Note: Solomon Berry wrote these previews.
Trippy Lizard (Andrew Card & Clark Marshall)
On paper, Trippy Lizard is the clear favorite tomorrow. Of the teams signed up, they have had the best results and the most consistent results, and that is not expected to change in Charleston. Since their win in Indianapolis and fourth place finish in Boston, Clark teamed up with PJ Showalter to win the Grand Rapids tour stop as “Skidoosh”. Between Andrew’s incredible defense, Clark’s often dominant serves, and their combined experience, anything less than second would be a clear disappointment.
Schweppes (Jesse Showalter & Micah Zimmerman)
Shweppes is fresh off a BIG result in Grand Rapids where they made the finals and took second to PJ and Clark. After starting off the year rather inconsistently with a 10th place finish in Lancaster, their top notch serve receive and incredible defense were on full display throughout the day. Expect them to finish very well, though they could run into trouble down the stretch if they don’t generate many breaks from their defense.
Spikers Synonymous (Taylor Church & Tyler Stokes)
Spikers has only played two tournaments together, but have performed very well at both. In Seattle they beat Clem/Rouse and finished T-5th, and in Grand Rapids they landed on the podium with third. Both play very quick, run-down defense, and Stokes’ serve was repeatedly described as nothing short of “wet” by the commentators in Michigan. Expect their strong play to continue against some very stiff competition.
Shake n’ Bake (David Gonzales & Matt Bohnen)
This will be Shake n’ Bake’s second tournament together this year, and WOW what a first tournament. Taking first in Boston came as a surprise to most people as they beat top ten power ranked teams such as Origin Vengeance and BranDan. David’s deadly drop serves and consistent play, paired with Bohnen’s powerful serving is an impressive combination and could pose problems for a lot of teams on this list. The first time was a surprise, but a second time makes it real right?
Coastal Empire (Harding Brumby & Brendan Ferreira)
Consistency will be key for this team, specifically consistency in landing serves on the net. Harding has insanely good put-aways and a ton of experience, while Brendan has a wide array of nasty serves. In Grand Rapids they went 3-4 and ended up with a less than opportune seed. If they can start out strong and get a good seed heading into bracket play, they could go much further this time around.
Sonic Boom (Connor Harte & Benjamin Bunze)
Sonic Boom started out Power Ranked this year, but they briefly dropped out in June before returning in July. Their T-7th finish in Raleigh is their best result so far this year. With better serve consistency and cleaner overall play, a better result can come.
Top 5 Prediction
1st: Trippy Lizard
2nd: Spikers Synonymous
4th: Shake n’ Bake
5th: Sonic Boom
J Squared (Jay Buxton & Jonathan Conrady)
Jonathan and Jay should be poised for success in their first Tour Stop together. Aiming to qualify for premier in his first real opportunity, Jay is solid across the board. He pairs a powerful offensive gam with a solid serve receive that works well in the so-called “Serveball” era. This serve receive will help limit breaks down the stretch in bracket play. Jonathan has played in multiple tournaments this year, alternating between Advanced and Premier since he qualified in Milwaukee. Jonathan is another excellent all-around player who is at times hampered by somewhat inconsistent serves. Look for them to generate touches and breaks down the stretch while everyone else is running on fumes.
Easily Burnt (Chandler Hertzler & Solomon Berry)
Chandler is the bigger name here, having traveled to a multitude of tournaments already this year, and coming away just short each time against loaded fields. He has three third place finishes so far, as well as a fourth place finish, mostly in stacked fields like Seattle and Santa Monica. His serves are certifiably nasty and this team will get plenty of breaks that way. After losing in the quarterfinals at Grand Rapids, he and Solomon decided to team up at Charleston to try and finally go the distance. Consistency from Solomon will be the biggest key for this team, as when he is nailing his serves from both hands it can be hard to keep up. At times however he looks like a completely different player (i.e. poor pool play in Michigan). This editor, along with pretty much all of Utah will be cheering for this team, and especially Chandler, to make the finals.
Combo Platter (JR Moise & Chandler Murphy)
Chandler Murphy is an OG baller who won Southeast Regionals 4 years ago. He is incredibly quick on defense and will get touches on every ball that is not absolutely hammered. Him and JR both play very clean offense with solid put-aways that will make it very hard to get defensive touches. JR is left handed with some good serves and just a consistent player all around. He has gotten really good, really fast and won a King of the Beach tournament last year over players such as Brendan Ferreira. Seeing how these two mesh will be very important, but they should do well regardless.
Boboddy (Olivia Jenkins & Tori Farlow)
Many consider Boboddy to be the top Women’s team in the game right now, and it would not be surprising if they earn Premier this weekend. Olivia has strong cuts with both hands and is very consistent. Expect her to play clean offense with hard and low put-aways. Tori is sometimes overlooked, but her fwango is insanely low to the ground and she plays quick defense. With quality, consistent serves from both of them, this could be their tournament.
Totally Calculated (Jeremy Lutz & Andrew Kernich)
Jeremy and Andrew will be playing their third tournament together in Charleston. They previously played for Clemson in both College Sectionals and Nationals last year. Their primary strengths are speed and defense, which lets them get breaks without killer serves. The weak point in their games is their serves, which they have been working on perfecting this summer, along with their in-game sets and finishing. They should be a solid team that could work their way into the picture with some solid bracket play.
’Merica (Tripp Pierson & Katie Pierson)
Tripp qualified for premier at regionals last year and since then has played exclusively in Advanced with his daughter, aiming to qualify her as well. They won Intermediate in Atlanta last year and have slowly been moving up in Advanced. Their best result so far was ninth place at the Raleigh Tour Stop. At that point Tripp was looking for a way to garner more breaks on their serves, so we will see what he has prepared this time. Katie is incredibly consistent for someone who is only fifteen, with clean put-aways and solid serves that almost always find the net.
Seth Squared (Seth Ivanoff & Seth Meyer)
Seth and Seth started traveling for Tour Stops about a year ago and have already made appearances in Nashville, Athens and Atlanta. Most recently, they took first place in Intermediate at the Raleigh Tour Stop and decided to move up to Advanced in Charleston. With solid and consistent jam serves, and a constant high level of energy, they could surprise some teams later in the day.
Top 4 Prediction
1st: Easily Burnt
2nd: Combo Platte
3rd: J Squared