By Jeremy McDonald
This summer, the Roseville Tigers boys volleyball team will have six athletes from this years squad competing in the USA Junior National Championships between June 28 and July 5.
“It’s very exciting and very honorable because only top 35 or 40 teams from the nation goes to nationals,” said Neil Reilly. “So it’s a very cool experience to be able to go through and this is my third time going, it’s really cool and it get’s better and better each year though.”
Reilly’s was on Tiger head coach’s Jason Cole’s fifth-place 15’s squad last year and made the All Tournament Team, but the team goal is to medal this year.
“Our team goal is we really want to get a medal, (and) that’s either first, second or third,” said Reilly. “Last year as a 15 team we got fifth, so we definitely want to get up to the medaling position.”
For Nuevo, competing in club this year for the first time and will be participating on the Cole’s 15-year-old’s squad
“I’m very happy to making the team and I’m very excited to play with my new teammates and working with them and getting better with my game,” he said.
Is he nervous knowing that his high school head varsity coach is coaching the team he is on?
“Just a little, not that much though,” Nuevo said. “I love coach Cole, he’s a great coach.”
For Roseville Head Boys Volleyball Coach Jason Cole, who’s also an assistant coach on the 17-1 squad to go with head coaching duties with the 15-1’s, his goals are simple for the kids.
“My goal is to help prepare these younger boys for what the expectations are at the varsity level,” he said.
He also mentioned that Junior National Volleyball is a whole different game because of the type of players that are playing at this level, but acknowledge it’s a wonderful experience for these kids to take away with for their respective high schools.
“We are competing with kids from all over the nation (and) some of these kids at the older levels have already secured D-I volleyball scholarships,” said Cole. “The Junior National Championships give these athletes the opportunity to be looked at by hundreds of college coaches looking for athletes for their program.
“It is a great opportunity for these kids and a wonderful experience.”
Cole has had experience coaching at this level before, prior to his fifth place finish in 2014, his 15’s bronzed in 2013 with nephew Logan Cole who plays at Del Oro, with son Jacob Cole, and Andrew Gruber from Whitney at the game’s at Reno, Nevada.
How they got to this point came down to how they did in qualifiers, the 16’s and 17’s from the Northern California Volleyball Club finished number one in Northern California. The 17’s got their bid from finishing fifth at the SoCal qualifier, on that team, is Cole’s 15-year-old son Jacob.
“It has been quite a year for him being able to play (Outside Hitter) as he usually only plays Libero during club season,” said Jason Cole. “It still blows our mind that he is only 15 and competing against the 17 year old boys.”
The 16’s earn their open bid from finishing first in the NorCal Qualifier. The 15's will be competing in the club division this year.
The 15's are playing in the club division this summer as we did not have enough kids interested to accept the open bid in January," said Cole. "So we had to make a new team in May. Teams compete year round in tournament in hopes of earning an open bid to Jr. Nationals during the summer."
Through it all, Cole is thrilled with how many of his own athletes are playing club and he knows the benefits will pay off down the road in a Section Title, NorCal Championship and a State Championship at Roseville High School in the future.
ROSEVILLE PLAYERS TAKING PART OF JR. NATIONALS:
Jacob Cole 17-1
Neal Reilly 16-1
Sam Toomey 16-1
Tommy Morin 16-2
Cooper Badley 15-1 (RHS JV)
Brian Nuevo 15-1 (RHS JV)
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