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Bonneville 17U places second in 17 American division at USA Volleyball Junior Nationals

The Bonneville 17U team with their medals and trophy after placing second in the American 17 division at USA Volleyball Junior National Championships Tuesday in Detroit. Team members are, from left to right, Jordi Holdaway, Paige Dixon, Jet Taylor, Alexis McMurtrey, Makayla Sorensen, Sade Williams and Sadie Lott. Photo courtesy of Chantal McMurtrey

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

Representing eastern Idaho as well as the entire state of Idaho, the Bonneville 17U club volleyball team made an impressive run at the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships.

Bonneville placed second in the 17 American Division at Junior Nationals on Tuesday in Detroit to conclude four days of play. Of the 64 teams in the division, Bonneville began as the No. 7 ranked team. They went 3-0 on Saturday, 2-1 on Sunday and 2-1 on Monday to qualify for the gold bracket as the fifth seeded team out of eight to reach the gold bracket.

In gold bracket play Wednesday, Bonneville defeated W Revolution 17 Elite-KW from Chicago and CTV 17 Elite from Texas to reach the division championship match. They fell in the title match to Uno Girls 17 Elite from Chicago to conclude Junior Nationals with a 9-3 record, including 19 sets won to nine sets lost.

The team, coached by Bonneville head coach Chantal McMurtrey and Bonneville graduate/Eastern Oregon libero Kiley McMurtrey, is comprised of Jordi Holdaway (incoming West Jefferson senior), Alexis McMurtrey (incoming Bonneville junior), Sadie Lott (incoming Bonneville junior), Makayla Sorensen (incoming Bonneville junior), Paige Dixon (incoming Bonneville senior), Sade Williams (incoming Bonneville senior) and Jet Taylor (recent Rigby graduate and incoming Eastern Oregon university freshman volleyball player and track athlete). Alexis McMurtrey, Sorensen and Williams were named to the all-tournament team for the American 17 division.

Chantal McMurtrey said this is the farthest a club team she has coached has made it at USA Volleyball Junior Nationals. Her club team last year competed in the open division of AAU Girls Junior National Volleyball Championships in Orlando and placed ninth. Teams must qualify for USA Volleyball Junior Nationals whereas no qualification is necessary for AAU. She said both national tournaments feature a high level of competition, but USA Volleyball is a bit more prestigious and costly.

“This is the big dog,” Coach McMurtrey said by phone Tuesday evening.

Bonneville 17U qualified for the American division of USA Volleyball Junior Nationals by placing second in a regional tournament in Boise to Idaho Crush, a Nampa-based club program. Several of the teams Bonneville 17U faced in Detroit were from clubs who began playing in November. Bonneville 17U had its first practice in March.

“It’s so different than high school ball,” Coach McMurtrey said. “We were like the only school team at the event. Most of the others were big clubs.”

Tuesday’s title match was an electric atmosphere. Athletes entered to the Olympic Fanfare and Theme and loud announcements and played on a large court.

“A couple of them were pretty nervous,” Coach McMurtrey said. “The lights are bright and it’s a different environment.”

Upon seeing her seven players at their first tournament in March, Coach McMurtrey knew they should try to make it to nationals. She said Taylor and Holdaway were nice additions to her five Bonneville student athletes and fit right in.

“They just fit our style of play, athletic and fast,” Coach McMurtrey said. “They were really fun and definitely got up on our level. Both of them had some big moments.”

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