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Hamilton Southeastern volleyball moves to No. 5 after massive win

Hamilton Southeastern’s Tiffany Snook, right, celebrates with teammate Madison Evett during a regional final against McCutcheon on Saturday. (Alex Martin/Journal and Courier via USA TODAY NETWORK)

It was the match the Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) volleyball team waited all season to play, and the Royals made the most of it.

After dropping the first set, Hamilton Southeastern battled back to win 3-1 (16-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-19) over McCutcheon in a Class 4A regional final Saturday, sending the Royals to the semi-state round and extending their winning streak to 32 matches.

The win avenged Hamilton Southeastern’s season-opening 3-1 loss to the Mavericks on Aug. 13. It also guaranteed the end of McCutcheon’s reign as 4A state champion.

In Saturday’s match, Hamilton Southeastern matched a season-high in kills with 59. Duquesne University commit Avery Hobson led the way for the Royals, finishing with 14 kills and 16 digs. Lauren Harden added 11 kills and six blocks, while Breonna Goss chipped in 10 kills and six blocks. Sophie Ledbetter paced Hamilton Southeastern’s defense with 23 digs, and Macy Hinshaw contributed 24 assists and 11 digs. Tiffany Snook finished with seven blocks.

Purdue commit Chloe Chicoine, the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2023, had a match-high 31 kills for McCutcheon, but it wasn’t enough to stymie the Royals, who used their size to their advantage and were dominant defensively.

The win over the Mavericks, who were previously ranked No. 3, vaults Hamilton Southeastern seven spots to No. 5 in this week’s Just Women’s Sports volleyball team rankings. The Royals will continue their quest for the 4A state title with a semi-state showdown against Lake Central on Saturday.

Check out the complete rankings below, and click here to view last week’s rankings.

1. Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), 35-0

Another victory brings another sweep for the Dons, who have yet to drop a set this season. They conclude the regular season Thursday against Del Norte.

2. Cornerstone Christian (Texas), 55-2

Nayeli Gonzalez (573 kills) and Megan Fitch (495 kills) lead the Warriors’ high-powered offense, while Alex Manitzas has a team-leading 436 digs to pace the defense.

3. Mira Costa (Calif.), 35-3

The Mustangs had a .385 hitting percentage as a team in a sweep of Palos Verdes on Tuesday. They’ll conclude pool play in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division I Championships on Saturday against Mater Dei.

4. Westminster Christian (Fla.), 24-0

The Warriors defeated NSU University in straight sets Tuesday to advance to the Class 3A region semifinals. They’ll take on Riviera Prep on Friday, with a spot in the region final on the line.

5. Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.), 32-1

Until Saturday’s win over McCutcheon, the Royals hadn’t dropped a single set in more than a month of action.

6. Washburn Rural (Kan.), 40-1

The Blues eased past Dodge City and Manhattan on Saturday to claim a sub-state crown and will now turn their attention to the Class 6A state tournament, which begins with pool play on Friday.

7. Prestonwood Christian (Texas), 35-1

The Lions’ win over Ursuline Academy on Tuesday extends their winning streak to 23 matches. They wrap up their regular season Thursday against Liberty Christian.

8. Bloomfield Hills Marian (Mich.), 42-1

The Mustangs claimed the Catholic High School League Bishop Division tournament championship with ease, defeating Mercy 3-0 on Tuesday to clinch the title. They went 6-0 on Saturday, winning 12 straight sets to earn a spot in the final.

9. Highland Park (Texas), 39-2

Winners of 17 straight, the Scots wrapped up their regular season with a win over MacArthur on Tuesday. Led by 10 seniors, Highland Park will now turn its attention to the postseason.

10. Fayetteville (Ark.), 34-2

Stanford commit Brooke Rockwell finished the regular season with a team-leading 464 kills for the Bulldogs, who opened the Class 6A tournament Wednesday with a 3-0 win over Bentonville West. They’ll square off against Cabot on Thursday in the state semifinals.

11. Tompkins (Texas), 36-3

The Falcons knocked off Paetow in straight sets Tuesday to conclude the regular season. Cindy Tchouangwa has 487 kills to lead Tompkins, which has won 16 in a row entering the playoffs.

