By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Incoming Stanford freshman Rachel Williams has enjoyed a terrific summer of volleyball and after playing 72 matches with the Vision Gold 18-under club team, there's still more ahead for her.
Williams will be joining future Stanford teammates Sam Wopat and Carly Wopat on the United States women's junior national team that will compete in Tijuana, Mexico in a couple of weeks.
Williams helped lead the Vision Gold team to a bronze medal in the 18-under Open Division at the USAV girls' junior national championships Friday in Reno.
Gunn grad Teresa Skelly started nine of the 10 matches at middle blocker for Vision, while Williams earned a spot on the all-tournament team as an outside hitter.
"Rachel is extremely athletic," Vision Gold coach Jason Mansfield said. "She hits as hard, if not harder, than anyone in the country. She's a great athlete and extremely competitive."
Mansfield will get a chance to work with Williams for at least the next four years in his other job as Cardinal assistant coach to John Dunning.
Laguna Beach's Lydia Vai, also headed to Stanford, helped her team finish fourth in the Open Division. The Wopat twins played for Santa Barbara. Several others in the Final Four are headed to UCLA, USC, Hawaii and Washington among other schools. Skelly is headed to Harvard to attend school and play volleyball.
"She had her best tournament of the year," Mansfield said of Skelly. "She blocked extremely well. Harvard is getting one heck of a player."
Vision Gold (67-5 on the year) dropped a tough, 25-22, 25-19, decision in the semifinals to eventual champion Sports Shack Ascics. Vision Gold finished the year splitting four matches with Shack.
During the semifinal match, Vision Gold was up, 14-10, when setter Rachel Alvey was forced to leave the first set. She later returned for the second set.
"We were on a roll and I liked our chances at the time," Mansfield said. "This was a special group. Nine of the 12 players were with us since the age of 12. We won the silver medal in 2006 and this team is every bit as talented as that one."