As aforementioned, the Montreal Tour Stop is boasting a large Advanced Division. At the top of the division is a group of 12 Premier teams (9 American and 3 Canadian) that will all be looking for high finishes.
There is no clear favorite to win this Tour Stop. The top two contenders appear to be the #3 ranked Hilltop Spikes (Max Model and Cole Model) and the mashup team Cisek/Ortega, which mixes Tyler Cisek of the #1 Cisek/Showalter and Kenny Ortega of the #4 Point Loma Spike.
On paper it is hard to measure who will have the upper hand, but like always, team chemistry between Ortega and Cisek is crucial. At SummerSpike 2018 at the end of June, Hilltop Spikes played Cisek/Showalter close in the semifinals. With Ortega subbed in for Showalter, will they be able to pull through?
The team expected to take third is another established team: #6 ranked The (717) (Caleb Heck and Joel Graham) of Lancaster, PA. The (717) is at their highest ranking of 2018 and have displayed strong consistency this year. A threat to them will be Chris & Ezra, the mashup of Chris Hornacek of #5 Origin Vengeance and Ezra Dantowitz. Dantowitz placed third at the Montreal Tour Stop in 2017 alongside Skyler Boles.
Although these four teams are expected by most to make the top 4, there are many teams that can make it into top 8 and maybe even upset one of the teams above. A total of three Canadian teams are Premier-level and all three will be present in Montreal. Ratons (Alexandre Fortin-Martel and Felix-Antoine Lemerise) of Quebec City are currently the #1 ranked team in Quebec. They have won two of the three Quebec Tour events and placed top 8 at the Lancaster Tour Stop.
Felix-Antoine Lemerise of Ratons hits a ball at the Sherbrooke Tour Stop.
The one team to beat Ratons during the Quebec Tour is the #2 in Quebec team Never Give Up (Raf Karon and Pierre-Luc Laramee). Never Give Up displays athletic defense and strong serving, but is hindered by some inconsistent play. The third Premier team in Canada is WE THE NORTH (Charles Henri and Marc Etienne McLaughlin) who are ranked third in Quebec currently, but spent most of 2017 as the top Canadian team.
The 2016 Power Ranked Creamsicle (Mike White and Nick Sant) is returning for the Montreal Tour Stop. The 2017 Montreal Tour Stop, where they placed fourth, was the pair's only SRA event of 2017. White competed with Henri of WE THE NORTH in Sherbrooke last weekend and placed fourth.
Traveling from New York we have #21 Power Ranked Shmanuevments (Nick Abramson and Brandon Spector), Kobe or LeBron? (Brian Johnson and Jonny Dariano), who re-qualified for Premier by winning the SummerSpike 2018 Advanced Division, and Paw and Order (Cyrus Hadavi and Daniel Lilling). Rounding out the Premier teams is Spikers Anonymous (Taylor Church and Spencer Schmidt) of Utah.
There are many non-Premier teams that are threats in this division as well. The Bros (Simon Brisebois and Jordan Gaudet) of Montreal compete well with the top Quebec teams and defeated Never Give Up in Sherbrooke last weekend. Brisebois earned Premier by placing second in the SummerSpike 2018 Advanced Division with Laramee of Never Give Up. Blake Rock of Rock Paper Singer and Becca Graham of Ogres Heroes are teaming as Graham_Rock. With peak play, both of these teams could upset a Premier team and place in the top 8.
Multiple other strong Canadian teams will be attending, including 404 Name Not Found (Gabriel Boucher and Alexandre Bellemare) and Beauty and the Beast (Costa Marino and Anthony Desbiens). We Don’t Run (Ravi Kandula and Ryan Baillargeon) of New Jersey could also be a threat.
Women's roundnet is big in Quebec and, like last year, 12 teams will be competing in the Tour Stop's Women's Division. Leading the pack is #4 ranked Lagertha (Marie-Eve Bergeron and Nancy Gougeon). Lagertha almost took down #1 ranked Ogres Heroes at the Lancaster Tour Stop before finishing third overall.
Right behind them is Shark Attack (Sarah Boucher Gratton and Frederique Crete) who placed first in the Sherbrooke Tour Stop Women's Division last weekend. A third team to watch out for is Flowmance (Alexie Duval and Marie-Claude Pariseau) who placed third in Sherbrooke and second at the Boston Grand Slam last year.
Frederique Crete of Shark Attack reaches for a hit at the Sherbrooke Tour Stop.
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 email@example.com or @mwhitey17 on Twitter.