Manhattan Beach CBVA Tourney – AAA Again!

Posted on July 15, 2012 · Posted in Beach Volleyball

It was a cool summer day at the legendary Manhattan Beach in California this Saturday. 30 teams signed up to play in the CBVA Men’s Open and Aaron Wexler and I teamed up with expectations to play well and have fun at the same time. We delivered on both counts and finished at a solid 3rd place!

Our first match in pool play proved to be an early challenge. We met a young team from Laguna Beach. The boys could hit the ball hard and had skills as well resulting in several long rallies. At the end we prevailed with 29:27. Then we had to play an even more physical team of Div 1 college players (UCLA and ?). Aaron and I found an even better rhythm and with some nice blocks and digs we closed the door at 21:16. I still don’t understand why the taller of the two kept yelling “over you” a couple minutes after being stuffed straight down more than once?!:)

Our next opponents were a craftier team with Chris – a shorter shot and tool wizard and Landen – an athletic young blocker from CA/UT. In this match Aaron and I decided to change our sideout strategy a bit. I usually play and prefer playing right side but Aaron preferred me on the left. I don’t mind it at all and this is how we played the first couple games. For this one though we decided to go Hawaiian style, with me siding out from the ocean side after each court switch (every 7 points). So I ended up playing right side half the time and left the other half. This strategy worked well. I saw a good amount of serves but Aaron’s solid setting helped me to side out consistently. This match however was point-for-point as our opponents were siding out every time as well. It went down to the wire and we pulled ahead at the end and won 21:19.

We had only one more match in pool play left and even before we started playing we knew that mathematically we will finish the pool in 1st place regardless of the outcome. Some teams int the same situation would choose to play light and maybe even lose to save energy for the playoffs. But not our team! We decided to play hard, build chemistry and have fun. This resulted in our best performance up to this point, outlasting the second seed in our pool, in a must-win situation for them, 21:11. Our point scoring worked well with Aaron digging and me blocking. We scored a couple points directly from the service line and we even split block, giving me an opportunity to play defense (needs work but there is hope:).

Since it is a one day tournament with so many teams, the format of the playoffs was one game to 28 points single elimination. This means that you cannot let down even for a minute and if you fall a few points behind, coming back is an uphill battle. There is no second and third set to get you to victory.

Our first game was against another young team – Dillon and Marty. High flyers with heavy arms, blasting jumpserves to add. We carried our momentum from the last pool game and we pressed them early. Our blocking and defence worked well and we jumped to an early big lead. For the remainder of the game we withstood the barage of serves, sided out well and closed it out with a few points to spare.

In the quarterfinals we met Reuben and Kenny. Familiar players with lots of experience and physical abilities. Reuben is a big lefty and Kenny apparently had a subscription to the back line as he sent every shot to which I decided not to block there. 100% accuracy and some speed. Reuben is always a threat blocking and Kenny pulled out a wicked float serve, which helped them to get the lead. Their highly efficient sideout game and aggressive serving and blocking found us in a hole at 18:22 in a game to 28. At this point we decided to make a couple crucial adjustments. Regardless of how far away from the net the ball was set to Kenny, I would stay and try to block him. All of a sudden the score was 22:23! The battle continued for each point with both teams making some spectacular plays. We were still down at the switch 24:25. We tied the game again at 26 all and closed it out 28:26!

We were in the semi’s and earned our AAA rating!

There we played the team of Curt Toppel and Jesse Rambis. Curt is a tower at the net and Jesse is as quick as a cat in the back court. I had a lot of energy left and ready to play, thanks to Kristen, who prepared all my food and drinks and made sure I didn’t skip an opportunity to snack all day. The game was point-for-point as we couldn’t find a way to stop Curt and we were siding out consistently. I got a lot of the serves but managed to hit, shoot or sneak them past Toppel and the game was tied at 14. At that point we started serving Jesse and managed to steal a couple points and the lead at 25:23. A long rally followed in which we had a chance to go up 26:23 at the switch but fell short.

The next point put a bit of a blemish on the game as the ref did not call an obvious double in defence after a soft shot by Aaron and we ended up losing the point. However we cannot blame the ref – it is a part of the game! We couldn’t side out the next 2 points and the game ended 28:26 for the “bad” guys:)

This gave us the 3rd place and both Aaron and I were happy with the way we played – we gave 100% and had a fun day with 6:1 record in a strong Open tournament!


P.S. On the following morning I practiced with Tomo san for 3 hours… I guess I’m getting in shape!