David Gonzales of Bolivia goes to serve a ball at a tournament in Philadelphia this year.
Earlier this season, Golden Set (Harding Brumby and Eric Zishka) and Bolivia (David and Gustavo Gonzales) battled for Southeast supremacy. Over the course of the season, Brumby and Zishka have had more success overall, but for a brief stretch of time in the beginning of the summer, the Gonzales brothers vaulted in front of them, with wins over Golden Set in Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Nashville.
Bolivia was also the first of the two to win a tour stop, placing first in Charlotte in May. Since then the duo has been relatively inactive, while Golden Set has continued on an upward trajectory, highlighted by a second place finish at the Chicago Grand Slam and a victory at the Canadian Tour Stop in Montreal.
Brumby, however, will not be in attendance at Southeast Regionals, as he has been called to hurricane relief through the Air Force Reserve. Instead, Zishka will be playing with Southeast star Grayson Ayres.
Bolivia and Ayres/Zishka are far and away the front runners this weekend. When they eventually meet in the finals, it will be a chance for Ayres/Zishka to show their stuff against an established team. For Zishka, it is a chance to exact some revenge for the three losses Golden Set suffered at the hands of Bolivia this year.
But I don't expect it to happen. Gustavo turns on his game in later rounds of tournaments and the brothers' craftiness and unwillingness to get intimidated by Zishka's loud intensity have allowed them to own the matchup this season.
It's hard to beat a team three times in a row, but Bolivia has already shown that they can do that. I predict they'll notch a fourth win, albeit this time over a mashup of Zishka and Ayres, and a Southeast Regional title.
At College Nationals, Andrew Card and Travis Core of Easily Dug dazzled and played champions Mike White and Daniel McPartland close in the finals. At the Chicago Grand Slam, the two faltered a bit more and as a result had the misfortune of playing (and losing to) cisek_showalter (Tyler Cisek and Peter Jon Showalter) in the round of 16.
I expect them to bounce back on their home turf and on grass, where Core's athleticism shines and Card can track down balls and deliver near-perfect sets from anywhere. They still will not beat Bolivia or Golden Set, as Core's inexperience will hurt them against these veteran teams. But Core's raw talent is remarkable and Card's ability to recover and play defense rival anyone in the country and it will certainly be enough to propel them past other Southeast foes.
Micah Corbett of Cho's Bros follows through after hitting a ball at a tournament in 2016.
Cho's Bros (Micah Corbett and Caleb Royse) has had a few good tournaments this season. A podium finish this weekend may be a bit ambitious, but when they are serving well they can give other teams a lot of problems. And in Chicago Sleeper Pick (Joey Pierron and Adrian Brambila) showed you can advance far with strong serves.
Unicorn Rampage (Ben Bunze and David Thole), while they have been inactive in official tour play since the Southeast Tour ended, are a team no one wants to meet in the bracket. The two can flat out play defense and hit smartly. To beat them an opponent will have to either serve lights out or ramp up their own defensive energy to match these youngsters'.
Other teams to look out for include:
- The Fire Extinguishers (Brian Childs and Sam Konstanty)
- Spiker No Spiking (Skylar Shibayama and Chris Moates)
- RiseUpLights (Ben Landes and Keenan Hobbs)
- Daddy's Crackers (Jacob Fresh and Caleb Wood)
- Easily Dug
- Unicorn Rampage
Here are the results of The Rally's Prediction Poll for the Premier Division:
|The Fire Extinguishers||1||1||4||4||13||22.25|
|Spiker No Spiking!||0||0||0||5||7||6.75|
Bullcity Spikes (Anthony Daming and Juan Ruiz) snuck onto this month's Power Rankings, and they'll be looking to defend that decision in the Advanced Division at Southeast Regionals. Both can play defense and serve low and at angles (all in typical Southeast style). They should win this thing.
Their biggest competitor may be Cluck (Tucker Youngblood and Clark Marshall). Youngblood and Marshall have each shined in the past and got second place at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Spikeball® College Invitational in May. Last year they lost in the round of 16 at Southeast Regionals. In the Advanced Division this year they should be expected to make it quite a bit further.
Below these top two contenders is a myriad of Southeast mash-up teams. The Premier-level Karry Nusbuam is teaming with the up-in-coming player John Littrell as Flying Peacocks.
Connor Harte and Derek Wheeler are also teaming for the second time as Kevin's Famous Chili. These two took fourth at the 3rd Annual Midsummer Spikedown where they upset the Premier-level Mighty Ducks.
Another team looking for a top 4 finish is D.K.P.O., comprised of Dakota White and Isaac Starwel. White took home the Columbus Tour Stop Advanced Division back in July.
MLB (Wesley Thompson and Josh McCarron) is also a contending team that has impressed at the few official tournaments they have attended.
- Bullcity Spikes
- Kevin's Famous Chili
Here are the results of The Rally's Prediction Poll for the Advanced Division:
|Kevin's Famous Chili||2||3||1||1||20|
|Be the Ball. Danny||0||1||1||2||7|
|A Cup of Dirt||0||2||0||0||6|
|Kevin's Famous Chili||20|
|Field the burn||8|
|Last Minute Spikers||7|
Here are the results of The Rally's Prediction Poll for the Women's Division:
|Like a Girl||0||18||6||42|
|Not Twi ns||0||7||16||30|
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