TUCSON, Ariz. - The Tucson Convention Center was home to the annual Cactus Classic Volleyball Invitational over MLK Weekend, hosting over 20 courts of volleyball action under two roofs at the TCC and Sporting Chance Center. The annual event is hosted by the Club Cactus Juniors Volleyball Club making it Arizona’s only convention center tournament run completely by an Arizona club.
The Cactus Classic is a part of the 2023 JVA Challenge Series, uniting some of the Nation's top club together in high quality events. Teams from Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, along with Canada and Hermosillo Mexico all competed in the three-day event that finished Monday with divisions named after popular cactus found in Southern Arizona. The Gold Division is fittingly named the Saguaro Cactus Division, followed by the Golden Barrel Cactus Division, the Cholla Cactus, Ocotillo Division, and so forth. Team trophies were awarded in all divisions giving all teams a chance to play for some hardware in the early-season invitational.
The 18U Saguaro Division featured an all-Mexico final, as SAVAMX 18-1 (MX) defeated FIEL U18 (MX) to win the 18-and-under division for the first time. AZ EPIC 17-Mizuno Lisa (AZ) defeated host Club Cactus 18-Silver (AZ) to claim third place overall.
In the 17U Saguaro Division, Ichban (NM) avenged an earlier loss to host Club Cactus 17-Mizuno (AZ) by winning the final in straight sets. The two teams played each other in the seeding rounds, where Club Cactus won in three sets. feated FIEL U18 (MX) to win the 18-and-under division for the first time. AZ EPIC 17-Mizuno Lisa (AZ) defeated host Club Cactus 18-Silver (AZ) to claim third place overall.
The 16 Saguaro Division final featured another all-Arizona match with AZ EPIC 16-Mizuno Jamey (AZ) defeating Club Cactus 16-Mizuno (AZ) for the championship. In the consolation match, RVC Impact 16 (SU) defeated BBCLV 16-Black (SC) from Nevada for the Saguaro Division third place trophy.
The 15 Saguaro Division final had the Arizona and Sun Country Regions battling on Court 1. RVC Xplosion (SU) defeated Club Cactus 15-Mizuno (AZ) and completed the tournament without dropping a set all weekend. AZ Kings 15-National (AZ) beat Matrix 15-Beast (AZ) for third place.
The 14 Saguaro Division was held on Court 1 Monday afternoon. TX STORM 14-Smack (SU) defeated Blaze Ignite (AZ) in the Championship. Prior to the finals, many witnessed what could have been the championship match TX STORM held off Arizona’s EVA 14’s UA (AZ) 23-25, 25-21, 16-14 after dropping their only set all tournament. In the consolation match, FIEL (MX) from Hermosillo defeated SAVA 14-Black for the Saguaro Division’s third place.
In the 13-and-under division, an “International Final” featured AZ EPIC 13-Mizuno Mike (AZ) defeating u13 Club Cougar (MX) to take home the trophy. In 12-and-under division, Wolf Pack 12 N1 (SU) defeated AZ EPIC 12-Mizuno Troy (AZ).
“The goal of this event is to create a unique and competitive environment for Arizona volleyball teams,” according to Tournament Organizers. “This is an opportunity for local volleyball teams to play in an event that looks and feels like a JNQ against teams from out-of-state without having to travel very far. It is a premiere event for the younger players and it really helps promote our sport and the Arizona Region.”
With over 500 competitive matches under one roof, live results, personalized player gifts, a Saturday night coaches’ mixer, and two feature courts with stadium seating, it easy to see why this year’s event impressed all players and parents and has become a popular tournament for teams from Arizona and bordering states.
“Unsurpassed in their efforts to provide a quality experience,” commented AZ Epic Volleyball Club coach Troy Sherman. “I’d like to other coaches and club directors to come and join us at this event in the future”
The annual event generates an estimated economic impact of $1.8 million dollars in downtown Tucson and is sponsored in part by Mizuno USA and Tucson Sports – a division of the Metropolitan Tucson Visitor’s Bureau.
Looking forward to next year, CCJ has announced that the 2020 Cactus Classic Invitational may have a new look next season as the event is in working on plans to expand into the TCC arena – home of the 2008 and 2011 USAV High Performance Championships.
For more information and to keep updated on the tournament, please visit the Cactus Classic Invitational website at http://www.clubcactusvolleyball.com/cactus-classic-invitational.