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No. 1 Cathedral Catholic volleyball continues perfect campaign

Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Ella Schomer celebrates a point during a match on Sept. 28 in Farmington Hills, Mich. (Brandon Folsom/ via USA TODAY NETWORK)

An undefeated season is quite the task, and Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) has taken it one step further. The Dons haven’t just lost a match this season; they haven’t dropped a set.

Cathedral Catholic has done so while winning the prestigious Durango Fall Classic, the Kamehameha Tournament and now the GEICO High School Volleyball Invitational this past weekend. To claim the title, Cathedral Catholic defeated Ponte Vedra, runner-up in Florida’s highest classification last season, and Nebraska powerhouse Papillion-LaVista South.

The Dons are led by Stanford commit Julia Blyashov, the No. 3 recruit in the nation, but talent is sprinkled across the roster with six more Division I commits — senior Noemie Glover (Oregon), senior outside hitters Cate Schell (Tennessee) and Milan Bayless (Colgate), senior middle blocker Ryleigh Patterson (Harvard), junior middle blocker Jenna Hanes (Michigan) and junior setter Amanda Saeger (DePaul).

A few more regular-season matches remain before the most important tournament begins, as Cathedral Catholic eyes a state title and tries to maintain its unblemished set record.

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

1. Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), 32-0

Coming off the GEICO title, the Dons won twice more Tuesday and Wednesday.

2. Bloomfield Hills Marian (Mich.), 28-0

The Mustangs have over a week off before they return to action at the Beast of the East tournament.

3. Cornerstone Christian (Texas), 54-2

The Warriors returned to the court with a three-set sweep Tuesday, pushing their winning streak to 18 matches. Two of those victories came against top-25 teams.

4. McCutcheon (Ind.), 29-1

After notching 28 kills over three matches to lead the Mavericks to a conference tournament title, senior Chloe Chicoine learned she was one of 27 players selected to compete at the Under Armour Next All-America game.

5. Mira Costa (Calif.), 32-3

Fresh off a second-place finish at the Tournament of Champions Southwest, the Mustangs went 6-0 at the Molten Power Classic, beating Redondo Union in the championship.

6. Westminster Christian (Fla.), 20-0

The Warriors may not play the type of national schedule that other top-10 teams face, but they defeated Cornerstone Christian and have dropped just three sets all season.

7. Prestonwood Christian (Texas), 31-1

Since a loss to Cornerstone Christian, Prestonwood has reeled off 19 victories in a row.

8. Washburn Rural (Kan.), 30-1

The Junior Blues just continue to win, claiming the Derby Tournament title with six wins Saturday before notching three more victories Tuesday to stretch their unbeaten streak to 29 matches.

9. Highland Park (Texas), 35-2

The Scots continue to roll in district play, and their winning streak has reached 13 matches.

10. Marymount (Calif.), 28-6

Torrey Stafford recorded 20 kills, Alexa Trapani had 26 digs and Lauren Brooker racked up 49 assists in the Sailors’ four-set league win over Alemany on Tuesday.

11. Fayetteville (Ark.), 30-2

The Bulldogs have three more regular-season matches remaining before their quest for a third consecutive state title begins in earnest.

12. Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.), 27-1

The Royals’ path to a Class 4A state title begins Thursday with a sectional matchup against 22-win Carmel, which eliminated Hamilton Southeastern last year.

13. Tompkins (Texas), 32-3

The Falcons’ winning streak has reached 12 matches with a handful of regular-season contests remaining.

14. Mother McAuley (Ill.), 26-2

The Mighty Macs flexed their muscles with a sweep of 24-win De La Salle on Tuesday, winning both sets without giving up more than 12 points.

15. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 29-4

After losing to Marymount last week, the Trailblazers ended the regular season on a high note with three consecutive wins.

16. Oconomowoc (Wis.), 33-1

Cordelia Kearns notched 18 kills, and Lilly Wagner added 37 assists in a four-set victory last week to conclude conference play. The Raccoons now wrap up regular-season play Thursday.

17. Cypress Ranch (Texas), 37-2

With two more victories, the Mustangs’ winning streak has reached 21 matches.

