Four Manhattan Beach girls medal at AAU National Beach Volleyball Championships
The Kelly household in Manhattan Beach experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in one afternoon after sisters Leah and Lindsey reached the championship games in the respective age divisions at the 22nd annual AAU Junior Beach Volleyball National Championships in Hermosa Beach.
The siblings came close to bringing home two gold – or silver – medals but settled for one of each.
In the Girls 12U championship game at center court, the Manhattan Beach team of Ava Gallien and Leah Kelly held a lead before Savannah Standage (San Pedro) and Emily Sparks (Huntington Beach) rallied for a 21-18 victory.
A short time later in the Girls 14U finals, Lindsey Kelly and partner Zoe Almanza, of Los Angeles, also saw a lead slip away. This time, however, Kelly and Almanza used their own late rally for a 21-19 gold-medal win.
The duo has played together for two years and, with the victory, earned a spot in the AAU Best of the Beach tournament presented by Kauai Bikini. Featuring Girls 14U and 16U qualifiers, the event will be held July 31-Aug. 2 at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica.
“It feels great to win the Nationals,” Kelly said. “We kept the pressure on the other team and it worked for us.”
Kelly, who attends Harvard-Westlake High School, will have little time to celebrate as she will be leaving the sand for the hardwood playing indoor volleyball at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championship in Des Moines, Iowa July 16-26. Kelly is one of 55 athletes in the nation chosen to participate in the USAV HP Select A1 program.
Manhattan Beach boasted another medal winner at the AAU Jr. National Championships when Presley Forbes and Alyssa Slagerman (Santa Monica) won silver in the Girls 16U division.
The duo fell to Jamie McQuarrie (Encinitas) and Hannah Phair (Huntington Beach) 21-14 in the championship game.
“This tournament – and competition level – continues to grow,” Commissioner Gino Grajeda said. “We had more than 300 teams on 60 courts with representatives from 20 states. There were also college coaches from across the country watching the girls play.”
Now that beach volleyball is an NCAA sanctioned sport (in June the NCAA changed the name from sand volleyball to beach volleyball), the AAU Jr. National Championships featured 80 teams in the Girls 18U and 16U divisions who showcased their talent for representatives from numerous universities.
The AAU returns to Hermosa Beach Thursday through Sunday, July 23-26 when the West Coast Junior Olympics take place featuring Boys 16U and Girls 12U, 14U, 15U, 16U and 18U divisions.
For complete results, visit aaubeach.org.
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