12. McCutcheon (Ind.), 33-2

Chicoine had 549 kills to wrap up her final varsity season, after the Mavericks were stunned by Hamilton Southeastern in a Class 4A regional final on Saturday.

13. Oconomowoc (Wis.), 35-1

The Raccoons opened the playoffs with a win over Neenah on Saturday and will take on Watertown on Thursday in a Division 1 sectional final. They’re led by Florida Tech commit Cordelia Kearns, who has 363 kills.

14. Marymount (Calif.), 30-7

The Sailors fell to Newport Harbor 3-2 in pool play of the CIF Southern Section Division I Championships on Tuesday but will try to stay alive when they face Sierra Canyon on Saturday.

15. Cypress Ranch (Texas), 41-2

The Mustangs have won 25 straight and will wrap up their regular season Friday at Fulshear. Texas A&M commit Bianna Muoneke leads Cypress Ranch with 742 kills on the season.

16. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 31-4

The Trailblazers are 2-0 in pool play of the CIF Southern Section Division I Championships after knocking off Huntington Beach in straight sets on Tuesday. Now, they’ll wrap up pool play and try to avenge a loss from earlier this month when they take on Marymount on Saturday.

17. St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.), 35-3

The Saints claimed a sub-state title on Saturday and will now head to the Class 5A state tournament, which begins with pool play on Friday.

18. Yorktown (Ind.), 33-2

The Tigers avenged an early-season loss when they knocked off Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory 3-1 on Saturday. They followed that up by defeating Brownsburg in straight sets to claim the regional crown. Yorktown continues its quest for a Class 4A title when it takes on Floyd Central on Saturday in the semi-state round.

19. Mother McAuley (Ill.), 33-3

The Mighty Macs ended their regular season with a straight-set win over Argo on Tuesday. The sectional round awaits, as Mother McAuley begins postseason play Thursday against Lane Tech.

20. ‘Iolani (Hawaii), 23-5

The Raiders won their 10th in a row after sweeping Kapolei on Wednesday. The win advances them to the Division I semifinal round, where they’ll take on Mililani on Thursday.

21. Dike-New Hartford (Iowa), 43-2

The Wolverines claimed the Class 2A Region 4 title with a 3-0 win over Grand View Christian on Wednesday. Payton Petersen has 430 kills to lead Dike-New Hartford, which continues its quest for a third straight state championship Tuesday in a state quarterfinal match against Kuemper Catholic.

22. Buford (Ga.), 36-5

The Wolves downed East Coweta in straight sets Tuesday in the state quarterfinals, extending their winning streak to 16 matches. The win moves Buford into the final four in Class 7A, with a matchup against North Gwinnett slated for Saturday.

23. Mater Dei (Calif.), 29-7

Straight-set wins over Palos Verdes and Lakewood send the Monarchs into a crucial battle of pool-play unbeatens in the CIF Southern Section Division I Championships. On Saturday, they’ll face Mira Costa, with whom they split a pair of matches earlier this season.

24. Saint Francis (Calif.), 28-0

The Lancers remain unbeaten after knocking off Archbishop Mitty in a 3-2 decision Tuesday. They begin action in the CIF Central Coast Section tournament this weekend.

25. St. James Academy (Kan.), 34-3

The Thunder swept Leavenworth and Spring Hill to claim a sub-state title in Class 5A. They begin pool play at the state tournament on Friday.

Trent Singer is the High School Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @trentsinger.

New Washington Spirit Head Coach Jonatan Giráldez Arrivin DC

head coach Jonatan Giráldez
Jonatan Giráldez joins the NWSL from FC Barcelona Femení. (Ramsey Cardy/UEFA via Getty Images)

Five months after announcing that the Washington Spirit had hired Barcelona Femení coach Jonatan Giráldez as the team's new head coach, Giráldez has joined the club in Washington, DC.

Giráldez is coming off of a successful season with the Spanish side, having won UEFA Women's Champions League, Copa de la Reina, Supercopa, and Liga F in his final season to complete a lauded Quadruple.

While Giráldez was finishing out his tenure in Europe, Adrián González filled in as Spirit interim head coach. González has also seen success, leading the team to its third-place standing with a 9-3-1 record through 13 games.