18. Assumption (Ky.), 28-6

Whitney Woodrow had 61 assists, Kristen Simon added 34 digs and Emma Barnett had a team-high 20 kills in the Rockets’ five-set victory over Mercy, last year’s state runner-up. Assumption followed that up with a win Tuesday on Senior Night.

19. Santa Fe (Fla.), 21-1

State champions last season, the Raiders’ winning streak is at 14 matches, and they’ve dropped just four sets all season.

20. St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.), 32-3

The Saints defeated four teams, including three with 20 or more wins, to claim a tournament title this past weekend.

21. ‘Iolani (Hawaii), 20-5

Maya Imoto-Eakin racked up 61 assists as the Raiders beat rival Punahou, avenging a loss from earlier this season.

22. Dike-New Hartford (Iowa), 39-2

The Wolverines wrap up the regular season Thursday and then turn their attention to the postseason.

23. Mater Dei (Calif.), 27-7

The Monarchs have depth across the board. They have two players with more than 200 kills, two players with more than 300 assists and two players with more than 200 digs.

24. Liberty (Mo.), 29-1

The Blue Jays’ sole blemish is a loss to St. Thomas Aquinas.

25. Yorktown (Ind.), 28-2

The future is bright for the Tigers, who are the only team to have beaten McCutcheon this season and have sophomores leading the team in kills (Charlotte Vinson, 363) and digs (Addi Applegate, 354).

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.

Alyssa Naeher’s goalkeeper jersey sells out in less than three hours

uwnt goalie alyssa naeher wears jersey on the field with club team chicago red stars
USWNT star keeper Alyssa Naeher's new replica NWSL jersey was an instant success. (Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in the NWSL's 12-year history, fans can now buy their own goalkeeper jerseys. And while replica goalkeeper jerseys representing all 14 NWSL teams hit the market on Wednesday, some didn't stick around for long. 

Fans across women's soccer have long vocalized their discontent over the position's lack of availability on social media, often comparing the shortcoming to the widespread availability of men’s goalkeeper jerseys. And as the NWSL has grown, so has demand — and not just from those in the stands. 

"To have goalkeeper kits available for fans in the women’s game as they have been for so long in the men’s game is not only a long-awaited move in the right direction, it’s just good business," said Washington Spirit goalie Aubrey Kingsbury in an team press release. "I can’t wait to see fans representing me, Barnie [Barnhart], and Lyza in the stands at Audi!"

Business does, in fact, appear to be booming. Alyssa Naeher’s Chicago Red Stars kit sold out less than three hours after the league's announcement. Jerseys for other keepers like DiDi Haračić, Abby Smith, Michelle Betos, Katelyn Rowland, and Bella Bixby aren’t currently available via the Official NWSL Shop, though blank goalkeeper jerseys can be customized through some individual team sites. Jerseys start at $110 each.

"This should be the benchmark," said Spirit Chief Operations Officer Theresa McDonnell. "The expectation is that all players’ jerseys are available to fans. Keepers are inspiring leaders and mentors with their own unique fan base who want to represent them... I can’t wait to see them all over the city."

Simone Biles talks Tokyo Olympics fallout in new interview

gymnast simone biles on a balance beam
Biles' candid interview shed light on the gymnast's internal struggle. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Decorated gymnast Simone Biles took to the popular Call Her Daddy podcast this week to open up about her experience at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, revealing she thought she was going to be "banned from America" for her performance.

After Biles botched her vault routine due to a bout of the "twisties," she withdrew from the team final as well as the all-around final in order to focus on her mental health. She later reentered the competition to win bronze in the individual balance beam final.

In her interview with podcast host Alex Cooper, Biles admitted to feeling like she let the entire country down by failing her vault attempt.

"As soon as I landed I was like 'Oh, America hates me. The world is going to hate me. I can only see what they’re saying on Twitter right now,'" she recalled thinking. "I was like, ‘Holy s---, what are they gonna say about me?'"

"I thought I was going to be banned from America," she continued. "That’s what they tell you: Don’t come back if not gold. Gold or bust. Don’t come back."

Widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles has hinted at a desire to join her third Olympic team in Paris, though her participation won't be confirmed until after the gymnastics trials in late June. She holds over 30 medals from the Olympic Games and World Artistic Gymnastics Championships combined, and if qualified, would be a sure favorite heading into this summer’s games.

Caitlin Clark reportedly nearing $20 million+ Nike deal

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait at Gainbridge Fieldhouse during her introductory press conference
WNBA-bound Caitlin Clark is said to be closing in on a monumental NIke deal. (Photo by Matt Kryger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark is reportedly close to cementing a hefty endorsement deal with Nike.

The Athletic was the first to break the news Wednesday evening, commenting that the deal would be worth "eight figures" and include her own signature shoe. On Thursday afternoon, the publication tweeted that the deal would top $20 million, according to lead NBA Insider Shams Charania. Both Under Armour and Adidas are said to have also made sizable offers to the college phenom and expected future WNBA star.

The new agreement comes after Clark's previous Nike partnership ended with the conclusion of the college basketball season. She was one of five NCAA athletes to sign an NIL deal with the brand back in October, 2022. 

Considering Clark's overwhelming popularity and Nike's deep pockets, the signing's purported value doesn't exactly come as a shock. New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu’s deal with the brand is reportedly worth $24 million, while NBA rookie and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama’s deal is rumored to weigh in at $100 million. And in 2003, LeBron James famously earned $90 million off his own Nike deal. 

Clark’s star power continues to skyrocket, with the NCAA championship averaging 18.9 million viewers and the 2024 WNBA Draft more than doubling its previous viewership record. Following the draft, Fanatics stated that Clark's Indiana Fever jersey — which sold out within an hour — was the top seller for any draft night pick in the company’s history, with droves of unlucky fans now being forced to wait until August to get their hands on some official No. 22 gear.

In Wednesday's Indiana Fever introductory press conference, the unfailingly cool, calm, and collected Clark said that turning pro hasn’t made a huge impact on how she’s conducting her deals.

"If I’m being completely honest, I feel like it doesn’t change a ton from how I lived my life over the course of the last year," she said. "Sponsorships stay the same. The people around me, agents and whatnot, have been able to help me and guide me through the course of the last year. I don’t know if I would be in this moment if it wasn’t for a lot of them."

Star slugger Jocelyn Alo joins Athletes Unlimited AUX league

softball star jocelyn alo rounds the bases at an oklahoma sooners game
Former Oklahoma star Jocelyn Alo has signed with Athletes Unlimited. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former Oklahoma slugger Jocelyn Alo has signed on with Athletes Unlimited and will compete in the AU Pro Softball AUX this June.

The NCAA record holder in career home runs (122), total bases (761), and slugging percentage (.987), Alo was originally drafted by the league in 2022 but opted instead to join the newly debuted Women’s Professional Fastpitch

Alo currently plays for independent pro softball team Oklahoma City Spark, with team owner Tina Floyd reportedly on board with her recent AUX signing. AUX games are scheduled for June 10-25, while the Spark's season will kick off June 19th. Alo will play for both. 

Among those joining Alo on the AUX roster are former James Madison ace pitcher Odicci Alexander and former Wichita State standout middle infielder Sydney McKinney.

According to Alo, the decision to play in the Athletes Unlimited league was fueled by her desire to propel women's sports forward as well as provide more exposure to a sport that's given her "so many opportunities."

"Not only to challenge myself more, but just for the growth of the game," Alo said, explaining her reasoning to The Oklahoman. "I genuinely believe that professional softball can be a career for girls."

Joining AUX is also one more step in her plan toward representing Team USA at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

"I’m constantly thinking about how can I do these little things right in these four years to prepare me for the biggest stage of softball," she told The Oklahoman. "I definitely want to play in the Olympics, for sure."

Alo further expressed enthusiasm in the hope that the rise of other women’s sports, like women’s basketball and the NWSL, will push softball’s professional viability even higher.

"We’re seeing the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) get their stuff going, I see the WNBA starting to get hot," she continued. "I feel like the softball community is like, 'All right, it’s our turn and it’s our turn to just demand more.'"

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