Munciana Volleyball Win AAU National Championship
Writer / Matt Keating
Brad Neale, a former parent representative for the Peppers, a Munciana Volleyball team, says the Munciana league has been invaluable for young volleyball players.
“Munciana Volleyball, one of the oldest and top volleyball clubs in the nation, was started in 1973 by Steve Shondell, with a single team with 12 players from Northside High School in Michigan,” Neale says. “They placed seventh at nationals at Oakland College in Michigan, and then their high school team proceeded to win back-to-back state championships for Northside in 1974 and 1975.”
Neale notes that Munciana thrives on training athletes from entry level to elite. The staff wants the players to compete at the highest level possible, whether that means working to make a seventh-grade volleyball team, winning a state championship, winning a national championship or aspiring to play in college.
“The 12 Open team from Munciana is named the Peppers,” Neale says. “Delaware County Hall of Fame Coach Steve Shondell started coaching the 12 Open team in 1999. He named them the Peppers after a most beloved family dog, and the name has now become a legacy.”
Westfield Middle School seventh-grade players from a recent Munciana Peppers championship team include Neale’s daughter, Brooke Neale, and her teammates Eva Clevenger and Eden Wise. They recently competed at the 49th Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Girls Junior National Volleyball Championship from June 14 to 26, at the Orange County Convention Center and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“After a four-day battle they went undefeated and won the 12 Open National Championship title,” Neale says.
Brooke Neale, a two-time Munciana Peppers co-captain, was named an all-American.
“This was the first time in history that the Peppers won the AAU National Championship,” Neale says. “There were 221 teams competing in the 12 & Under age group, of which 19 competed in the Open division. The Open division is considered the best of the best, with the highest level of competition.”
The breakdown of divisions for the 12 & Under age group is as follows – 12 Open, 12 Premier, 12 Club and 12 Classic.
Mallory Neale, Brooke’s older sister, a senior at Westfield High School, has also received recognition for her volleyball skills.
“She has committed to play volleyball at Charleston Southern University,” Neale says. “She has made the Indiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association 2022 Players 2 Watch List. She was also named 2022 Academic All-American at the 49th AAU Girls Junior National Volleyball Championship.”
The Peppers were led by Head Coach Kylie Johnson.
“It was her 11th year coaching at Munciana in the 12 & Under division, and her fourth year as the Peppers’ head coach,” Neale says. “Something she stresses to her players is accountability. She says, ‘Every position has a job description. You have to be accountable and responsible for each detail of your job.’”