Durango Fall Classic lures elite competition

Foothill girls volleyball coach Krysta Ortiz takes her Nevada Juniors club team to California twice a month every summer to show the girls high-quality competition.

This weekend, Ortiz’s Falcons don’t have to go farther than their own gym.

The 48-team Durango Fall Classic, one of the marquee girls volleyball tournaments in the western United States, begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Durango, Foothill and Green Valley. Seventeen of prepvolleyball.com’s top 100 teams in the nation as well as eight local teams are set to compete, including defending state champion Silverado and runner-up Green Valley.

The two-day tournament offers a rare opportunity for the top teams in Nevada to test themselves against top teams from California, Hawaii, Utah, Kentucky and other states.

“They’re really looking forward to that pool,” said Ortiz, whose Falcons (5-7) open play against the Skyhawks, Chugiak (Alaska) and Riverside (British Columbia). “I told them who was in there, and they were excited about the competition, especially being able to go up against Silverado (before the first league match).

“They’ve jelled well as a team, and this tournament will help take them one step further in their success.”

Friday’s matches at all three sites will feature the top 32 teams playing in Group A for the chance to start bracket play in the Championship Bracket on Saturday. The tournament’s championship match is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Durango.

“I can say it’s the premier (tournament) throughout the country,” said Bob Kelly, who organized the tourney 16 years ago and continues this year in an advisory role to tournament director Tim Jackson. “And the reason I can say that is the last six years the team that won our tournament went on not only to be ranked No. 1 the following week but the national championship.

“I don’t think any tournament has produced so many eventual No. 1 or top-10 teams in the country.”

The top returning team from last year’s tourney is Newport Harbor (Calif.), which finished second to Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) in the 2009 Championship Bracket finals. The Monarchs couldn’t receive permission to travel outside California for a tournament because of budget and other constraints, Kelly said, but are expected to return next year.

One of the top teams in the country will make a return trip to Las Vegas, though. Assumption (Ky.), which finished third last year and is ranked No. 5 by prepvolleyball.com and defending bronze bracket champion and eighth-ranked La Costa Canyon (Calif.) are among the top 32 teams in the tournament’s Group A that will contend for this year’s Championship Bracket title.

Assumption (15-2) started the season ranked No. 2 in the nation and has defeated four teams from the preseason top 100.

Green Valley is the only team from Southern Nevada competing in the top eight pools, but there is still plenty of competition outside the top 32, Ortiz said.

“For our girls, we told them it’s an opportunity to see how high the level of competition in high school can go,” the fourth-year Foothill coach said, “to push them to get better, to learn how to play against the top teams who have it together and have been playing for a long time. It’s a really good chance for them to get in some extra practice and reps to prepare for their own season.”

The first- and second-place teams in pools 9-12 will face the fourth-place teams in the top eight brackets Saturday morning for a spot in the tournament’s bronze bracket.

“Theoretically, a team seeded 33rd (and outside the championship bracket-set Group A) will still have an opportunity to finish 17th,” Kelly said.

Bishop Gorman, Centennial, Coronado, Durango and Shadow Ridge will also represent Las Vegas in the tournament. But it’s the chance to play the other 40 teams from as far as Georgia and Hawaii that most benefits the local volleyball players.

“It opens up their vision to the quality of volleyball that is played by high-level teams on the West Coast, and back east, like in Kentucky or with our team from Georgia,” Kelly said.
Durango Fall Classic
At Durango, Foothill and Green Valley
Friday’s Matches
Pool Play
Group A (Pools 1-8)
Pool 1 (At Durango)
Assumption (Ky.), Marymount (Calif.), El Dorado (Calif.), Saint Lucy’s (Calif.)
Assumption vs. El Dorado, 3 p.m.
Marymount vs. Saint Lucy’s, 4 p.m.
Assumption vs. Marymount, 5 p.m.
El Dorado vs. Saint Lucy’s, 6 p.m.
Marymount vs. El Dorado, 7 p.m.
Assumption vs. Saint Lucy’s, 8 p.m.

Pool 2 (At Green Valley)
La Costa Canyon (Calif.), Redondo Union (Cailf.), Edison (Calif.), Green Valley
La Costa Canyon vs. Edison, 3 p.m.
Redondo Union vs. Green Valley, 4 p.m.
La Costa Canyon vs. Redondo Union, 5 p.m.
Edison vs. Green Valley, 6 p.m.
Redondo Union vs. Edison, 7 p.m.
La Costa Canyon vs. Green Valley, 8 p.m.

Pool 3 (At Foothill)
Xavier Prep (Ariz.), Torrey Pines (Calif.), Mira Costa (Calif.), Pleasant Grove (Utah)
Xavier Prep vs. Mira Costa, 3 p.m.
Torrey Pines vs. Pleasant Grove, 4 p.m.
Xavier Prep vs. Torrey Pines, 5 p.m.
Mira Costa vs. Pleasant Grove, 6 p.m.
Torrey Pines vs. Mira Costa, 7 p.m.
Xavier Prep vs. Pleasant Grove, 8 p.m.

