From left to right, Strange Embrace (Devin Matson and Jarratt Rouse, second), Bud n' Boles (Buddy Hammon and Skyler Boles, first), and 2 Guys (Troy Mauk and Preston Bies, third) pose for a picture after West Regionals.
Don't have time to read the whole recap? Click here for a brief glimpse at the results.
Since the Spikeball® Roundnet Association began hosting regional tournaments in 2014, one team had claimed all three in its region. That was Chico Spikes, the former roundnet powerhouse of Shaun Boyer and Skyler Boles.
That pair split this year and Strange Embrace (Devin Matson and Jarratt Rouse) and 2 Guys (Troy Mauk and Preston Bies) moved into the top two spots in the West Region. Those two placed top three at 2016 Regionals, both knocked out by Chico.
After a few performances with other partners, Boles and Buddy Hammon (formerly of the top-level Chico Spikes' rival Handsome Beavers) decided to join forces for this post-season as Bud n' Boles. Many speculated how these two would do against the new top West teams, but now for the fourth year in a row, Boles has a West Regionals pitcher.
Heading into the day, the 2017 results painted a prediction of what we would likely see. Point Loma (Kenny Ortega and Zac Wood) was number three in the West and had failed to take down either Strange Embrace or 2 Guys in 2017. 2 Guys was number two in the West and had failed to defeat Strange Embrace this season. Strange Embrace was the number one team in the West and has not dropped a matched to a West team this season. The addition of Bud n' Boles into the mix was unknown.
Pool play in the Premier Division didn't go exactly as planned, especially for Strange Embrace who came out of it with a 3-4 record and a 15-9 loss to Bud n' Boles. Matson and Rouse had some inconsistency in their hitting and serving, but this team is also not known for their stellar pool play.
Hammon and Boles only fell once in pool play - a heated 21-20 capped loss to Point Loma. With Bud n' Boles beating 2 Guys and 2 Guys beating Point Loma, there was a three-way tie for the #1 seed and point differential was the decider.
Double B's (Bryce Johnson and Billy Buchhauser) went on to take the #4 seed with their 4-3 record while Strange Embrace took #5. Strange Embrace and 2 Guys would both rather match up with Point Loma than Bud n' Boles and were hoping the bracket would work their way.
The Premier Division seeds were as follows:
- Bud n' Boles
- 2 Guys
- Point Loma Spike
- Double B's
- Strange Embrace
- Valley 'Dogs
- Team Paul's Classy Vacuums
- NorCal Gravity
With that #5 seed, Strange Embrace would have to go through a gauntlet to reach grand finals. But the first round of the winner's bracket went as expected for all the top seeds; Bud n' Boles, 2 Guys, Point Loma, and Strange Embrace moved on in two games.
Victor Ho of Team Paul's Classy Vacuums winds up to hit a ball in Santa Monica.
As Strange Embrace and Bud n' Boles battled in the winner's semifinals, play returned to normal. There were not too many aces or errors - as all players are strong serve returners - but there were a ton of quick defensive touches, as these are some of the best defenders in the country.
The first game was close throughout until Hammon and Boles had some signature freak touches to earn late breaks. In game two, Bud n' Boles gained a bit more of a lead early and held it until late, taking the series in two games. Strange Embrace certainly did not execute poorly in the series and the difference was the defensive touches that Hammon and Boles were able to generate.
On the other side of the bracket, 2 Guys and Point Loma met for the third time this summer. Point Loma was extremely focused on Saturday and hungry for a win, but 2 Guys continued their undefeated streak against Wood and Ortega with a two-game win.
In the losers bracket, Valley 'Dogs (Alex Gong and Ridge Bertuccio) eliminated TPCV (Victor Ho and Zach Zimmerman) and Double B's did the same to NorCal Gravity (Tom Witt and Mike Eberhardt). Point Loma then came down and took out Double B's while Strange Embrace knocked out Valley 'Dogs.
At about the same time, Bud n' Boles and 2 Guys squared off in winner's bracket finals while Strange Embrace and Point Loma fought in the loser's semifinals. Like the past two times they met, Point Loma fell to Strange Embrace.
