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Tawa’s Daily Dots: Top OHs, HS predictions, tallest 15s team, respects to CJ Hunter

Daily Dots, February 12, 2021, Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not):

• Discovering the nation’s talented freshmen is one of my favorite annual pastimes. Yesterday, I put out feelers, to smarter people than I, seeking their opinions about which freshman (Class of 2024) is the top current recruiting target nationally. This is a tougher ask this year because COVID-19 has limited the ability to evaluate in person. After listening to various opinions, I have narrowed the list of the top talent to three outside hitters:

Babi Gubbins, 6-3 OH, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California), Tstreet
Lauren Harden, 6-3 OH, Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Indiana), Team Indiana
Skyler Pierce, 6-1 OH, Northwest (Olathe, Kansas), Dynasty

Babi Gubbins

All are extreme terminators with big jumps and strong arms. The nod at this time, however, goes to Gubbins because not only does she have elite hitting range, but she also is a natural passer.

• In April and May, several months before the fall high school season, I predicted the one team in each state that I thought would be the best of the best. I did it on Twitter @VolleyHigh, back when I was thinking of starting my own site again. Thirty-one (31) states have crowned champions so far this school year. How many of my predicted “best of the best” were among those state champions? A grand total of 14. Hoover (Alabama), St. Mark’s (Delaware), Notre Dame Academy (Kentucky), Teurlings Catholic (Louisiana), Jackson Academy (Mississippi), Capital (Montana), North Raleigh Christian (North Carolina), Century (North Dakota), Gilmour Academy (Ohio), North Allegheny (Pennsylvania), O’Gorman (South Dakota), Brentwood (Tennessee), Lovejoy (Texas) and Laramie (Wyoming). I’ll leave it to the readers to decide if that’s good predicting. Genius soothsayer or dope? What say you?

• Before 1920, unlimited volleys were permitted to send the ball over the net. It changed that year to three, which also is the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop.

• For those unfamiliar with the tootsie pop reference, that was to a 1982 commercial where an owl takes three licks in response to the question, then chomps and proclaims the number to be three. Enterprising folks subsequently set about trying to determine the real number. Licking machines were built both at the University of Michigan and Purdue. The Michigan machine licked 411 times. At Purdue, it was 364. Incidentally, human lickers usually get there in less than 200.

• When I conceived of the “10-Foot Club” for in 2015, we had Justine Spann, a high school senior and daughter of AZ Storm director Terri Spann, pose for the cover photo. She was up close and personal with a basketball rim. At the time, Spann stood just 5-7 but could jump touch 10-2. As impressive as that is, by the time Spann completed her senior year at Colorado, she was jump touching 10-5!!!

CJ 15 Sherri

• Is Colorado Juniors 15 Sherri the tallest 15s team in the country? The squad boasts two players who go 6-4: pin Avah Armour and middle Addie Kanouff. Pin hitter Paityn Chapman, who stands almost 6-3, is perhaps the team’s most dynamic player. And three other players, middles Alexandra Golob and Marae Reilly, and setter/pin Izzy Starck, are right at the 6-0 mark.

• In yesterday’s Dots, I wrote about the longest volleyball match ever played. It took place in “Kingston” North Carolina. I speculated that it was an urban myth because there are no details available about the match and Kingston is not a place in North Carolina. A resourceful person in the “Volleyball Coaches and Trainers” Facebook group pointed out that Kinston, North Carolina was originally called Kingston. However, the town officially became Kinston in 1784, 111 years before volleyball was invented.

Jacksonville Juniors Volleyball Academy had 16 players sign letters of intent in the Class of 2021. Recruiting coordinator CJ Sherman said that one of the keys to recruiting success in the midst of a pandemic was encouraging the athletes to post video of EVERYTHING.

“Meeting your rescue dog, working out, peppering with a parent/sibling, lifting weights, box jumps, grabbing the rim of your basketball goal, setting on the wall, setting in the goal, passing off a piece of plywood anything and everything.”

Anything that showed personality, or that an athlete was staying active, or remaining passionate about volleyball was helpful to colleges trying to evaluate when their coaches couldn’t be out there in person.

“JJVA is proud of the class of 2021 as they were struck down in the midst of an awesome season where recruiting was paramount,” Sherman said. “However, the class responded and dug in and goals were achieved.”

• In Southern California, the Premier Volleyball League formed this fall with the idea of getting teams playing high level volleyball faster than the SCVA Region’s Mandatory Tournament structure. By all accounts, the league, which includes about 100 clubs, has been a success in its first year of trying to prove its concept. PVL events have been getting teams in and out of gyms quickly and safely, in a time when keeping people safe is of utmost concern. The PVL will conduct a President’s Day Weekend event Friday through Monday and will have teams from outside the region, like AZ Storm and Sudden Impact (Washington), there as well.

• Finally, we at pay our respects to CJ Hunter, an assistant director at Triangle VBC in North Carolina and the head coach of the 14 Blue team. CJ passed away unexpectedly on Monday at the club’s facility. He was just 29 years old and a beloved coach to countless athletes and a dear friend and colleague.

“Our Triangle family and the volleyball community are devastated. CJ was the most passionate, caring, and committed coach and leader. Volleyball was his life’s work and he put the entirety of his heart and soul into his athletes and fellow coaches.” said Executive Director Sherry Fadool.

Contact John Tawa at

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