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State champions lead JWS’ Volleyball All-American Second Team

Ursuline’s Brooke Bultema will play college volleyball at Kentucky next season. (Tony Tribble for The Enquirer / USA TODAY Sports)

With the high school volleyball season wrapped up, Just Women’s Sports has new honors to bestow upon the nation’s top high school student-athletes.

JWS is proud to announce its All-American girls volleyball teams, honoring 24 of the top high school players in the nation, including 10 seniors on the Second Team.

Learn more about these outstanding athletes below, including what college they plan to attend. Find our selections for the All-American First Team here and look out for our profile of the JWS Player of the Year next week.

Second Team

Eloise Brandewie, Bishop Hartley (Ohio), Sr. | MB

278 kills, 97 blocks, 66 digs, 22 aces

Ohio State

The Under Armour All-American led the Hawks on a program-record 14-match winning streak, averaging four kills per set at an incredibly efficient .554 hitting percentage.

Brooke Bultema, Ursuline Academy (Ohio), Sr. | MB

376 kills, 107 blocks, 33 aces

Kentucky

The 6-foot-3 force averaged more than four kills and one block per set, leading the Lions to a Division I state championship and a top-15 national ranking.

Saige Damrow, Howards Grove (Wis.), Sr. | Libero/OH

301 kills, 329 digs, 73 aces

Wisconsin

Standing at 5-foot-8, Damrow averaged 4.4 kills per set and 4.8 digs per set in leading Howards Grove to a state championship.

Charlie Fuerbringer, Mira Costa (Calif.), Jr. | S

119 kills, 284 digs, 72 blocks, 34 aces

Wisconsin

Fuerbringer quarterbacked a Mustangs offense that averaged 13 kills per set while ascending to a top-10 national ranking.

Nayeli Gonzalez, Cornerstone Christian (Texas), Sr. | OH/MH

573 kills, 117 blocks, 91 digs

Iowa State

The leader of the nation’s No. 2 team, Gonzalez averaged more than four kills per set as the Warriors beat California powers Marymount and Mira Costa.

Ashley Mullen, Liberty (Mo.), Sr. | S

1,124 assists, 202 digs, 71 kills, 65 aces, 37 blocks

UCLA

The Under Armour All-American averaged more than 10 assists per set, leading the Blue Jays to a 35-win season and surpassing 3,000 career assists.

Skyler Pierce, Olathe Northwest (Kan.), Jr. | OH

488 kills, 248 digs, 44 blocks, 44 aces

Nebraska

One of the top junior recruits in the country, Pierce has already surpassed 1,000 career kills and still has one high school season remaining.

Jurnee Robinson, Mauldin (S.C.), Sr. | OH

538 kills, 324 digs 51 aces, 51 blocks

LSU

Robinson, an Under Armour All-American, averaged over five kills per set on a .446 hitting percentage and chipped in defensively with more than three digs pet set to lead Mauldin to a state title.

Ava Sarafa, Bloomfield Hills Marian (Mich.), Sr. | S

1,359 assists, 291 digs 98 kills, 54 blocks, 47 aces

Kentucky

One of the nation’s assist leaders, Sarafa quarterbacked a dominant offense that propelled the Mustangs to a third consecutive Division I state title.

Kyndal Stowers, Guyer (Texas), Sr. | OH

274 kills, 170 digs, 35 blocks, 19 aces

Baylor

Stowers averaged 5.5 kills per set on a .348 hitting percentage, leading Guyer to the state quarterfinals.

Sydney Schnichels, Willmar (Minn.), Sr. | OH

490 kills, 232 digs, 51 aces, 28 blocks

Minnesota

Schnichels was named Minnesota’s Ms. Baden Volleyball after a stellar five-year career, finishing with 1,324 kills, 697 digs and 170 blocks.

Ella Swindle, Rock Bridge (Mo.), Sr. | S

841 assists, 230 digs, 171 kills, 81 blocks, 41 aces

Texas

Another Under Armour All-American, Swindle averaged nearly nine assists this season and finished her high school career with more than 3,000 assists.

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.

Caitlin Clark dunks on Michael Che in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports.

It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation. Clark finished her segment by shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing Che a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her last playful dig of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns, in uncharted territory, start NWSL season winless

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the NWSL season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage over the weekend to remain winless through their first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before.

Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 

She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, attention turns to head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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