Athletes Limitless is a non-traditional particular person competitors, however good old school teamwork paved the best way for Leah Edmond to develop into its 2023 volleyball champion.
With stress to remain atop the leaderboard driving on every of her final-week matches and Alli Linnehan nipping exhausting on her heels, Edmond and her hand-picked crew went 3-0, ringing up the essential “win factors” that helped put captain Edmond on the highest step of the rostrum with 4,313 factors, 565 greater than her former Kentucky teammate.
Right here’s how they completed:
1. Leah Edmond, 4,313
2. Alli Linnehan, 3,748
3. Brooke Nuneviller, 3,582
4. Natalia Valentin-Anderson
5. Morgan Hentz, 3,274
6. Bethania De La Cruz, 3,130
7. Lindsey Vander Weide, 3,118
8. Sydney Hilley, 3,114
9. Genesis Collazo, 2,80
10. Claire Chaussee, 2,939
Click here for the complete points list.
On Monday evening, within the final of 30 matches over 5 weeks at Legacy Park in Mesa, Arizona, Crew Edmond blitzed Crew Linnehan (75-63 mixture, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22), incomes the utmost 180 win factors. Not often can a primary set be known as pivotal, however that unquestionably was the case.
Desperately needing to seize the opener to have a hope of coming from behind on the leaderboard within the make-of-break Bluegrass showdown, Linnehan’s crew had clawed again from a four-point deficit to go forward 21-20 on a kill off the slide by center hitter Molly McCage. That momentum proved short-lived as Crew Edmond ran off the subsequent 4 factors. Reverse Genesis Collazo bought a kill, center Shelly Fanning capitalized on an overpass, Erin Festivals reduce a shot into the center of the online for a hitting error and Edmond scored with a booming spike into the deep third of the courtroom. A side-out later, Fanning completed the set by burying a fast set from Puerto Rican standout Natalia Valentin-Anderson.
Failing to shut the deal seemingly took the starch out of Crew Linnehan (1-2 for the week) and the final two units went in workmanlike trend to Edmond and Co. Voted the primary Most Worthwhile Participant of the match was the energetic setter Valentin-Anderson, whose group hit .281, had two aces and made 16 digs. The 6-foot-2 Fanning, whose courtroom time had been hit-and-miss in earlier weeks, stepped up with 11 kills towards one error on 20 swings, a hitting proportion of .500, and was the MVP2. Edmond earned the nod as MVP3 with 16 kills and 16 digs, reaching the noteworthy stat of notching double-digit kills in every of her 15 matches. Collazo’s contribution additionally was important: 12 kills and 12 digs.
Linnehan discovered powerful sledding towards a block that included 6-foot-4 Kaz Brown, one other Kentucky product, and the scrambling protection behid it, hitting simply .140 with 9 kills towards 4 errors in 40 makes an attempt. Festivals was best within the shedding effort with a .390 hitting proportion and 10 kills, however her single assault error proved ill-timed.
Edmond’s profitable complete included 1,740 win factors (fourth finest total) and league-highs of two,193 stat factors and 380 MVP factors. She rose to the highest after ending fifteenth within the standings throughout Athlete Limitless’s inaugural season of 2021 and sixth in 2022. A captain every week in 2023, Edmond emphasised the significance of familiarity in drafting her squads. Valentin-Anderson, Collazo and Brown had performed along with her in a number of weeks, outdoors hitter Lindsey Vander Weide and libero Kendall White had been on her group in Week 4.
“This was the best group to finish with,” Edmond stated. “They had been superb. The personalities are superb. I like all of them dearly. It was the final time we had been going to play collectively and we simply wished to take pleasure in each second that we may and have enjoyable. That was our objective all week.”
A productive Friday for Linnehan
Edmond entered the Week 5 round-robin with a 265-point benefit over Linnehan, however misplaced some floor after Friday’s matches.
Crew Linnehan took a break up determination over Crew Hentz (81-72 total, 31-29, 25-27, 25-16) within the opener, with a take-no-prisoners third set after a nip-and-tuck first two, each of which went into extra time. Linnehan loved an enormous match, including 393 factors to her complete with 140 (out of a doable 180) win factors, 193 stat factors and 60 extra for being famous the MVP1. Linnehan banged 17 kills with one error of 44 swings (hitting .363), made 9 digs and picked up a solo block.
McCage, the previous Texas star who completed eleventh, earned MVP2 honors with 9 kills towards a single error on 18 makes an attempt (.444 hitting), a solo block and two block assists. McCage’s sharp chopping spike off the slide on a back-set from Nootsara Tomkom was the exclamation level for Linnehan’s crew on its seventh set-point alternative within the prolonged first set.
