2017 Reflection and 2018 Goals of the Spikeball™ Elite


The Premier and Women's Division pose for a photo at 2017 Nationals.

With 2017 officially behind us, we thought it would be a good time to ask for the Spikeball™ Elite players to take a look back at the past year and ahead to 2018. Check out what these players had to say about the 2017 season and their road ahead. 

What was your favorite roundnet moment of 2017?

Tyler Cisek (Cisek/Showalter): My favorite roundnet moment of 2017 was when I went to East Regionals and got to watch all of the great teams play some incredible games.

Peter Jon Showalter (Cisek/Showalter): Watching (Cisek) slip and fall in a mud puddle while trying to dance at Baltimore tour stop and/or winning Nationals.

Jarratt Rouse (Strange Embrace): My favorite roundnet moment was playing on the Cliffs of Moher with Devin Matson, Buddy Hammon, and Matt Bohnen while visiting Ireland. The fact we were playing on the edge of the cliffs was exhilarating. Don't worry, we were playing smart!

Devin Matson (Strange Embrace): Playing roundnet throughout Europe.

Chris Hornacek (Origin Impact): Cisek/Showalter winning Nationals. Couldn't be more well-deserved.

Patrick Drucker (Origin Impact): Caleb Heck’s series-winning play during the Cream of the Crop finals against (Cisek)/(Fitzgerald). (Heck) got an insane body-up, I laid out and set him far off the net, he laid out, got it on the net, and the ball just barely cleared the rim. It was such an awesome way to end the day. 

Preston Bies (2 Guys): Playing in San Francisco with a solid crowd who would ooh and ah after every single touch. Just a good fun environment.

Troy Mauk (2 Guys): Hearing my old team[mate] (Harding Brumby) yelling and then seeing a hat fly in the air.

Ryan Fitzgerald (Anchored LI): My favorite moment was getting a hand block to win the Boston Grand Slam. 

Anthony Alvino (Anchored LI): Favorite moment was winning the bounty game v. Cisek/Showalter [at the Boston Grand Slam].

Anthony Rentsch (Spicy Rubi): So this moment wasn’t even from a game really but from after 2017 Nationals. Daniel McPartland and I had a 6 a.m. flight out of Chicago, so between the tournament, the after-party at Spikeball™ HQ, and going to our Airbnb to shower, we didn’t sleep at all and were somewhere between exhausted and excited. And I remember really clearly being at our terminal at like 5 a.m. with our second place trophies on the seats next to us - some woman sitting near us kept asking Daniel about them I think - and laughing about not being able to carry them on, so we stuffed them in Daniel’s suitcase hoping they wouldn’t break on the flight.

Daniel McPartland (Spicy Rubi): Winning College Nationals.

Travis Core (Easily Dug): My favorite moment would have to either be winning Southeast Regionals or securing Spikeball™ Elite by beating Impact in the round of 16 at Nationals.

Andrew Card (Easily Dug): My favorite roundnet moment was definitely the final ace against Origin Impact in game 3 at Nationals. Travis gave me the go-ahead to swing for an ace, which is something we don’t normally do, so I swung a little harder than normal and it worked. Most importantly that ace sealed our place in Spikeball™ Elite which was our goal for Nationals. 
 

Harding Brumby (Golden Set): Probably when Spicy Rubi took game 1 of the National finals. I loved the energy of the crowd as hope for a monumental upset materialized.

Eric Zishka (Golden Set): Favorite moment was when Nationals came together despite all the issues.

Becca Graham (Ogres Heroes): Taking the #1 seed in the Advanced Division at SummerSpike. My favorite less-roundnet moment was playing two full days of beach volleyball with some of the best roundnet players.

Alli Kauffman (Ogres Heroes): Earning the #1 seed at SummerSpike after Witmer and I chose to play in the Advanced Division instead of the Women's Division.

Ashley Gingerich (Cougs): Favorite moment was placing second at Nationals.

Julie Haselton (MØXIE): Getting the update that Nationals was on.

Sam Calisto (Whipper Snappers):  Favorite roundnet moment would be watching the men’s teams battle it out in the semifinals at West Regionals.

Buddy Hammon, Jarratt Rouse, Matt Bohnen, and Devin Matson pose for a picture after playing on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. 

What was your overall favorite tournament in 2017?

