit in the early stages of the season. Making the arduous trek from Sioux Falls, SD, to produce a strong, 7-win tournament card, falling just once, en route to claiming the Championship bracket title with a dominant flourish.
Running through a tough trio of Rocky Mountain Region squads in the knockout round to hoist the Championship hardware, Kairos picked apart Colorado Juniors 15 Jen, Front Range 15-1 Black, and NORCO 15 Black, back-to-back-back, fully vesting their championship credential.
This is a fun, well-disciplined team, that serves tough, and has more than a little grit in their DNA; they will be an interesting group to keep an eye on come qualification season.
The South Dakotan contingent heading back to Sioux Falls carrying the Kairos Elite squads that made the trip to Colorado this weekend will be carrying double hardware home, as the program’s 16 Alpha side showcased a resilient brand of volleyball, prevailing in back-to-back three-set bouts to double up for Kairos.
Surviving a gritty, 19-17 third set with NORCO 16 Black in the semifinals had heart rates buzzing as a finals matchup with Fight Club 16-1 loomed. But don’t talk to Fight Club supporters about cardio. Their semifinal match with Colorado Juniors 16 Kaleena began with a knockdown, drag out first set that went to 31-29 for resolution with the decision going to Fight Club before Colorado Juniors leveled in the second in a win-by-two scenario forcing a deciding set, which was comparatively less dramatic, earning a luxurious six-point margin of victory to shuffle into the title bout.
Kairos would find themselves trailing after the opening frame, but roared back to reverse sweep Fight Club to strike gold showcasing a very similar play style as their younger sisters on 15 Alpha: gritty, and a little hard-nosed, coming all the way back from an 0-2 start to their tournament, winning five of their last six contests to collect the 15 Elite crown.
In a word: Crushed.
It was about as clean a weekend performance as you could hope for if you were a supporter of Idaho Crush 17 Bower, as the high-flying, Orange-clad contingent collected nine wins out of nine, conceding only two sets across three rounds of play, closing with seven consecutive straight-set victories.
Rebounding from a two-touchdown set one loss to NORCO 17 Black back in round one, ID Crush claimed 16 straight sets, including a pair of explosive contests with Colorado Juniors 17 Kevin, the latter of which earned them the 17 Elite championship title. ID Crush doubled up on championship bracket semifinalists MVP 17 Red, and Colorado Juniors, along with site hosts NORCO over the weekend’s action, solidifying their claim to the bracket title.
This Idaho Crush group has balance across the board, with a top-notch signal caller at the helm of an offensive unit that can operate at a high pace when in system, and a defensive corps that can produce strings of consistent ball control, at and across the net, as well as in the second level.
While the season is still early, seeds planted in January, and curated through the spring, can bear fruit for the celebrations of the summer.
***All-Tournament Team picks coming tomorrow!***