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Volleyblog - April 22, 2010
April 22, 2010 - Brian Ferry
The culminating event for many USAVolleyball teams is the regional tournament. There is a national tournament, but it's far away from almost everybody and the entry fee is very steep. So, regionals for the Ohio Valley Region are held in Columbus, Ohio at the Convention Center. When I first started going to Regionals, there were hundreds of teams, the adult programs had to be split between Saturday and Sunday and EVERY team wanted to be there. Winning Regionals was the goal for the whole season. For the past several years, Regionals has increasingly been the domain of juniors teams. Don't get me wrong, I approve of emphasizing the juniors programs. However, I don't see any reason the adults should decline. I'm not sure why, but there were very few adult teams at Regionals this year. In men's A (my team's category) there were only 10 teams. I remember days when there were four or five pools of teams with representation from Michigan and Kentucky to Pennsylvania and West Virginia along with a bunch from all over Ohio. I was very disappointed. The entry fee for Regionals is always higher than the usual tournament fee and Columbus is just darned far for a team mostly from McKean, Warren, and Cattaraugus counties. The prize for winning the tournament is also down. A decade ago, you got your entry fee to Nationals (something like $700) paid. I'm not sure how many teams actually went, but that was the prize. This year it was a return of the entry fee. I'm pretty disappointed. I don't go there for the prize money, I want to see all the teams. This year I didn't see half the teams we played throughout the year, let alone a bunch of new faces.
My team has been hit and miss this year, with flashes of excellence and some pretty crummy performances. Often in the same day. At Regionals, we played a little better than our average, well below our best. We had an injury to a key player (I suppose there aren't a lot of not-key players on our team, maybe I should say, 'in a hard to replace position') at the end of pool play. We came in second in our pool of five (the weaker pool, in my estimation) and faced the number 1 seed out of the other pool. We had faced Michigan Elite twice before. I had only seen them once. They had all their guns in position and I'm not confident our best game would have beaten their best. Down a middle hitter we were overmatched. We played hard, but couldn't get anything going. The Michigan guys were good people and good players. It's a little easier to lose to a team like that.
Other volleyball at Regionals
Conveniently, the Ohio State Buckeyes hosted the St. Francis Red Flash. Two guys I've played against many times, Judy (Jordan) Varee and Tyler Mattera are in their senior years of eligibility at St. Francis, playing for Head Coach Rummy (Mike Rumbaugh) who I've played against for decades. I had never seen them play in varsity competition. Judy is the primary option in the attack. Tyler, despite being dramatically shorter than the average collegiate volleyball player, moved from libero to outside hitter this year, seeing substantial starts and playing time. Alex Fortney, who I'd played against once last year, also played most of the match. The Buckeyes won in four games, showing more polish, better serve receiving, and stronger serving. Even after a long day of playing volleyball, watching ball at the highest level I get to see was a treat. All of the guys I knew played well and my teammates and I got to visit with the players afterwards. Good times.
One more thing
I noticed in Volleyball Magazine that Matt Werle, a setter who went to Meadville High School, has some kind of shot at making the men's national team. That's in addition to former Penn State standout and West Seneca, N.Y., product Matt Anderson. Local boys making us proud.
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