Tyler Cisek (Cisek/Showalter): My overall favorite tournament was definitely Nationals because I was able to win it! 

Peter Jon Showalter (Cisek/Showalter): Nationals.

Jarratt Rouse (Strange Embrace): My favorite tournament in 2017 was [SummerSpike at] Coney Island. The Europe crew, mentioned above, arrived the night before coming straight from our two-week excursion across the pond. We knew it would be hard especially after eating and drinking whatever we wanted and not really working out other than walking. We placed second and ended our trip surrounded by the best community we know and not to mention some fun after-party shenanigans as well.

Devin Matson (Strange Embrace): Santa Monica Grand Slam.

Chris Hornacek (Origin Impact): Baltimore Tour Stop.

Patrick Drucker (Origin Impact): The San Francisco Tour Stop. This was the first tournament, I believe, where we saw significant improvement in our overall composition. We may not have been well-prepared for Cisek/Showalter quite yet, but we were able to compete with some other top teams. 

Preston Bies (2 Guys): Idk... I love them all.

Troy Mauk (2 Guys): The one that we came in second or third maybe.

Ryan Fitzgerald (Anchored LI): Camp Birch Hill.

Anthony Alvino (Anchored LI): Boston Grand Slam.

Anthony Rentsch (Spicy Rubi): Nationals, hands down. I mean Spicy Rubi did really well, which was fun, but it was also fun to be a part of an event in which there were almost no expectations going in due to the change of venue and our relative newness as a team. We also received a lot of support from people we didn’t know too well, including Zach Wood from Point Loma, and that was a really cool experience.

Daniel McPartland (Spicy Rubi): 2017 Nationals.

Travis Core (Easily Dug): College Nationals was probably my favorite. It was such a cool environment and it was awesome to see so many different teams pulling for each other late in the tournament. 

Andrew Card (Easily Dug): My favorite overall tournament was College Nationals. At that point I knew how good (Core) was but no one else did other than our University of Tennessee Chattanooga guys so I was excited to see what he could do in a highly competitive tournament. We got ourselves a good win against Tyler and Cam [Cisek] which put us on the map and then had a very fun match against Mike [White] and Dan [McPartland] who ended up winning.

Travis Core spikes a ball during the 2017 College Nationals finals.

Harding Brumby (Golden Set): Results-wise, the Chicago Grand Slam when (Zishka) and I won four consecutive three-game matches to reach the finals. Experience-wise, either or both Montreal tournaments as I had great interactions with fellow competitors despite my American “bad guy” status!

Eric Zishka (Golden Set): Chicago Grand Slam.

Becca Graham (Ogres Heroes): Santa Monica Grand Slam.

Alli Kauffman (Ogres Heroes): Santa Spikes V.

Michaela Hershberger (Cougs): Nationals.

Julie Haselton (MØXIE): Have an awful memory but I think I could say that the St. Louis Tour Stop. It was the first time officially playing with Jenna [Coleman] and, of course, the after-tournament shenanigans were awesome.

What was your favorite match (that you played in) in 2017?

Tyler Cisek (Cisek/Showalter): My favorite match that I played in was finals in San Francisco against Strange Embrace because it was the perfect start of a season to remember for me. 

Peter Jon Showalter (Cisek/Showalter): Chicago Grand Slam finals.

Jarratt Rouse (Strange Embrace): My favorite match of 2017 was most likely playing Bud n' Boles in the round of 16 at the National Championships. No one really gave us a chance, especially since I had partially torn my rotator cuff the weekend before and they just beat us at the Santa Monica regional. We battled and played consistently and the win felt so nice.

Devin Matson (Strange Embrace): Taking down Bud n' Boles at Nationals.

Chris Hornacek (Origin Impact): Baltimore finals v. Cisek/Showalter.

Patrick Drucker (Origin Impact): The Baltimore Tour Stop finals against Cisek/Showalter. First grass tournament of the year, it was back and forth throughout the entire series, there were a lot of fun rallies, and it could’ve gone either way. Even though we got second place, it was hard fought and I was satisfied with how we matched up with C/S. 

Preston Bies (2 Guys): Anchored LI at Nationals this year. It’s always a good time playing those guys - good, honest, hard-working dudes.

Troy Mauk (2 Guys): Anchored LI at Nationals.

