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MaxPreps host Myckena Guerrero breaks down this week's volleyball elite.
Sixty-four teams from a dozen states will compete this weekend in the Durango Fall Classic
, considered by many to be the most prestigious high school volleyball tournament in the country.
It's hard to argue with that "top tournament" claim for the Las Vegas event.
• Eleven teams ranked in MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings are playing in the Durango, including the top four teams in the nation. There's also seven teams in the top 12 headed for Vegas.
• A dozen teams in the field are reigning state champions.
• Fifteen teams enter unbeaten in 2018, while another 15 have lost just once this season.
Among the unbeaten are four-time tournament champion and 2018 Durango favorite
Assumption (Louisville, Ky.)
Yes, Assumption, ranked No. 2 in this week's Top 25, is favored. Not No. 1-ranked Walton (Marietta, Ga.)
, a Durango entry for the first time. Assumption has a 33-match win streak, is 17-0 this season and has already won three tournaments in 2018.
Though No. 1 Walton is unbeaten, the Raiders have not previously played the Durango. Assumption has won three of the last four Durango Classics, including last year when it defeated No. 3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
for the title.
Assumption has three 2017 Durango Classic all-tournament players returning, including tournament Most Valuable Player Anna DeBeer
(Louisville pledge). The others are 6-3 junior Rylee Rader
(Ohio State pledge) and 6-1 senior setter Camille Nazor
(Duke commit), both preseason All-Americans.
The Rockets, who have won 20 state volleyball titles, have a dozen players on their roster who have been recruited to play collegiately.
Walton and Mater Dei are expected to have a lot to say about who will be the last one standing. Walton's last loss (and only one of 2017) was to Mater Dei. Assumption lost to Walton a year ago. And Assumption beat Mater Dei.
Riding a 20-match winning streak, Walton is led by MaxPreps 2017 National Junior Player of the Year Gabby Gonzales
and fellow seniors Reilly MacNeill
, Riley Spurlin
, Jordan Rush
and Caroline Cheney
. MacNeill, Gonzales and Cheney have committed to Ohio State. Walton has 11 girls committed to play at the next level.
Unbeaten Mater Dei is led by a pair of 6-3 hitters in Natalie Berty
(Stanford commit) and Meg Brown
(Alabama commit) and setter Mia Tuaniga
(future Stanford Cardinal). It handed No. 6 Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, CA) its first loss last week, 3-1.
While the pre-tournament focus is on the top three, there are a dozen other teams that have yet to lose this season that will want to prove they deserve bigger headlines.
Among the unbeaten teams are Teurlings Catholic (Lafayette, La.)
, ranked No. 11 and riding a 66-match win streak and No. 4 ranked Kamehameha Kapalama (Honolulu)
has won 25 in a row, including 20 this season.
'Iolani and Teurlings Catholic are the only Top 25 teams paired in the same pool.
Sixty-four teams from New York to Hawaii will open play early Friday morning and by the time the final match is played Saturday night, only one team gets the gold.