Tournament now features several NCAA Division I volleyball players as well as several other college players

When Rosie Honl first started the Rimrock Alumni Volleyball Tournament several years ago, she had no idea what the tournament would LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Keani Passi rips a kill past Alexis Urbach and Karlee Hollis of the Rimrock Nationals team. Passi and the rest of her team won the Rimrock Alumni Tournament on Sunday defeating Rimrock Nationals in the Championship.

Honl, the head volleyball coach at Crook County High School and the director of the Rimrock Volleyball Club, just wanted an opportunity for former players to get together and play a game during their winter break. Now the tournament has grown to 15 teams including more than two-dozen current and former college volleyball players.

“It’s my favorite day of the year,” Honl said Sunday following the tournament. “I get to see all my girls who are all grown up and are still athletic and can really play. The tournament was huge -- it’s getting better and better.”

As the tournament has grown, it has not only attracted five teams of Rimrock alumni and four teams of current Rimrock players, other high-caliber teams from Central Oregon are now entering the tournament.

This year’s tournament featured six current or former NCAA Division I volleyball players, including former Crook County All-American Makayla Lindburg, who is now a starter at the by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Makayla Lindburg hits a kill for the alumni team during the championship match.University of Portland.

Lindburg’s team was put together by current College of Southern Idaho libero Braiden Johnston. The team included former Crook County players Esmeralda Orozco and Kirsti Kelso along with two former Rimrock players from other Central Oregon schools and Keani Passi, an outside hitter at the University of Hawaii.

Passi, who did not play for Rimrock, so is not truly an alumni, became friends with Johnston while the two were both playing at College of Southern Idaho.

After dropping their first match of pool play to the current Rimrock Nationals team, Johnston’s alumni team steadily improved throughout the day. Eventually, the power of Passi and the finesse of Lindburg proved to be too much for the competition. The team didn’t lose another set the remainder of the day and eventually won a hard-fought rematch with Rimrock Nationals in the tournament championship. Alumni Braiden jumped on top early in the first set of the finals against the Rimrock Nationals team, which is coached by Joel Kent, and went on to win 15-12, 15-10 in the tournament championship.

Rimrock Nationals has current Crook County players Hannah Troutman, Karlee Hollis, and Abby Smith on its roster, as well as players from Madras, Sisters, Culver, and Bend.

“It’s fun to beat Joel,” Johnston said following the win.

“I used everything that Joel taught me to beat them,” Lindburg added.

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Hannah Troutman goes up for a kill during the Rimrock Nationals championship match with Alumni Braiden. Alumni Braiden won the match 15-12, 15-10.“Keani just dominated our match,” Troutman said. “She hit the ball so hard one time that I couldn’t even see it as it went by me.”

The Rimrock Nationals team went through pool play with a 7-1 record, dropping one set to Alumni Jess, a team composed primarily of past or current University of Eastern Oregon players.

Alumni Jess finished pool play with a 5-3 record while Alumni Braiden was 6-2 after pool play.

Alumni Jess fell to Rimrock Nationals in the tournament semifinals while Alumni Braiden defeated the Rimrock 18’s Red in the other tournament semifinals.

In the silver bracket, Oregon Volleyball Association’s 17s team defeated Central Oregon Community College in the championship match.

One other Rimrock team also had a noteworthy tournament. The Rimrock 16’s Black team finished pool play with an 8-0 record in the lower division of the tournament. For their effort, they were moved up to the upper bracket where they fell to the Rimrock Nationals team in the tournament quarterfinals.

Honl had so much fun at the tournament that as it ended, she was attempting to recruit alumni players to have one more match later this week before school starts again.

“Wasn’t that fun,” she gushed. “It’s such great volleyball and they all have such a good time.”

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