A trip to Columbus, Ohio, for the USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships at the beginning of July closed out a season that began with tryouts in August for youngsters out of the Mountain View Volleyball Club.
The year-long commitment for five of the teams resulted in bronze medals at nationals, including in the Open Division for the MVVC 16 Red squad.
“It exceeded expectations,” said Jonah Carson, the club director, who this week traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to act as a mentor coach at the USA High Performance Championships after earlier in the summer coaching the men’s junior national team at the World Championships in the Czech Republic. “In terms of where the boys club is, our goal is really focused on creating a culture where young kids can develop and they can be competitive — and we let each team determine what competitiveness means. And so we felt like we went and we had some good, competitive teams and they actually earned some accolades for that, which is obviously super cool.
“But I think we’re really just proud of how well the kids played and how much we improved. You don’t start out with a medal team on Day 1, it’s something that you develop.”
To compete at nationals it was necessary to qualify for the Open Division, or apply for an at-large bid.
A lower Club Division was offered to anyone who registered. It was the only option for the 12- and 13-year-old age groups, with the MVVC 12 Red and 13 Red teams both finishing third.
“The red teams are kind of built to be top teams,” said Carson, who coaches the 17 Red squad. “To go compete at a really high level.”
But with more interest than spots available, Mountain View Volleyball Club expanded to include secondary squads. At nationals, the 14 Black and 15 Black club entries for MVVC also claimed bronze.
“The fact that we have two teams doing so well is one of the best testaments about our club,” said Carson, with five other teams also cracking the top 10. “I think that’s something that separates us from a lot of other club teams nationally.”
Six players were recognized as all-tournament selections:
• Jason Shen (17 Red);
• Cole Gillis (16 Red);
• Gautham Dasari (16 Red);
• Matt Yang (15 Black);
• TJ Ng (15 Black);
• Mohan Duvvuri (15 Red).
“I think it’s awesome for the exposure,” Carson said. “Every kid we have that wants to play college volleyball ends up playing college volleyball.”
Although not every member of the Mountain View Volleyball Club is interested in playing at the next level.
“I think the fact that we’re able to offer experiences for both of those type of players is pretty neat for us,” Carson said. “You mention Jason Chen and Cole Gillis, those guys are going to play and want to play in college. But for every one guy we have like that, we’ve got one or two guys who just play because they love the game and their friends play and they like competing.”
Tryouts for the next cycle take place Aug. 11-12.
“We really draw from all throughout the Bay Area,” Carson said. “San Jose to Atherton to Santa Cruz to Los Gatos to Pleasanton — we have kids from all over.”
The boys turn from teammates into rivals from February until the middle of May, when the pause button is pushed for the prep season.
Even the coaches turn into frenemies, often meeting in the Central Coast Section championships.
“One of the things that I think it’s done is really raise the overall level of CCS, and really Northern California volleyball,” said Carson, who guided the boys at St. Francis High in Mountain View to a CCS Division I title in the spring. “So I think it’s a real positive, healthy, fun competitiveness. The guys know each other and they like playing against each other, and I think it’s been really good for high school volleyball.”