Placer High volleyball players compete at national championships

Quirarte made all-tournament team, Leonard now headed to San Jose State
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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Seven Placer High girls' volleyball team members competed in their respective age groups at the Girls' Junior National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Robert McNutt, director of the Northern California Volleyball Club, said seven players from one high school team qualifying and competing at the national championship level is highly out of the ordinary.

"It comes from hard work, good coaches and great players, kids that want to take it to the next level," McNutt said.

Placer High girls who competed in this year's championship between June 28 and July 7 included recent-graduate Michaela Leonard, who is set to play on a full scholarship for San Jose State University. Leonard's 18-1 team took third place in the National division of competition.

Kirstin Schauble, a Placer senior this year, played on the 17-1 Open team, which took 18th place out of 31 teams. Kellyn McDonald, a senior, and Becky Matthews, a junior, played on the 17-2 team National division, which placed 30th out of 47 teams.

Clare McInerney, a junior, played on the 16-1 team in the American division, which took fifth place at the championship. Maddie Graham, a junior, and Raquel Quirarte, a sophomore, both played on the 15-1 American division team, which also finished fifth out of 47 teams.

Quirarte made all-tournament team in her age division, which McNutt said is "a high honor."

Placer High's DJ Sidhu also played on the boys' 15 Club division, which placed eighth. Placer's Tyler Linton played on the 16 Open division, which came in at 23rd place.

Jennifer Wright, head coach of the Placer High girls' team, said big tournaments like the one in Ohio teach her players to be competitive, since many times they're up against or on the same team as highly skilled players from all over the country.

"It's something we've been trying to build here at Placer, not only for the girls to enjoy the game, but also want to excel and be better," Wright said.

McDonald wanted to focus on being competitive when she arrived in Ohio after spending the two previous weeks in Germany. Despite a little fatigue, she was able to practice with her coach to get her timing back before game time.

"I was nervous about playing after all that, but the girls on my team were on the whole time," McDonald said.

It was also Graham's first time competing at the championship level. Though she thinks her team could have done better, Graham enjoyed playing with her teammates.
"I'm proud of them," she said. "We're really good together, so that has helped."

Schauble and McDonald both qualified for the national championship at the Far Western States National Qualifier Tournament. Schauble said qualifying for the Open division was tough because of all the talent she was up against.

"It's definitely different volleyball and it's hard to relate playing here to a higher level team, but obviously when you're playing at that level it makes you better," Schauble said.

Though seven Placer girls played at the national championship, only three were at conditioning on Wednesday. Vacations and other obligations aside, one player that went to the championship will definitely be missing next year.

Schauble said she thinks the team is strong enough to stand on its own as Leonard makes her way to San Jose State.

"As much as we'll miss her we have a lot of players come up to fill those big shoes," Schauble said.

Contact Amber Marra at Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.