Youth volleyball teams headed to nationals

Several area youth volleyball teams will hit the national stage this week and next in Minneapolis.

Two Bonneville Bees teams and two more from Idaho Falls will compete at the USA Volleyball 2014 Junior Volleyball National Championships.

The tournament, considered the top club volleyball tournament in the nation, began earlier this week and runs through the end of the next week.

“This is a great experience,” said Bonneville High School coach Chantal McMurtrey, who will coach the Bees’ 13s.

Idaho Falls High School coach Wendy Johnson, who is coaching the I.F. 18s, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s elite competition … You’re playing the best,” Johnson said. “I’m a firm believer that you get better when you play good competition.”

McMurtrey said her 13s have been the best team in their age group in the Intermountain Region, qualifying for this week’s tournament by winning their regional tournament. And while the team features four 12-year-olds, McMurtrey said the team could make some noise. The 13s begin pool play in the National Division at 2 p.m. Thursday. The 12s begin play at 7 a.m. Friday in the National Division.

“They’re pretty advanced,”

she said. “We want to get (to nationals) and see how we stack up.”

Both Bees teams are made up entirely of players who will attend Bonneville High School.

The I.F. teams are made up of a mix of players. The 16s feature six players from Idaho Falls and two from Skyline, while the 18s feature two players from I.F., two from Century, two from Snake River, one from Highland and one from Filer.

The I.F. 16s, coached by ISU assistant Keisha Fisher and Skyline assistant Theresa Anderson, kick off play Monday in the National Division. The I.F. 18s begin play Saturday in the American Division.

Two other Bonneville High School players will be competing in the tournament. Courtney Macdonald will play for the Pocatello Elite 15s in the National Division, while Haylie Keck will play for the Pocatello Elite 17-1 in the 17 National Division.