The winner's bracket finals was an entertaining affair, with more great hits, defense, and serves. Bud n' Boles found a lead in game one and held on for victory, but 2 Guys bounced back and dealt them their first loss in a bracket game. Game three was a close one but late in the game Bies took a risky two hit which did not quite work out. With their victory, Bud n' Boles beat the two best teams in the West and would wait in grand finals to play one again.
The atmosphere of the loser's finals between Strange Embrace and 2 Guys is not something you see at every tournament. Among the intense competition and strong play was a relaxed group of three players making jokes and having fun. Rouse was the exception, as he seemed more zoned in and stressed after some subpar serving in the past matches.
These teams have played many times before and, as such, serves become less effective. Errors and defensive chances play a bigger role in this match-up. After the teams split the first two games, game three went long into extra points. Eventually, Strange Embrace found their victory break on an ace from Matson serving to Bies. Bies contested the serve to observers but was unsuccessful and Strange Embrace moved onto rematch Bud n' Boles.
In the grand finals Bud n Boles came out strong (after their long break between the winner's finals and grand finals) and took game one. Rouse continued to be frustrated and failed to get many serves on. Despite this, Strange Embrace held a lead for most of game two before Hammon and Boles tied it up and sent the game into extra points.
At 34-33 Hammon aced Rouse who, like Bies did in the losers bracket finals, unsuccessfully challenged the ace to an observer. Bud n' Boles won the grand finals in two.
This win meant a lot to Boles and Hammon. Boles had 25 pitchers in total but none in 2017 and this is his first SRA event win this season. Hammon has been a top player for many years now and has been largely unable to win tournaments with Chico in the picture. This long-time top player deserved a win like this.
As far as takeaways from the Premier Division, the biggest takeaway is that Strange Embrace, 2 Guys, and Point Loma are still great teams - some of the best in the nation. We just found out that Bud n' Boles is also good (and maybe a threat to cisek_showalter next month). We'll just have to wait and see.
From left to right, TnT (Taylor Johnson and Tyler Strangman, third), Heckleberry Win (Caleb Heck and Corey Heck, first), and Sub-Par Team (Jacob Martinez and Josh Fragiacomo, second) pose for a picture after West Regionals.
The Advanced Division at West Regionals was a packed cast of teams looking for strong finishes. With many pools and strong teams in each, seeding was up in the air.
TnT (Taylor Johnson, formerly of Chico Phantoms, and Tyler Strangman) grabbed the 1 seed after racking up a huge point differential in the morning.
Based on bracket seedings, the projected top 8 was:
- TnT vs. 8. Vanilla Presence
- Heckleberry Win vs. 7. Cream Eaters
- Sets on the Beach vs. 6. G'Head
- MimoSUH vs. 5. Sub-Par Team.
This is not what the top 8 would be.
Our first upset was the smallest upset possible with the #33 SJ Invictus (Andrew Kosche and Jason Kim) defeating the #32 Sunny D's (Daniel Lindeen and David Roedema). There were a few more small upsets in the first round but the chaos really picked up in the round of 16.
The #19 seed Sour Patch Kids (Gabriel Stiansen and Harrison Martin) first took out the #14 seed Cleveland Steamers (Aaron Bluestone and Joseph Mouleart) before defeating the #3 seed Sets on the Beach (Matt Sparks and Truman Brown) to land in the top 8.
The #26 seed Interracial Lovin' (Dennis Phan and Matt Maddox) also took out the #7 seed Cream Eaters (Erick Schlick and Marlon Flemming), but then lost to the #10 team Respect your elders!! (Mark Donaldson and Mike Bird), pushing this Masters Division pair into their first top 8.
Finally, the #24 seed Loman Empire (Brody Yardumian and John Shurance) earned their way into top 8 with wins over the #9 and #8 seeds.
