If the Five Starz Volleyball Club didn’t turn heads in the Northern California youth sports world when it qualified four of its seven travel teams for the recent USA Girls Volleyball Junior National Championships, it certainly has now.
The squads, made up of junior high and high school students from Davis and the surrounding area, performed exceedingly well at the tournament, which was held in Dallas last week and featured some of the best young players in the country.
The club’s U13 and U14 teams each finished among the top 100 in the nation, its U15 squad placed in the top 20 and its U16 team made it all the way to the semifinals of the most competitive bracket. The oldest local crew ended the championships tied for third nationally and received bronze medals.
The teams’ performances were another step forward for Five Starz, which used to be known as the Davis Volleyball Club before it adopted its current moniker while maintaining its nonprofit status four years ago. Since then, the club, which features about 180 girls ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old, has quickly become one of the pre-eminent programs in the Sacramento area and has seen a number of its players succeed at the high school and even collegiate level.
“We’re the up-and-coming club in Northern California,” Five Starz director Liz Towne-Gilbert said before Junior Nationals.
While Five Starz has sent teams to the championships before and even medaled — this year’s U16 squad took second overall as a U15 team in 2012 — this is the first year the club has qualified four squads. According to Five Starz officials, most clubs are happy to see one or two of their teams qualify.
“It’s just an honor to get four teams placed,” Towne-Gilbert said.
The U16 team was expected to do well as its players had medaled the previous year and had competed in several big tournaments, including events in Nevada, Ohio and Los Angeles. But for the less experienced U13, U14 and U15 squads, the strong national performances were a welcome surprise.
And the experience the players gained during their team’s respective runs should only make them even more formidable come next year, when they move up to the next age range. Among those who are expected to contribute at the next level are two of Davis’ own, current U14 players Karlie Kijanka and Samantha Moore.
“They’re two Davis kids who have put in hard work over the last two years to be where they are,” Towne-Gilbert said.
Notes: The U14 team also includes Bailey Avery, Paloma Bowman, Libby Christensen, Kelsey Grover, Alexis Light, Alexa Mathisen, Lexi Matsumura, Claire Schutz, Michelle Taynton and Ryann Thomison. They are coached by Towne-Gilbert. … The U13 squad is made up of Jessica Baker, Olivia Birmingham, Maddie Bisi, Cameron Blakely, Sierra Bonetti, Liliana Light, Isabel Linne, Kyra Peterson, Sarah Phenix, Darci Phenix and Carly Simpson. Karen Gellen mentors the U13s. … Coached by Daba Anglin, the U15 team features Michaela Faaifo, Abby Fitzgerald, Ashlynn Fresques, Maya Gilardi, Kate Jones, Megan Klotz, Lindsey Munar, Kiley Poletti, Annalyse Silva and Kimmy Siu. … Five Starz’s U16 squad — made up of Nastassja Bowman, Anna Donald, Pamela Dungo, Brie Gathright, Kylie Green, Abby Jensen, Mikaela Nocetti, Isabella Smith, Adlee VanWinden, Torrey VanWinden and Brooke Watson — is mentored by Debby Colberg. … For more information about the club, visit www.fivestarzvolleyball.com.
— Reach Will Bellamy at [email protected]