Pool 4 (At Durango)
Central Catholic (Ore.), Santa Barbara (Calif.), Gilbert (Ariz.), Bingham (Utah)
Central Catholic vs. Gilbert, 3 p.m.
Santa Barbara vs. Bingham, 4 p.m.
Central Catholic vs. Santa Barbara, 5 p.m.
Gilbert vs. Bingham, 6 p.m.
Santa Barbara vs. Gilbert, 7 p.m.
Central Catholic vs. Bingham, 8 p.m.

Pool 5 (At Green Valley)
Redlands East Valley (Calif.), Long Beach Poly (Calif.), Northview (Ga.), Thousand Oaks (Calif.)
Redlands East Valley vs. Northview, 3 p.m.
Long Beach Poly vs. Thousand Oaks, 4 p.m.
Redlands East Valley vs. Long Beach Poly, 5 p.m.
Northview vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Long Beach Poly vs. Northview, 7 p.m.
Redlands East Valley vs. Thousand Oaks, 8 p.m.

Pool 6 (At Foothill)
Lakewood (Calif.), Sacred Heart (Ky.), Clovis West (Calif.), Great Oak (Calif.)
Lakewood vs. Clovis West, 3 p.m.
Sacred Heart vs. Great Oak, 4 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Sacred Heart, 5 p.m.
Clovis West vs. Great Oak, 6 p.m.
Sacred Heart vs. Clovis West, 7 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Great Oak, 8 p.m.

Pool 7 (At Durango)
Los Alamitos (Calif.), Kamehameha (Hawaii), Saint Mary’s (Calif.), Bishop O’Dowd (Calif.)
Los Alamitos vs. Saint Mary’s, 3 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. Bishop O’Dowd, 4 p.m.
Los Alamitos vs. Kamehameha, 5 p.m.
Saint Mary’s vs. Bishop O’Dowd, 6 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. Saint Mary’s, 7 p.m.
Los Alamitos vs. Bishop O’Dowd, 8 p.m.

Pool 8 (At Green Valley)
Newport Harbor (Calif.), Harvard-Westlake (Calif.), Wilson (Calif.), South Torrance (Calif.)
Newport Harbor vs. Wilson, 3 p.m.
Harvard-Westlake vs. South Torrance, 4 p.m.
Newport Harbor vs. Harvard-Westlake, 5 p.m.
Wilson vs. South Torrance, 6 p.m.
Harvard-Westlake vs. Wilson, 7 p.m.
Newport Harbor vs. South Torrance, 8 p.m.

Group B (Pools 9-12)
Pool 9 (At Foothill)
Teams: Chugiak (Alaska), Riverside (Canada), Silverado, Foothill
Chugiak vs. Silverado, 3 p.m.
Riverside vs. Foothill, 4 p.m.
Chugiak vs. Riverside, 5 p.m.
Silverado vs. Foothill, 6 p.m.
Riverside vs. Silverado, 7 p.m.
Chugiak vs. Foothill, 8 p.m.

Pool 10 (At Durango)
Clovis (Calif.), Bishop Gorman, Rim of the World (Calif.), Durango
Clovis vs. Rim of the World, 3 p.m.
Bishop Gorman vs. Durango, 4 p.m.
Clovis vs. Bishop Gorman, 5 p.m.
Rim of the World, 6 p.m.
Bishop Gorman vs. Rim of the World, 7 p.m.
Clovis vs. Durango, 8 p.m.

Pool 11 (At Green Valley)
Newbury Park (Calif.), Sacred Heart (Calif.), Galena, Shadow Ridge
Newbury Park vs. Galena, 3 p.m.
Sacred Heart vs. Shadow Ridge, 4 p.m.
Newbury Park vs. Sacred Heart, 5 p.m.
Galena vs. Shadow Ridge, 6 p.m.
Sacred Heart vs. Galena, 7 p.m.
Newbury Park vs. Shadow Ridge, 8 p.m.

Pool 12 (At Foothill)
Buchanan (Calif.), Coronado, Centennial, Seaquam (Canada)
Buchanan vs. Centennial, 3 p.m.
Coronado vs. Seaquam, 4 p.m.
Buchanan vs. Coronado, 5 p.m.
Centennial vs. Seaquam, 6 p.m.
Coronado vs. Centennial, 7 p.m.
Buchanan vs. Seaquam, 8 p.m.

Saturday’s Matches
The Nos. 1 and 2 teams in Pools 1-8 will form the Championship Qualifying Round at Durango
  First-round winners form the eight-team Championship Bracket
  First-round losers form the eight-team Silver Bracket

The No. 3 teams in Pools 1-8 advance to the Bronze Qualifying Round at Green Valley
The No. 4 teams in Pools 1-8 and the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in Pools 9-12 will form a 16-team Knockout Round.
  First-round winners in the Knockout Round join the Bronze Qualifying Round at Green Valley.
  First-round losers in the Knockout Round move into the Classic Qualifying Round at Foothill.

Bronze Qualifying Round
  First-round winners form the eight-team Bronze Bracket
  First-round losers form the eight-team Competition Bracket

Classic Qualifying Round
  The eight Knockout Round losers join the Nos. 3 and 4 teams in Pools 9-12
  First-round winners form the eight-team Classic Bracket
  First-round losers form the eight-team Contender Bracket