Within the nightcap, all went easily for Crew Edmond towards Crew Nuneviller by means of two till the practice got here perilously near derailing in a weird third set. Her crew responded mightily to captain Edmond’s hungry eyes within the first and second units, however an important 60 factors for the combination practically slipped out of Edmond’s grasp once they struggled mightily to nail down the important eleventh level within the third.
Working with a 15-point margin after two, trailing 14-7 didn’t appear to be too large of a deal to Crew Edmond. Nonetheless, the scenario turned lethal critical when Nuneviller’s bunch ran off seven factors earlier than a kill by Vander Weide stopped the bleeding at 20-9. An assault error by Bethania De La Cruz put Crew Edmond on the brink at 20-10, solely to see De La Cruz get a kill, Sydney Hilley block Vander Weide, Kayla Caffey reject Edmond’s blast from the again row and famous person De La Cruz put down one other spike.
Now the rely was 24-10. However Vander Weide, who performed at Oregon, lastly clinched the victory (61-60 total, 25-17, 25-18, 11-25) with a tremdendous sideout crosscourt spike that caromed wildly off of De La Cruz. A kill on the short by Caffey ended the set within the favor of Crew Nuneviller on the subsequent level.
Disaster averted for Edmond, whose private tally confirmed 263 factors: 140 wins factors (the final 60 by the pores and skin of her enamel), 83 stat factors and 40 as MVP2. Edmond’s numbers had been fairly good: 14 kills with three errors on 33 assaults, plus 5 digs. Vander Weide chipped in 12 kills and 14 digs. Crew Edmond’s defenders did bang-up work towards De La Cruz, holding her to .133 hitting (10 kills with six errors on 30 assaults). Forty assists and 12 digs earned Valentin-Anderson the MPV1 award.
Afterward MVP3 Vander Weide stated that she and Edmond as outdoors hitters had been “like A and B going collectively.”
Sunday was a enjoyable day for Edmond
Linnehan had reduce Edmond’s leaderboard benefit to 123 heading into the second day of Week 5’s competitors on Sunday.
Nonetheless, Crew Linnehan bumped into instant bother towards Crew Nuneviller, which bought typical manufacturing from a motivated De La Cruz throughout a victory (75-63 total, 25-14, 25-22, 25-27) by which the combination by no means was unsure. Solely taking the third set in extra time nicely after the total-score end result had been settled salvaged 40 factors for Linnehan (12 kills and 9 digs), who got here away with 116 and trailed by 19 earlier than Edmond even took the courtroom within the nightcap.
Noting afterward that she had been irritated by her excessive error rely on Friday, triggered partially by a difficulty in her neck, MVP2 Betty stated that “as we speak was so much higher and we received, in order that was excellent.”
Dominican De La Cruz ripped 18 kills with 5 errors on 46 swings, served an ace and made eight digs. MVP1 Nuneviller, the previous Oregon star, contributed 12 kills, an ace and 12 digs.
The nightcap noticed Edmond take benefit. Her group constructed a 10-point margin over Crew Hentz after the primary set and picked up 140 wins factors (69-57 mixture, 25-15, 25-17, 19-25). Edmond led a balanced assault with 11 kills and 10 digs, sufficient to gather MVP3 accolades, price 20 factors. The MVP1 once more was Valentin-Anderson, who made 5 kills on six errorless makes an attempt, dished 40 assists and dug 12 balls.
Edmond’s 275 factors, together with 115 for stats, pushed her lead over Linnehan to 294 factors heading into the groups’ showdown the subsequent evening.
Within the opener on Monday, Nuneviller completed her first week as a captain with a 2-1 report, defeating Crew Hentz (0-3) by break up determination (70-53 mixture, 20-25, 25-20, 25-19). In a defensive slugfest that featured a number of marathon rallies, MVP1 Nuneviller was a one-woman gang with 17 kills towards 4 errors on 47 swings, 16 digs, an ace and a solo block. Claire Chaussee, the ACC participant of the yr in 2022 for Louisville, concluded a sensational first season in AU with 13 kills, 14 digs and an ace for Hentz’s unit.
“I simply wished to play ‘regular’ volleyball,” Nuneviller stated. “These particular person factors are actually fascinating. These of us who hadn’t performed in AU earlier than hadn’t skilled that. I simply surrounded myself with superior volleyball gamers, particularly as a result of I bought to select this week, and I’m excited we bought the win.”
The surface hitters had been Edmond and Chaussee, the middles had been McCage and Tori Dixon, the alternative was Willow Johnson, the setter was Tomkom and the libero was Hentz. Hentz was named high defensive participant and McCage was the highest blocker,