“I’m thrilled to join the Spirit and begin this next chapter with the club,” Giráldez said in an official team statement. “To be part of the vision Michele Kang has for the Spirit and women’s soccer globally is an exciting opportunity.”

Giráldez has worked at Barcelona since 2019, initially coming on as an assistant coach before moving up to head coach in 2021. The team went 30-0-0 on the season under Giráldez during his first year as manager.

He brings along with him Andrés González and Toni Gordo, who will serve as the Spirit's Fitness Coach and Club Analyst, respectively.

US Track & Field Olympic Trials Touch Down in Oregon

Sha’Carri Richardson competes in the women’s 200-meter preliminary round during the USATF Outdoor Championships
Sha’Carri Richardson will have some competition this week as athletes vie for an Olympic berth. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Track & Field Trials begin on June 21st, kicking off a 10-day quest to determine who will represent the US in Paris this summer.

The crucial meet will take place in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three finishers in each event will punch their ticket to the 2024 Olympics. As with this past week's US Swimming Trials, even the most decorated athletes must work to earn their spot — and one bad performance could undermine four years of preparation.

Reigning 100-meter World Champion Sha'Carri Richardson headlines this year's field, as the 24-year-old looks to qualify for her second Olympic Games and compete in her first. Richardson is a world champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, but missed the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC shortly after the last US Olympic Trials.

Other standouts include 400-meter Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who's currently the most decorated athlete in the active women's US Track & Field pool. McLaughlin-Levrone qualified to run in the 200-meter and 400-meter flat races alongside the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials, but opted to focus solely on her signature event.

800-meter specialist Athing Mu will also be a huge draw this week, as the Olympic gold medalist looks to shake off a lingering hamstring injury while pursuing her second Summer Games. Gold medal-winning pole vaulter Katie Moon will also attempt to qualify for her second-straight Olympic Games.

Ole Miss star McKenzie Long could be Richardson's greatest competition in the 100-meter and 200-meter events, as well as Richardson's Worlds teammate Gabby Thomas in the 200-meter. In field events, watch for Oregon senior Jaida Ross going head-to-head with reigning world champion Chase Jackson in the shot put, as both push for their first Olympic team berth.

Regardless of why you tune in, the US Olympic Trials are a perpetually thrilling and sometimes brutal qualification process. If you're able to make your way to the head of the pack, a shot at Olympic glory might just be waiting at the finish line.

Fans can catch live coverage throughout the Trials via NBC, USA, and Peacock.

Top Teams Square Off in NWSL Weekend Slate

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda
Orlando Pride, led by forward Barbra Banda, will take on Utah in this weekend's NWSL action. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the NWSL season continues, a few top-performing clubs will have a chance to boost their standings this weekend.

First-place Kansas City will travel to Providence Park to take on fifth-place Portland, as the Current look to keep their unbeaten streak intact. And in New Jersey, third-place Washington will take on fourth-place Gotham FC, with both teams attempting to extend multi-game unbeaten streaks.

A six-point gap has opened between the fifth and sixth spot on the NWSL table — with just six points also separating the league's top five. Kansas City, Orlando, Washington, Gotham, and Portland have recently proven themselves to be a cut above the rest of the competition. With eight postseason spots up for grabs and half the season behind us, a pattern is forming that indicates the playoff race could come down to spots six through eight on the NWSL table.

Of those top five teams, only Orlando faces an opponent in the bottom half of the league this weekend: The Pride will take on 14th-place Utah, who nonetheless are coming off a win — just their second of the season — over Bay FC last weekend.

But despite Kansas City and Orlando having yet to lose a game, Gotham might be the squad coming into the weekend with the most momentum.

Clutch goals from Rose Lavelle and rookie Maycee Bell gave the Bats a 2-0 midweek win over San Diego on Wednesday, in a rematch of the 2024 Challenge Cup. Gotham's unbeaten streak dates all the way back to April, as rising availability and sharpened form have honed this year's superteam into a contender.

Bottom line? As the NWSL season passes the halfway mark, some matches might begin to feel more like playoff previews than mere regular season battles.

Chelsea Gray Returns From Injury in Aces Win Over Seattle

las vegas aces chelsea gray and kelsey plum celebrate a win over the seattle storm
Gray has been sidelined with a foot injury since the 2023 WNBA Finals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

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