Duos clinch national bids after Va. Beach, Raleigh tourneys
June 13, 2015 | Raleigh, N.C.
Liberty University juniors Morgan Horne and Jules Johnson secured a return trip to the July 25 National Collegiate Sand Volleyball Association (NCSVA) National Championships with their seventh-place showing in the open division of the June 6 Tidewater Volleyball Association Big Money tournament in Virginia Beach. This past Saturday, graduate students Ethan Chase and Kaleb VanDePerre punched their ticket to compete in the Santa Monica, Calif., tournament for the first time after placing third at the Southern Sand's Powerade State Games, played in 90-degree temperatures in Raleigh, N.C.
Chase and VanDePerre eliminated fellow Liberty graduate Steven Fawcett and rising junior Aaron Brooks in the second match of the double-elimination men's open division before winning their quarterfinal match and losing to the eventual champions in the semifinal round. Those two Flames pairs had tied for 13th and 17th, respectively, out of 21 open division teams in Virginia Beach.
Rising junior Emily Stotmeister and graduate student Cris Santos won their seven-team pool and tied for third place, losing to the eventual champion in the semifinals, while Carly Lagerquist, who graduated last month, and rising junior Carol Bertholino tied for fifth out of 13 teams in the women's A division at Virginia Beach. Recent graduate Ryan Burtt and rising junior Michael Ragan tied for fifth out of 14 teams in the men's A division.
In the women's A division bracket in Raleigh, Stotmeister and Santos earned a second-place finish in only their second tournament together, falling in the final after eliminating Lady Flames teammates Lagerquist and Bertholino in the playoff opener.
"It's been really exciting to see how much they improve from one week to the next," Willis said of Stotmeister and Santos. "Emily and Cris were especially good at identifying their opponents' tendencies and, when in system, capitalizing on them."
Johnson and Horne and rising junior Brittany Tyree and rising senior Elissa Mulcahy tied for fifth place in women's open play after winning matches in pool play before being eliminated early in the playoffs.
"We will be focusing on improving our efficiency, consistency, and composure over the next several weeks going into our last three tournaments in July," Willis said. "Confidence plays a key role in winning matches at these higher levels, and the more times we play this level of volleyball, the better our teams will perform as they begin to understand how to make plays and win points against tougher opponents."
Liberty returns to Virginia Beach for another Big Money tournament on July 11-12.