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Choosing the Right Path: Deciphering Between AAU and USAV Nationals



National tournaments stand as the ultimate test for volleyball athletes and teams, representing the apex of competitive play. Among these prestigious events, the AAU Nationals and the USAV Nationals reign supreme, commanding the attention of the volleyball community. Although both tournaments provide esteemed opportunities for athletes to exhibit their skills for glory, distinct disparities exist between them, shaping the experiences of participants in unique ways.


The Differences


  1. AAU Nationals: A Platform for Multi-Sport Athletes The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Nationals is a multi-sport event that hosts volleyball tournaments among various other sports. Unlike USAV Nationals, which focuses solely on volleyball, AAU Nationals provides an opportunity for athletes who participate in multiple sports to compete on a national stage. This diversity in sports disciplines can lead to a unique atmosphere at AAU Nationals, where athletes from different backgrounds come together to showcase their skills.

  2. USAV Nationals: The Premier Volleyball Event On the other hand, USA Volleyball (USAV) Nationals is exclusively dedicated to volleyball and is widely regarded as the premier volleyball event in the United States. With a sole focus on volleyball, USAV Nationals attracts top-tier talent from across the country, offering a high level of competition and exposure for aspiring athletes. The tournament serves as a culmination of the USAV club season, where teams strive for national titles and recognition.

  3. Competition Format and Structure: In terms of competition format and structure, both AAU Nationals and USAV Nationals feature pool play followed by bracket play. However, there may be differences in rules, regulations, and age divisions between the two tournaments. Athletes and teams participating, in either event, must familiarize themselves with the specific guidelines set forth by the respective organizations to ensure compliance and fair play.

  4. Pathways to Nationals: Another key distinction lies in the pathways to qualifying for each tournament. USAV Nationals require teams to qualify through regional and/or qualifying tournaments to play in certain divisions. While in AAU Nationals teams will pay to play in the divisions of their choosing.



AAU Nationals and USAV Nationals represent two prominent avenues for volleyball athletes to compete at the national level. Whether competing in AAU Nationals or USAV Nationals, athletes have the opportunity to showcase their talent, compete against top competition, and make lasting memories on the national stage. Ultimately, the choice between the two tournaments depends on individual preferences, club affiliations, and competitive goals.


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