The West Tour is more than half-way through and the Southeast Tour started up two weeks ago in Atlanta. It is time for the Midwest to join the action. Tomorrow, 73 teams will be heading to the Montrose Athletic Fields in Chicago, IL to compete in the first Midwest Tour Stop of 2018. Like at a couple other events this season, Sunday will feature a Coed Division, this time fielding 14 teams.
The Chicago Tour Stop has attracted a large group of top players. The Advanced Division contains 16 Premier teams, the most of any Tour Stop this year. These 16 is a motley crew. There are teams making their 2018 debut, competitive mash-up teams, and a few teams with 2018 experience.
Last weekend, the #6 power ranked Point Loma Spike (Kenny Ortega and Zach Wood) upset the #2 team Wabi Sabi to win the San Francisco Tour Stop. Switching out sand for grass, these two have an opportunity to make it two wins in a row. Both players emphasized how feeling fresh helped them last weekend, so let's hope they found some rest this week after their long tournament run last Saturday.
Although none of the top 5 teams will be therein full, there is a mash-up of two of them. Ryan Fitzgerald of the #3 Anchored LI and Dylan Fogarty of the #4 Origin Vengeance are teaming as Hoodiez. This will be the first Tour Stop of the year for Fitzgerald but Fogarty took second place at the Atlanta Tour Stop. Will these two be able to combine their skills and take out Point Loma Spike?
Ryan Fitzgerald of Hoodiez serves at the Boston Grand Slam in 2017.
The #9 ranked L.E.D. (Harding Brumby and Grayson Ayres) placed t-5th in Atlanta after being elimiated by the #1 team, Cisek/Showalter. This pair will be looking forward to the opportunity to earn some wins in Chicago.
The Chicago Tour Stop is the first 2018 tournament for three power ranked teams: #13 Tetelestai (Jesse Throw and Logan Cornelius), #14 Joey & Joey (Joey Pierron and Joey Hafertepe), and #21 Origin Valor (Michael Zagone and Joey Connolley). This weekend will show how these teams square up against each other and the rest of the field. Point Loma Spike may also be looking for revenge on Tetelestai, the team who eliminated them at 2017 Nationals.
Along with these 5 strong teams, there are three mash-up teams with large potential. Origin Moan (Patrick Drucker and Matt Bohnen) is a power team. This Origin Roundnet Club mash-up placed third at the Charleston Tour Stop back in 2016 and both players have improved since then.
A more crafty mash-up with an equal chance of going far is Chico Rico (Skyler Boles and George Rizk). Boles and Rizk's peak play allow for easy put-aways and a multitude of touches , so the potential is high here. A match between Chico Rick and Origin Moan would be fun to see as Drucker and Rizk faced Boles and his partner Nick Sant in Atlanta.
George Rizk of Chico Rico serves at the Boston Grand Slam in 2017.
The third strong mash-up is the Origin Roundnet Club mix of Chris Hornacek and Sam Hynes. Hynes has not competed this year, but Hornacek makes up for this with his four 2018 podium finishes.
The #22 Shmaneuvments (Brandon Spector and Nick Abramson) and #24 Cho's Bros (Caleb Royse and Micah Corbett) will also be competing.
These are only 10 of the 16 Premier teams competing tomorrow, not to mention the 22 other teams in the non-power pools. This tournament will be a good one.
Let us know who you think will take top 4 and top 8 in the Prediction Poll! Results to be posted tonight.
Seven teams are competing in the Women's Division in Chicago. Do-Si-Do, the combination of Julie Haselton of the #3 MØXIE and Christina Coppola, will be looking to take it home.
Fourteen teams are returning on Sunday for Coed play. The front-runner is Drip which features Dylan Fogarty of Origin Vengeance and Julie Haselton of MØXIE. Other teams to look out for are Pocket Pickers (Alex Perry and Jack Mathews) and Should Have Played With Shaun (Christina Coppola and Nick Gonzales).
Let us know who you think will take top 4 in the Prediction Poll! Results to be posted tonight.
How to watch
Bracket matches from this event will be live-streamed on Facebook Live with a scoreboard and commentary. Here is how you can make sure to be notified when each match starts:
1. Go here: https://www.facebook.com/spikeball/.
2. Select the Follow/Following dropdown button.
3. Select the little pencil next to Notifications (on mobile select Edit Notification Settings).
4. Select "All Live Posts" under the Live Videos section.
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.
Subscribe here to receive weekly email updates from The Rally Blog!