Fourteen premier teams are set to compete in Santa Monica tomorrow on the same beach that will host 2018 Nationals in just five weeks. Though all but one West Tour Stop was won by the favorite this year, the West's top teams have been upset enough times combined to promise some dramatic matches tomorrow.
#2 Power Ranked Wabi Sabi (Jarratt Rouse and Preston Bies) has spent the entire year at the top of the region and will be the favorite heading into tomorrow. However, Bies and Rouse were upset by #6 Anchored LI in Boston — their last Tour Stop of the season. Though they have the safety net of double-elimination, they will need to play to their potential to secure the regional championship.
Kenny Ortega and Zach Wood of #4 Point Loma Spike pose the greatest threat to Wabi Sabi. Despite suffering losses to Wabi Sabi in both San Diego and Nashville, Point Loma’s decisive win over Bies and Rouse back in April at the San Francisco Tour Stop should give them plenty of confidence for this heavyweight match-up.
Kenny Ortega of Point Loma Spike dives for a ball at the San Diego Tour Stop.
The favorite for third place, #11 SubPar Team (Jacob Fragiacomo and Jacob Martinez), made an incredible run the last time they were in Santa Monica. After falling into the Loser's Bracket early, the pair clawed their way to second place and even scored a win on Point Loma in the process. With their win on Point Loma and familiarity with Wabi Sabi, tomorrow could once again bring SubPar some success.
Though the aforementioned teams have guaranteed a spot in the Pro Division (see how that works here), #13 Spikers Anonymous (Taylor Church and Spencer Schmidt) will be particularly hungry a top two finish to earn an automatic bid. Despite boasting a series win over SubPar in Chicago, they will need superb offensive consistency to reach the Grand Finals over Wabi Sabi or Point Loma.
Depending on outcomes of the other three regional tournaments, however, finishing fourth may be enough for Spikers Anonymous to get into the Pro Division based on total Pro Points.
Taylor Church of Spikers Anonymous hits a ball at the Chicago Grand Slam.
The last West team on the Power Ranking is #18 Hoopla (Schon Siguenza and John Shurance). Though Siguenza and Shurance are not a major threat to qualify for the Pro Division, a strong finish could give an look into their ability win the Nationals Premier Division next month.
Among non-PR teams, Handsome Vacuums (Buddy Hammon and Zach Zimmerman) are the biggest threat to earn a spot on the podium. Fun fact: Hammon is the only player in attendance to have won a regional championship before (2017 West Regionals with Skyler Boles).
We’ll also see the reunion of Death Eaters (Marlon Fleming and Zac Vance), the 2018 return of Bryce Johnson (with Erik Schlick), and the Premier debut for The Veterans (Sam Buckman and Ben Buckman).
Rounding out the field are Santa Cruz Slingerz, We've Never Met, Rekt, Wet, and Tote n' Chit.
It’s the last chance for players to qualify for the Premier Division before Nationals, and thirty-six teams will be competing in the West Advanced Division for those spots. Some Premier players on half-Premier teams hoping to reach the finals include Ridge Bertuccio, Matt Ortlip, Mckay Hooker, and Luke Christopherson.
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.