Ryan Fitzgerald (Anchored LI): My favorite match was the back-to-back grand finals against Spicy Rubi at East Regionals. 

Anthony Alvino (Anchored LI): Spicy Rubi at East Regionals (all 5 games we played in a row).

Anthony Rentsch (Spicy Rubi): Earlier in the season, Alex Harris and I (Spicy Dirt) beat Brandon Spector and Nick Abramson (Shmanuevments) in the round of 16 at the Boston Grand Slam. It went to three games and each game went to extra points - we ended up playing roughly the equivalent of five games. And they were super competitive and a lot of people gathered around toward the end so it was a fun atmosphere.

Daniel McPartland (Spicy Rubi): National finals against C/S.

Travis Core (Easily Dug): Forced Friends at College Nationals. So many good rallies.

Andrew Card (Easily Dug):  My favorite match was probably the championship match at College Nationals. Even though we lost there were a lot of great rallies and the environment was really cool as well. College tournaments have turned into my favorite because fans/players are actually cheering for their college and it adds another element to the game. 

Harding Brumby (Golden Set): Chicago quarterfinals against Anchored LI. We shook off a lopsided game 1 loss, kept our heads during some wild game 3 momentum swings and used a huge block and subsequent ace from Eric to knock out the hottest team in the nation.

Eric Zishka (Golden Set): My favorite match was Golden Set v. Skyler [Boles] and Ian [Golembeski] at the Charlotte Tour Stop because I always have a thing for beating Ian.

Becca Graham (Ogres Heroes): Baltimore Tour Stop Finals v. Veinte Hamburguesas or Santa Spikes (played with Ezra [Dantowitz]) vs. Alli and George [Rizk].

Veinte hamburguesas and Ogres Heroes play during a muddy Baltimore Tour Stop finals.

Alli Kauffman (Ogres Heroes): Ogres Heroes v. Whipper Snappers (pool play and bracket) at 2017 Nationals.

Ashley Gingerich (Cougs): My favorite match was playing veinte hamburguesas in the round of 8 at Nationals.

Michaela Hershberger (Cougs): Semifinals against MØXIE at Nationals.

Julie Haselton (MØXIE): The first series of finals in Santa Monica when (Coleman) and I beat Ogres Heroes.

Sam Calisto (Whipper Snappers): Favorite match for my team was when we played MØXIE in West Regionals. The matches were super close and competitive.

What are you roundnet goals for 2018?

Tyler Cisek (Cisek/Showalter): Oh jeez my goals for 2018 are typical Tyler goals. I want to win everything and I mean EVERYTHING! Whether that be playing with PJ, playing coed, or with a random partner. I just don't want to lose, but also have a ton of fun! 

Peter Jon Showalter (Cisek/Showalter): Meet more of the community, lose fewer matches, and win Nationals.

Jarratt Rouse (Strange Embrace): The only roundnet goals I have for the 2018 season are to have a serve percentage of 75 percent and have more fun!

Chris Hornacek (Origin Impact): Be on the podium.

Patrick Drucker (Origin Impact): Long-term goal: better performance at Nationals. Short-term goal: improving inverts/backhands and shot selection.

Preston Bies (2 Guys): Have fun!

Preston Bies having fun at a tournament in November of 2017.

Troy Mauk (2 Guys): Stay retired/have fun. 

Ryan Fitzgerald (Anchored LI): My goals are unsure due to how many tournaments I can play. Overall my goals are to get top 3 at East Regionals and secure Spikeball™ Elite status again.

Anthony Alvino (Anchored LI): Roundnet goal is to be a top 3 team in the country and make it to finals and hopefully win Nationals.

Anthony Rentsch (Spicy Rubi): Play and win as much as possible while keeping a brand for Spicy Rubi, much like Chico or Origin Vengeance or C/S have had brands in seasons past.

Daniel McPartland (Spicy Rubi): Win a national championship.

Travis Core (Easily Dug): Win College Nationals individually and as a college. Oh and then win SRA Nationals. 

Andrew Card (Easily Dug): My eyes are solely focused on winning College Nationals. I feel like (Core) and I accomplished a lot of our goals in 2017 with winning regionals and getting Elite, but one we didn’t achieve was winning College Nationals. So right now that is my sole focus and is what is motivating me in the off-season. 

