Local athletes stand out in Buenos Aires

Ella Sharoni, Katie Stone win volleyball MVP honors at Maccabi Pan American Games

By Michael Sudhalter

Two volleyball players from the Dallas area won Most Valuable Player honors earlier this month at the Maccabi Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Katie Stone of Dallas (Open Women’s Soccer Division) and Ella Sharoni of Plano (U16 Girls’ Soccer Division) led the way in their respective divisions.

Stone and her twin sister, Lexie, are freshmen on the volleyball and lacrosse teams at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. Both graduated from The Greenhill School last spring.

“Being named the Mejor Deportista (Spanish for MVP) was special, but (it was) honestly a team effort because we were excited to play for each other,” Katie Stone said. “The American delegation was hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Argentina (and Dallas native) Marc Stanley. (The Stanleys) were awesome hosts and it was very cool to see them as world Jewish leaders being from our own Dallas Jewish community.”

The Open Women’s Soccer Division won the Silver Medal, losing to a “guest team” made up of a local team from Argentina. Earlier in the tournament, the US Team earned victories over Mexico twice and Argentina.

Katie said this edition of the Pan American Games transcended sports for many reasons, but primarily Jewish solidarity with Israel.

“The opening ceremonies (were) an amazing experience and I felt a strong connection to the Jewish community as that ceremony was (one of) the largest gathering of Jews (outside of Israel) since the Oct. 7 attacks,” Katie said. “The Mexican team included a few Israelis and they wore a shirt with a picture of their friend who is held captive by Hamas currently and her father, who was killed. They said they were playing in honor (of their friend’s father).”

Sharoni, a sophomore at Vines High School in Plano, played Junior Varsity for the Plano High volleyball team last fall. She led the U16 Girls’ Volleyball team to a Gold Medal with a 3-0 sweep of Mexico. They previously defeated Mexico in the round robin portion, along with Argentina and the “guest” team.

“It was a really good experience to meet Jewish people from all over the world,” Sharoni said. “I was the only girl from Texas on the team. I was excited and surprised that I won MVP, because there were a lot of good athletes on the team. I’d never won an MVP award before.”

Sharoni played outside hitter/back row for Plano, but she moved to middle blocker in the Pan American Games.

“I am hoping to compete in the Maccabi Games in Israel in 2025,” Sharoni said.

Sadie Werner, a freshman soccer player at Greenhill, played on the U16 Girls’ Soccer team that won the Gold Medal. They defeated Brazil, 4-0, in the championship game. Earlier in the tournament, they earned a 6-0 and 2-0 wins over Brazil and 5-0 and 8-0 victories over host Argentina, outscoring their opponents 25-0 in the tournament.

Zander Kennedy (Greenhill), Matan Tsaroya (Akiba Yavneh) and Eli Krengel (Plano West) were part of the U18 Boys’ Soccer team that won the Silver Medal, losing to host Argentina, 2-0 in the Championship Match.

The team defeated Australia, 1-0 and split with Mexico (a 1-0 win and a 1-0 loss) earlier in the tournament.

“The camaraderie was great,” said Krengel, a senior who plans to attend the University of Central Florida in the fall. “I met people my age who I’ll probably talk to for the rest of my life. It was pretty competitive. I wish we had a little more time to practice; we only had one practice.”

Lily Yalovsky, a junior at Akiba Yavneh, was part of a U18 Girls’ Basketball team that played up a division, into the Open Women’s Division. They won a Bronze Medal with an 80-35 win over Australia. They lost to the USA Open Team, 61-37, in the semifinals. Earlier in the tournament, they defeated Australia 49-36 and lost to the USA Open Team, 67-50.

“It was a wonderful experience meeting and playing with skilled Jewish girls from all over the country,” Yalovsky said. “Our focus was certainly basketball, but the highlight was bonding with the team. We did this on the court and off the court, too — touring, going for dinners and enjoying the summer (season) weather in Buenos Aires.”

Todd Dreyer was a goalkeeper on the Masters Men’s Soccer 55+ team. They won the Bronze Medal with a 3-1 victory over Great Britain. Earlier in the tournament, the team lost to Great Britain, 3-2. They recorded shutouts against eventual Silver Medalist Brazil (3-0) and Australia (4-0), respectively.

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