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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.

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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