All other teams held their seeds, giving us this top 8:
1 TnT v. 24. Loman Empire
2 Heckleberry Win v. 10. Respect your elders!!
19 Sour Patch Kids v. 6. G'Head
4 MimoSUH v. 5. Sub-Par Team.
MimoSUH (Bryce Clifford and Cody Thompson) was handled by the hard serving of Sub-Par Team (Jacob Martinez and Josh Fragiacomo). The other three matches went the way of the higher seed and these winners were led by their experience, as all featured a veteran player.
The semifinals of Heckleberry Win (Caleb and Corey Heck) and G'Head (Ian Golembeski and Alex Lynn) was a peculiar matchup for West Regionals; the two Hecks and Golembeski all stem from the East. And Golembeski and Corey Heck actually placed top 8 at Nationals in Santa Monica in 2015.
This time the Heck brothers were able to take it. On the other side of the bracket, Sub-Par Team moved on over TnT. Sub-Par Team was an honorable mention on the latest Power Rankings as West committee members noted their strong play. They finally got to show it on Saturday.
Although the finals was a tight one, the Heck brothers edged out the team from California. After a couple failed attempts this season, this tournament was Caleb's last chance to qualify before Nationals and he was driven all day to attain that spot. And he did it.
From left to right, MØXIE (Julie Haselton and Jenna Coleman, second), Whipper Snappers (Sam Calisto and Jordi Vigna, first), and Sugar and Spice (Emmy Helly and Mara Hooker, third) pose for a picture after West Regionals.
The Women's Division featured some surprising results. The top 2 favorites in The Rally's Prediction Poll were MØXIE (Julie Haselton and Jenna Coleman) and The TWA Sisters (Molly McCauley and Kayla Swayze) for second, as those two teams featured long time and well-known female ballers.
Some people in the West noted that the third place favorite Whipper Snappers (Sam Calisto and Jordi Vigna) was better than predicted and expected them to take it all. Those people ended up being right.
As MØXIE and Whipper Snappers were in different pools, each team earned a top 2 seed going into bracket play. The TWA Sisters did not connect as expected and received the 6 seed after a few pool play losses. In the winner's bracket quarterfinals, though, McCauley and Swayze upset the #3 seed Sugar and Spice (Emmy Helly and Mara Hooker) of Utah.
Whipper Snappers then found two big wins over The TWA Sisters and MØXIE to move into the grand finals without a loss.
Sugar and Spice found a win over South AF (in the Spikeball® Roundnet Association listing, we only found Rachel Nugen's name as a player for this team) in the loser's bracket to force a rematch with The TWA Sisters. Sugar and Spice eliminated The TWA Sisters, delivering McCauley and Swayze a fourth place finish. MØXIE ended Sugar and Spice's run at third place, which is not too shabby for their first tournament.
In the grand finals the Whipper Snappers just outplayed MØXIE. Although this result was a surprise, it is not too hard to see coming as Calisto finished second at Nationals with Coleman last year and Vigna placed second at the Santa Cruz Summer Showdown with Preston Bies. The pair practice often with the Premier Division teams in Santa Barbara and may be a force to be reckoned with if they head to Nationals. MØXIE will have a chance for redemption at Midwest Regionals this weekend.
gReEd Is ThE rOoT oF aLL eViL (Garratt Flynn and Kyle Share) took first place in the Intermediate Division after defeating Saturdays are for the Boys (Robert Grant and Tyler Calamoneri) in the finals and BIG BALLER COUSINS (Derek Wong and Nathan Wakamoto) in the semifinals. BIG BALLER COUSINS then finished the day with a win over SpikeBros (Carlos Yvellez and Chris Luna) in the third place game.
- Bud n' Boles
- Strange Embrace
- 2 Guys
- Point Loma Spike
T-5. Double B's, Valley 'Dogs
T-7. NorCal Gravity, Team Paul's Classy Vacuums
- Heckleberry Win
- Sub-Par Team
T-5. MimoSUH, Respect your elders!!, Loman Empire, Sour Patch Kids
- gReEd Is ThE rOoT oF aLL eViL
- BIG BALLER COUSINS
- Saturdays are for the Boys
- Whipper Snappers
- Sugar and Spice
- The TWA Sistes
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or @mwhitey17 on Twitter.
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