DEL MAR — The Encinitas Wave Volleyball Club took home the silver medal in the 18-and-under open division at the
30th annual USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior Olympic Championships held June 26 through July 5 in Miami. It was the highest Junior Olympic finish for that age division in the club’s history.
One of 28 teams to qualify in their division, Wave entered the competition seeded 10th in the nation. The team won five of its first six matches — including one to North County rival Coast Volleyball Club — to place first in what coach Brennan Dean described as a “tough pool” and advance to the playoffs.
The girls defeated Circle City from Indianapolis in the quarterfinals and No. 2-seeded Laguna in the semifinals 25-22, 29-31, 25-19, 25-23.
“The game against Laguna was by far the best we ever played all year long,” Dean said. “It was a great epic battle.”
The Nebraska Juniors took home the gold after defeating Wave 25-15, 25-18, 25-18.
Dean said what made the competition all the more exciting was that unlike most teams that had 12 players, Wave only had 10. “So we had to be in the most tiptop shape possible,” he said.
To prepare, Dean and his assistant coach, Tanner Kortman, ran two volleyball practices and two running drills a week. The training paid off. “At the end, our girls’ legs still looked fresh,” Dean said. “That was a big defining factor.”
The team, which was mostly graduated seniors from La Costa Canyon, Cathedral Catholic, Santa Fe Christian and Francis Parker high schools, included Victoria Adelhelm, Jenny DeVries, Katie and Lacey Fuller, Carolyn Hillgren, Taylor Johnson, Kristin Miller, Lydia Rudnick, Samantha Slavinsky and Lexi Williamson.
Dean said he and Kortman, who are both 28, were the youngest coaches at the event.
Encinitas Wave was founded in 1999 by Ed Machado, a four-year starting setter for UCLA who has coached at his alma mater, San Diego State and UC San Diego. He served as head coach at La Costa Canyon High School, leading the team to a Division 1 CIF Championship during three of his four years there.
The club qualified teams in seven age divisions for the 2009 Junior Olympics and came home with five medals — the most earned by any one club in the nation this year.