Author: Ben Saxton

The Playoff Picture

Is it playoff time already? Very nearly. It seems like just yesterday that I was writing team preview’s and now all of a sudden the Regular Season is coming to an end and I’ve barely had any chance to tell the stories of what’s been going on in our Calgary and Vancouver 2020 seasons. This year’s contender’s are nearly decided, so let’s take a look at how the team’s have gotten to where they are right now, and what tomorrow’s matchups mean to them heading into the knockout rounds.

NBVL Vancouver
Remember that in Vancouver this Sunday’s matches start at a special time 1:30pm PST

We’ll start of with the untouchables, Natura Solutions is the only team in either league to still be undefeated, and therefore to have clinched the #1 seed going into the playoffs. On top of that, the team has only gone to Overtime once, meaning they’ve only dropped a single match out of the 8 total that they’ve played, and Jared Krause and Grant O’Gorman remain the only unblemished pair in either league. Will they be able to carry their winning ways through to the end?

On the other end of the spectrum, Dunbar Cycles have had a rough go this season. They had high hopes coming in, but with some miscommunications and an inability to finish matches for either gender, they’ve gone through the first 4 weeks with only a single point. Their playoff dreams are over, but they have the opportunity to end their season on a bright note if they can take down Volleyball Stuff this weekend.

Volleyball Stuff is on the outside looking in at the moment, currently in 5th but only a single point back from 2nd, giving them plenty of opportunity to bounce themselves either in or out of the playoffs. A win will put them in good shape, and even going to Overtime will give them a chance in a tiebreak scenario (depending on how other matches go), but if they lose in straight sets to Dunbar, then they kiss the postseason goodbye.

In a 3 way tie for 2nd sit Pacific Coast, navaslab.com, and Moveo, but all of them still have their neck on the line. Navas has arguably the toughest go of it, since they play top seeded Natura, though since the latter have already clinched, you never know how motivated they’ll be on this free weekend. The key matchup will be between Pacific Coast and Moveo, as the winner of that one will have the best chance at taking the #2 seed, and guaranteeing both their spot in the postseason, and also the chance to avoid Natura until the finals.

Every point counts for all 4 teams, even an OT loss could keep any of the 4 alive, and any straight sets defeat could mean the end of the road. For those of you who are curious, the seeding tiebreak protocol is as follows:

  • Total Matches won (ex. 3W+2L= 6pts > 2W+1L+2OTL= 6pts)
  • Head-to-head result
  • Sets W/L ratio between tied teams (OT counts as a set)
  • Points W/L ratio between tied teams
  • Points W/L ratio between all teams
  • Coin Toss

NBVL Calgary
It’s a little simpler in Calgary, since all 4 teams will be making it into the 2020 playoffs, but the race is still very tight. All 4 teams are still capable of taking the 1st seed, and all but one can end up as #4.

The Dome Defenders are currently the top dogs in Calgary. After dropping their week 1 matchup in regulation to CBVA, they’ve taken overtime wins in their last 4 straight, giving them the edge over the rest of the league. This despite their men’s team having yet to record their first match win so far this season. Camille Saxton and Steph Burnside have been dominant since week 2, and Leah Andries has stepped up when called upon as well.

The only team in a position to dethrone the Defenders is ACE. Though the women had a rough start, they’ve become contender’s since Megan Nagy returned to join Jaimie Thibeault. On the men’s front Tom Haight and Alex Bader have been solid and given ACE consistency with a 4-1 record on the Men’s court. They’ve led ACE to being the only team in Calgary without a regulation loss, and within a point of the top seed.

The men on CBVA are also 4-1 (with Colton De Man and Jarron Mueller together, they’re 4-0), and will look to put a stamp on who the top men’s pairing is when they battle it out with ACE for the second time this season. The last time they played, ACE took the matchup in overtime despite a dominant performance from De Man and Mueller, and a tight 3 set loss from Leah Pezer and Claire Crossfield on the women’s set (Crossfield and Rhonda Schmuland are the only pair to take down Burnside/Saxton this season). I expect it’s a rematch both teams are looking forward to. Potential for a top 2 playoff seed is on the line.

PlayBeach will be looking for that high playoff seeding as well. It’s a tough matchup, but Amanda Moppett-Beatch and Ashtyn Mackenzie nearly pulled it of the last time they played a 3 set match vs the Dome Defenders women, before suffering eventual match and then overtime defeats. PlayBeach had a strong start to the season winning their first 2 matchups, but have fallen in their last 3, so will need to find their early season form if they want to be contenders to take it all. A win this weekend will guarantee that PlayBeach won’t face off against the top seeded squad in round 1 of the Playoffs on Feb 16th.