Harding Brumby (Golden Set): Have fun, contend at every tourney I play, and improve upon a bitterly disappointing Nationals track record (T17, T5, T17, T17).

Becca Graham (Ogres Heroes): Beat all the boys.

Alli Kauffman (Ogres Heroes): Never lose a women's tournament, beat a power ranked men's team, play a tournament with Ashley Gingerich.

Ashley Gingerich (Cougs): Travel travel travel. Invest in the sport and just improve a lot.

Michaela Hershberger (Cougs): Attend as many tournaments as possible, feel like I have improved my game since last year, and have a whole lot of fun!

Julie Haselton (MØXIE): Consistency and confidence in all my serves.

Sam Calisto (Whipper Snappers): My roundnet goals for 2018 are minimal since I’m having a baby.

What skill do you want to improve most in 2018?

Tyler Cisek (Cisek/Showalter): I want to improve on defense most in 2018. I was criticized for not playing much defense last year so it is time to show people I am still the same player that played defense for The Rookies! 

Peter Jon Showalter (Cisek/Showalter): Kick finishes.

Jarratt Rouse (Strange Embrace): The skill I would like to improve most is killing around the net. I have a strangely high kill percentage because of my placement but my hits don't always look pretty. So I want to improve the consistency of my low hard hits.

Chris Hornacek (Origin Impact): New serves.

Patrick Drucker (Origin Impact): Defensive reactions and overall quickness in general. 

Preston Bies (2 Guys): Everything can always be better.. but I think my serve could use some improvement.

Troy Mauk (2 Guys): I don't think its possible to be better than I am so probably won't work on anything.

Ryan Fitzgerald (Anchored LI): I want to improve my serve and lefty spike.

Anthony Alvino (Anchored LI): Serve consistency.

Anthony Alvino winds up to serve at the Philadelphia Tour Stop.

Anthony Rentsch (Spicy Rubi): Serving, definitely. I want to develop a serve that cuts like Daniel McPartland's and Tyler Cisek’s.

Daniel McPartland (Spicy Rubi): Better control when setting.

Travis Core (Easily Dug): Probably serve returning.

Andrew Card (Easily Dug): The skill that I am working to improve the most right now is my serve, right now I feel like it is the weakest part of my game but luckily my partner is one of the best servers in the game so I can learn a lot from him. Another skill I want to begin working on more with the new rule change is body defense. Now with double touches on the first defensive touch being allowed, I think every team should take advantage by working on up-close defense.

Harding Brumby (Golden Set): My serve. It plays a huge factor in roundnet success, and it's a skill that I can hone on my own as well as in practice/game situations.

Eric Zishka (Golden Set): Get in sick shape instead of just good shape also improve my defense.

Becca Graham (Ogres Heroes): Defensive first touches.

Alli Kauffman (Ogres Heroes): Lefty backhand hit.

Ashley Gingerich (Cougs):  Defense. I want to get better at reading the set and work on positioning with my partner to get the most touches possible.

Michaela Hershberger (Cougs): I want to get better at having a variety of attacks.

Julie Haselton (MØXIE): Improved ability to place the ball.

Sam Calisto (Whipper Snappers): If I wanted to improve on a specific skill it would be a step out serve.

What's a tournament you are looking forward to in 2018?

Tyler Cisek (Cisek/Showalter): I am looking forward to Nationals 2018 for obvious reasons.

Peter Jon Showalter (Cisek/Showalter): 2018 Midwest Regionals.

Jarratt Rouse (Strange Embrace): I'm really looking forward to Huntington Beach as its a new venue and it will be my first official tournament with Preston Bies as Wabi Sabi.

Patrick Drucker (Origin Impact): Camp Birch Hill, since I wasn’t able to make it last year.

Preston Bies (2 Guys): Every tourney I go to I’m gonna look forward too more than the next. Spikeball™ is sweet.

Troy Mauk (2 Guys): Trying to go to a new tourney! 

Ryan Fitzgerald (Anchored LI): I am looking forward to Hawaii tournament on Friday, July 27!

Anthony Alvino (Anchored LI): Looking forward to any tournament I'll be able to make it to with this busy schedule in 2018.

Anthony Rentsch (Spicy Rubi): Probably College Nationals in the hopes that we will get a rematch with Easily Dug (who, by the way, should easily not be students - they are way older than McPartland and I).

