Silver State set for Junior Olympics |

Silver State set for Junior Olympics

Charles Whisnand column

If the Silver State Volleyball Club 17 and under gold team’s success has come because it’s been sneaking up on opponent, that likely won’t be the case anymore.

The Carson City-based club has made a name for itself heading into the United States Junior Olympics Championships. Even a national publication has begun to notice.

The club will compete in the 17 and under division in the Junior Olympics to be held June 30-July 3 in Salt Lake City. Twenty-eight teams will compete in the event and Silver State was one of 24 clubs to earn an automatic berth to the Junior Olympics.

Studen Sports, a national publication that covers high school sports, has called Silver State a darkhorse in the field and stated the club “is playing great right now.”

The club also already has three players who have verbally committed to Division I schools and will almost assuredly have more. Douglas High Emily Haas has committed to the University of San Diego and Fallon’s Tristin Adams and Carly Sorensen have committed to the University of Nevada.

“It just seemed like when I went to San Diego it clicked,” Haas said. “It feels real good to have it out of the way to know that I’ve committed.”

Silver State took second in the Far Western Championships in Sacramento, losing in the finals to the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, the Nevada Juniors of Las Vegas. Silver State also placed fifth at the Southern California qualifier and ninth at the Colorado Crossroads qualifier, which apparently is called the Colorado Crossroads because it was held in Kansas City, Mo.

But Silver State really raised some eyebrows recently with its performance at the High Rollers Tournament in Sacramento against two of the nation’s top 18 and under teams. Silver State went 7-2 in the event to place third.

Silver State pulled off a stunning upset of Stockton’s Delta Valley and took San Jose’s City Beach to the limit on its way to placing third.

With every outstanding performance, the team’s confidence continues to rise.

“I know I was a little nervous,” said Carson High’s Rachael DeRiemer about facing the competition at the High Rollers event.

But DeRiemer said the team is now not intimidated by any opponent. “We know we can take anyone, basically,” DeRiemer said.

DeRiemer said the team has also learned to overcome sub-par performances.

“Even though we might have a bad match, we can still pull off the win,” DeRiemer said.

But the goal at the Junior Olympics is for the team to be at its best. To be at its best, the team is working on improving in 10 areas on offense and defense, DeRiemer said.

“It’s a lot of individual things that takes away the points that other teams can get,” DeRiemer said.

In addition, the team has learned to come together, DeRiemer said. “We’re real close,” she said. “Last year there were like a couple of little clicks here and there, but this year we’re all together.”

Haas also said team chemistry has been a key. “We used to bicker so much on the court,” she said. “It’s gotten so much better. We’ve just been practicing really hard and our team’s gotten a lot closer.”

Still, DeRiemer said there’s been no magic elixir to the team’s success.

“I don’t know what it is,” she said. “Maybe we’ve just matured.”

While the team hasn’t set any specific goals, DeRiemer said to come away with a medal and a top three finish at Junior Olympics “would be awesome. We just want to play our hearts out.”

Haas said “as long as we play like we know we can play” and “we play as a team and we put it all on the court,” that’s all that matters. “Whatever happens, happens.

“Everybody has come to realize how far we’ve come and how far we can go. We’ve gotten a lot better. I think we’re going to do pretty well. We’ve just been practicing really hard.”

Coach Steve George said his team could be peaking just at the right time.

“One of the keys to winning championships is to get every team member on the same page and playing their best at the end of the season,” George said. “We have really been on a tear lately, competing evenly with two of the top 18s division teams in the nation just a few weeks ago.

“I have great confidence in these girls. They have worked extremely hard to overcome our relative lack of experience and lack of height compared to other top national contenders.”

George said the competition at the Junior Olympics should be wide open.

“There are literally 15 teams that could easily finish in the top three. Usually the top spots are pretty well defined, but this year the teams that are the most focused and playing with passion and determination are going to be the ones on top when everything is said and done. I firmly believe we can be one of those teams.”

George should know. He has coached two clubs to national titles and six others to top five finishes.

The team will put its skills on display tonight as the public is invited to watch its practice from 6 to 8 p.m. Girls going into grades six through nine are encouraged to attend to see what high caliber volleyball is like.

Other team members are: Carson’s Shannon Devereaux and Alyssa Wilson; Douglas High’s Brittany Addeo and Michelle Paterson; Galena’s Joann Hixon; and North Tahoe’s Team Ericson.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.