Playoff Schedule

February 16th
Calgary Semi Finals at The Beach YYC
5:30PM and 6:30PM MST
Vancouver Semi Finals at 6Pack Indoor Beach
7:00PM and 8:00PM PST

February 23rd
Calgary Finals at The Beach YYC
5:30PM MST
Vancouver Finals at 6Pack Indoor Beach
7:30PM PST

February 29th
NBVL FINALS at The Beach YYC (Calgary)
5:30PM MST

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PlayBeach

Happy New Year NBVL fans!

Last but not least of the team previews in the NBVL Calgary, is PlayBeach. A start-up beach volleyball company spurred into creation by the NBVL itself. With 2 player/owners, they already had a core to their team going into the draft, so their strategy was to complement what they already have. Did they pick the right pieces to build a winning team wearing Green and Gray?

Staff

Hailey Funk answered the call to become a team Owner almost instantly, just didn’t yet know which company to represent. So her, Amanda Moppett-Beatch and Hailey’s husband, Mike Funk, have started PlayBeach, to encourage more beach volleyball everywhere, starting with the team they are co-running this season.

Scott Lahey – 4th Overall

Scott Lahey is the most experienced player in the NBVL Calgary. He’s represented Canada in International Play, he’s been at the top of the Alberta beach volleyball scene for over a decade, and he’s reached the podium in several of Canada’s most prestigious events, including silver at the Canadian National Championships and a Vancouver Open Bronze. As the founder of Playfit wellness, Lahey also takes pride in his fitness, and showed it during the combine, with the 2nd fastest time in the agility station. To top it all off, Lahey and Mike Funk have a pre-existing rapport on the sand, so when it came time for PlayBeach’s 1st pick at 4th overall, with Scott still available, it was an easy decision.

Amanda Moppett-Beatch – Player/Owner

Moppett-Beatch was a mandatory 2nd round pick by virtue of her player/ownership, though she would certainly have been considered in round 1 had she been available. 2 Canadian national Silvers and a Vancouver Open Gold prove that she can play with anyone in the country, and some FIVB Satellite top 10 finishes prove that she was no slouch in her exploits beyond borders either. As the cherry on top, Moppett-Beatch dominated the combine, posting top 5 results in every testing category, including the top overall squat throw. She’ll look to put that all together to help PlayBeach be at their best in the NBVL Calgary 2020 Season.

Mike Funk – Player/Owner

Mike may be the oldest player on the men’s side in the NBVL this season, but he’s used his time to become one of the all time greats on Alberta beach courts. He couldn’t be beaten provincially, spanning a couple of years, from ####-##, which is no small feat. The NBVL will be a whole new arena for Funk to show off what makes him great. Getting to do it for PlayBeach, a company that he co-founded, is icing on the cake.

Ashtyn MacKenzie – 13th overall

MacKenzie was one of only 3 athletes that couldn’t make the combine, but that didn’t make her any less valuable when it came time for PlayBeach to make their 2nd unforced pick at 13th overall. Ashtyn has proven herself by earning a bronze at the Alberta Provincial Championships in 2018, and taking 1st in a CBVA tier 1 event. One of the younger players in the NBVL Calgary, she’ll be able to learn a lot from her veteran teammate, Moppett-Beatch.

Joshua Woelfel – 20th overall

Woelfel brings a youthful edge to the PlayBeach men’s team. He’ll be behind Lahey and Funk to start things off, but will have the ability to step in when it’s his time. He has multiple Sandblaster medals, Bronze at Alberta Provincials in 2016, and Gold at U18 Alberta Provincials in 2013. With 2 veteran teammates, he’ll have such a good opportunity to learn every time he takes the court, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Woelfel grow in leaps and bounds as a player this season.

Natasha Gordey – 21st Overall

Gordey was the 6th round pick for PlayBeach at 21st overall, and was the youngest drafted athlete in the NBVL Calgary. She has a ton of youth Team Alberta beach experience, where she’s achieved multiple Provincials medals and National quarter final performances. Gordey will be hungry to get on the court this season, and show¬†

Team Summary

PlayBeach has a combination of youth and wisdom. The team will be led by veterans Lahey, Moppett-Beatch and Funk, with the youthful spark of MacKenzie, Woelfel and Gordey to keep them going. The men should be one of the most consistent teams this season, with a long history of success. The question mark will be how quickly Moppett-Beatch can gel with her young teammates, to make PlayBeach competitive against the stacked women’s field in the NBVL Calgary.