Daniel McPartland (Spicy Rubi): College Nationals.

Travis Core (Easily Dug): None in particular, just looking forward to going to more in general! 

Andrew Card (Easily Dug): Once again, College Nationals is the tournament in 2018 I’m looking forward too. We have four months of preparation before and then it all comes down to two days, it’s going to be a blast. 

Harding Brumby (Golden Set): The Atlanta Tour Stop on April 7. It's in my home state and will likely be my first tournament back after several months deployed to the middle east. 

Eric Zishka (Golden Set): My first tournament back in the states!

Becca Graham (Ogres Heroes): Lancaster Tour Stop – the Spikeball™ community invades my hometown for a weekend.

Alli Kauffman (Ogres Heroes): Lancaster Tour Stop.

Throwback to a Lancaster Tour Stop hosted by Corey Heck in 2015.

Michaela Hershberger (Cougs): Seattle Tour Stop.

Julie Haselton (MØXIE): I'm looking forward to all the co-ed tourneys!

Sam Calisto (Whipper Snappers): I’m looking forward to watching all West Coast tournaments to see who is gonna be crowned best in the West.

Are there any techniques other players use that you want to emulate?

Tyler Cisek (Cisek/Showalter): My biggest role model in roundnet is Ryan Fitzgerald so I would want to emulate his setting and defensive abilities. He is an incredible player and an overall incredible person that I want to be more like as well.

Peter Jon Showalter (Cisek/Showalter): If I can emulate everything from the sparkling smile, to being married, to hitting every angle imaginable like Scott Wilson, than my 2018 will be a success in my books.

Jarratt Rouse (Strange Embrace): I can't be anyone else and I don't want to be but I will give a shout out to Preston Bies's hitting ability, Ryan Fitzgerald's long set ability, and Daniel McPartland's consistent and calm competitive demeanor.

Chris Hornacek (Origin Impact): Ryan Fitzgerald's defense.

Patrick Drucker (Origin Impact): Inverts/backhand hits.

Preston Bies (2 Guys): Jarratt Rouse's effort. He goes HAM and I need to match it.

Troy Mauk (2 Guys): I think everyone stole all my techniques last year. They definitely took my angle from my serve.

Ryan Fitzgerald (Anchored LI): I want to hit harder like almost everyone I play against.

Ryan Fitzgerald winding up to hit a ball (probably not very hard) against Bolivia at the Philadelphia Tour Stop.

Anthony Alvino (Anchored LI): Techniques I'd like to emulate are Ryan Fitzgerald's defensive awareness and Tyler Cisek's drive to win.

Anthony Rentsch (Spicy Rubi): If I could pretty much become Daniel McPartland, that would be cool. I think he has all the skills I want.

Daniel McPartland (Spicy Rubi): I would like to emulate other top players' defensive techniques.

Travis Core (Easily Dug): I would love to be able to back-hand like Tyler Cisek, that junk is a cheat code.

Andrew Card (Easily Dug): Since I need to work on my serve two players I want to emulate are Tyler Cisek and Daniel McPartland. They get an impressive angle on their forehands without stepping out much at all and that is something I would like to develop.

Eric Zishka (Golden Set): I want to emulate Andrew Card's silky sets as well as Tyler Cisek's skill on defense.

Becca Graham (Ogres Heroes): Yes. Many. Always trying to learn from the best.

Alli Kauffman (Ogres Heroes): Techniques I want to emulate: Becca Witmer's motivation, Tori Farlow's hustle, Corey Heck's focused/fun demeanor, Anthony Alvino's underrated precision, Peter Jon Showalter's humility, Jarratt Rouse's serve returns, and Ryan Fitzgerald's everything.

Michaela Hershberger (Cougs): I want some saucy serves like Peter Jon Showalter.

Julie Haselton (MØXIE): Yes.

Sam Calisto (Whipper Snappers): Would love to emulate Tori Farlow's fwango, Jordi Vigna’s backhand, Becca Witmer’s defensive positioning and Alli Kauffman’s finesse.

Got something related to roundnet that you want to know more about? Have any topics you want to be discussed on the podcast? Contact Mike White at mwhitey17@gmail.com or @mwhitey17 on Twitter.

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