Volleyball Stuff

The final team preview for the NBVL Vancouver is the reigning runners up, Volleyball Stuff. In the Inaugural Season, this team looked unstoppable, and their women’s team (Chow/Wuttunee) were the only undefeated team during Regulation Play (before overtime) throughout the season. But they were toppled in the final, in heartbreaking fashion, a 16-14 Overtime defeat to Moveo. They’ll be looking for redemption in the 2020 season.

Staff

Sanjiv Jasra is the Vancouver based managing partner for Volleyball Stuff and the team’s owner, Sanjiv was responsible for getting the main uniforms made up for all of the NBVL Teams. Chrissy Benz is the GM for the Volleyball Stuff team, bringing expertise from her past roles in Volleyball Canada working with the beach and indoor teams, and her current role as alumni relations manager in athletics & recreation with UBC.

Kumiko Chow – Kept Player

As previously mentioned, Chow and former partner Wuttunee were unstoppable. During regulation match play they were unblemished, falling only in Overtime situations. Taken as the 1st overall pick, and then named as the Inaugural Season MVP, Kumi took home all of the accolades in 2019. All except for 1, the NBVL Championship trophy. Volleyball Stuff couldn’t say no to keeping the defending MVP, and they’re hoping that she’ll be able to pick up where she left off, and march them right back into the 2020 finals.

Joanna Braun – 5th overall

Volleyball Stuff’s 1st pick at 5th overall was Joanna Braun, another strong performer from the NBVL’s Inaugural Season, and the overall Vancouver beach scene. Braun has been a consistent presence at kits, as a founding member of the KWVC and a past finalist of the Vancouver Open. Jo finished 3rd overall last season for Natura, with top 6 numbers in 4 statistical categories (Pts, K, A, D). She also has a history of success in the summer with Volleyball Stuff team mate Chow, so they’ll be looking for chemistry to be a big factor.

Aleksandar Borisov – 8th overall

Borisov has shown himself to be a big jumper. Not only while he recorded the highest spike touch in back to back combines, but he also while making the biggest leap from the Inaugural Season draft (going undrafted) to present, where Volleyball Stuff selected him 8th overall in the 2nd round. The highest selection of all of the 5 athletes representing the Pacific Elite Beach Training group in the NBVL (check them out @pacificelitebeach). It may be Borisov’s first season playing in the NBVL, but he’ll play a big role for the men of Volleyball Stuff.

Alexander Harvalias – 17th overall

Harv was fantastic in the Inaugural Season for Moveo, especially in the Overtime comeback that sealed the deal over this very Volleyball Stuff team in last year’s finals. Wanting to capture some of that success for themselves, Volleyball Stuff grabbed the 2nd team all-star with their 3rd pick. Harv really stood out as one of the top defenders in the Inaugural Season, leading the league in total digs with 67 during the regular season and playoffs, combined. He’ll look to pick up right where he left off as Champion of the NBVL Inaugural Season.

Tamiko Young – 20th overall

Tamiko adds another layer of experience to the Volleyball Stuff women. In the Inaugural Season she was 4th among women, averaging 2 blocks per game for Active ReLeaf. Tamiko is another regular on the BC beach scene, with several quarter finals appearances on the KWVC and BC Beach tours, and 17th place finishes at the last 2 Vancouver Opens. Tamiko could be called upon to put up a wall in front of her defensive minded team mates, against some of their big hitting opponents this season.

Erland Polden – 29th Overall

Polden was the big mystery of the 2020 NBVL Draft. An import from Norway, not much was known about Polden’s playing ability. This could be the management move of the season, as Erland has been trained by some very accomplished coaches from his homeland, including Espen Sorum, who currently coaches the world’s top Norwegian duo. All eyes will be on Polden when he first takes to the sand for Volleyball Stuff, to see if he’ll be a difference maker.

Team Summary

Volleyball Stuff has an experienced women’s group, and an untested men’s squad. The women have the most combined experience in the NBVL Vancouver, and a lot of pre-established chemistry which should be of great benefit to them early in the season. Lack of size from their top 2 picks could leave them vulnerable, but Young should fill that hole if they struggle in the early season. The men are hard to predict, they will likely have a youthful energy coming into the season with Borisov and Harv, which should serve them well, and Polden could provide the X-Factor, but this is a team that will be worth checking out to see what surprises they have in store.