Tag: Inaugural Season

Moveo takes the crown

It was only a few days of beach volleyball over what seemed like a very quick month of January, but the drama built up perfectly for a thrilling conclusion only 2 weeks ago. There was certainly more drama than the Championship Sunday (NFL) that followed. Apologies for the delay in publishing this write-up, but I’ve made sure to make it extra thorough.

The regular season came down to the final day of matches, but ultimately Dunbar Cycles and Active ReLeaf couldn’t do enough to make it through to the money rounds. Volleyball BC snuck into the 4th seed, needing to win their last 3 Matchups in a row to steal the last playoff spot, and earn a semi finals date with top seeded Volleyball Stuff. The latter pulled ahead of Moveo in their final regular season meeting. It was Moveo’s only loss of the season, but it was enough to drop them into the 2nd seed, where they lined up against 3 seed, Natura Solutions.

All in all, the regular season oved smoothly. Teams were feeling each other out at the beginning, and each day seemed to be played with a little more fire than the last. Players started getting into it a little more. Strategies developed for the new Overtime format. A few more fans started to come out to watch each time. Teams were building chemistry, and working together with their gender counterparts in ways that haven’t happened before. But none of it compared to Playoff Sunday.

The best was truly saved for last. Starting with #1 Volleyball Stuff vs #4 Volleyball BC. Right from the start, you new this matchup was going to be a nail biter. On the women’s side, we saw the top 2 drafted players (Kumiko Chow and Denise Wooding) pitted against one another. Kumi alongside super athletic Katie Wuttunee for Vballstuff, and Denise paired with the hard hitting Meghan Brown for VBC. The last time the 2 men’s pairs had played in week 1, VBStuff had pulled a crazy 3rd set comeback to win, but this was before the addition of Krzyzstof Orman to VBC.

The matches didn’t disappoint, both first sets going into extra points and VBC going up 1-0 on both courts. VBStuff was not going to lay down, however, winning set 2 on both courts and set both matches to the deciding 3rd set. Volleyball Stuff drew first blood, winning the women’s match 15-13 on a dig and transition kill from Kumiko Chow. Jonny Wiskar would answer shortly thereafter with an ace to seal the men’s match 17-15 for Volleyball BC, and send both teams into Overtime. The alternating points seemed to suit Vball Stuff early on, and they were able pull away point by point until the eventual 15-10 Victory, to book their spot in the NBVL Inaugural Season Finals. VBC fought hard to earn their playoff berth, but couldn’t keep their run alive, finishing 3rd and walking away with $500 to split.

The next semi was similar, and yet very different. The way #2 Moveo vs #3 Natura Solutions started it seemed like things could be over quickly. Jared Krause and Murf Laidlaw got off to a very fast start for Natura, dominating the first set over the Moveo men, winning 21-12. On the other court, it was Moveo that got off to the early lead, starting up 8-1 and later 12-6, but Joanna Braun and Jaz Kim hung tight and rallied back, evening the score at 13-13 and eventually pulling through in the first set with a 21-19 finish to give Natura the edge in both matches.

Moveo refused to give up on either court, however, and similar to the first semi final, both matches were pushed to the 3rd set. Natura Solutions would prevail in the men’s match, and a Jana Weir block would ice the women’s match for Moveo, giving the fans what they wanted, a 2nd semi final overtime. Neither team wanted to back down, but Moveo’s balanced men’s and women’s pairings edged them ahead of their opponents, ending Natura Solutions season in 3rd place.

So the finals stage was set. #1 vs #2. Volleyball Stuff vs Moveo. Kumiko Chow and Katie Wuttunee vs Jana Weir and Aly McKay. John Galloway and Joel Caschetto vs Ryan Gandy and Alexander Harvalias. The best 2 teams from the regular season proving that their rankings were deserved. After a brief rest, they were ready to face off in front of a full 6 pack crowd.

On the women’s court, Kumi and Katie struck early and often. They had an answer for everything that Jana and Aly could throw at them. It was the first straight sets match victory of the night 21-14, 21-16, and in doing so Volleyball Stuff confirmed the strength of their women’s pair, as the only duo to remain unbeaten in regulation play all season. But it takes more than one pair win the NBVL crown, and so all eyes turned to the men’s court, where Gandy and Harv needed to find some magic to keep their team alive. Magic which they were able to find, gutting two straight 2 point wins 21-19, 21-19, and sending the NBVL Inaugural Season Finals, fittingly, into Overtime.

Up until the finals, Moveo was unbeaten in Overtime play, winning their previous 4 such matchups. Volleyball Stuff had a 2-1 Overtime record, but in the previous matchup between the 2 teams, no extra play was needed as VB Stuff had won in 2 straight matches. In the early goings it seemed like the Moveo magic would continue, going ahead 10-7, and then 11-9, but just like that the tides changed as VBStuff rattled off 4 straight points, giving them a 13-11 lead out of nowhere, and really demonstrating how impactful each earned point can be in the NBVL’s Overtime format. It seemed like the momentum had shifted enough for Stuff to taste victory, but Moveo was undeterred. They managed to seal the championship with a never bigger 4 point swing of their own, and the 15-13 OT win. Volleyball Stuff had come so close, but would walk away in 2nd place, splitting $1000.

It was a victory for Moveo, and for the NBVL in it’s inaugural season. The finals proved that it takes teams competing together to win a championship. Moveo could boast neither the strongest male, nor female team, as individually, both teams finished the season with records only slightly above .500 in regulation play, but working together they were unstoppable, with a perfect 5-0 in overtime performances. Chalk it up to the veteran savvy of Ryan Gandy and Jana Weir, or the youthful energy and exciting play of Harv and McKay, or possibly the foresight of Moveo’s all female management team of Lisa Tam, Sarah Jung, and Felicia Culham who saw the potential and drafted the NBVL’s first ever championship team. Whatever the keys to success, here’s to hoping it sparks future conversations about beach volleyball, and future exciting seasons for the NBVL.

Combine + Draft

Highlights from the Inaugural Season Combine and Draft

Music: https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free…

Preseason Begins

First off, I’d like to thank everyone involved for helping shape a very successful Inaugural Season Combine and Draft. Out of 39 eligible athletes, 33 participated in the Combine in some capacity. Participation will be key to the season’s success, so it was great to see so many faces putting forth a full effort. Competing through physical and skill based activities, athletes looked to impress team Owners, and give themselves a better shot at being drafted later in the night.

Many of the players haven’t competed in a tryout scenario since their club days. It was a chance to compare against peers in a new way between already extremely competitive people (Further evidenced at the Wiskar Christmas charades party this weekend), and everyone seemed willing to put forth a great showing. Skill drills were led by Don Saxton, and were designed for Owners to see what players were capable of. Physical stations gave a concrete score to the athletes. Top male and female results from the physical stations went as follows:

Standing ReachStephen Nash – 8’7″Lainna Buch – 8’3″
Block TouchAleksandar Borisov – 10’5″ Daniel Rod – 10’5″Lainna Buch – 9’5″
Spike TouchDaniel Rod – 10’6.5″Lainna Buch – 9’5″
Side-Line AgilityKrzysztof Orman – 4.40sTamiko Young – 4.94s
Standing Med Ball TossJared Krause – 6.42mColleen Ogilvie – 5.45m
Seated Med Ball TossAlexander Harvalias – 3.20mDanielle Curtis – 2.81 m

All athletes profiles will be update with their physical scores over the next week.

The last hour of the Combine saw everyone play more traditional volleyball. Not exactly the same, since players were encouraged to rally with a variety of partners. Each rally gave a good look at what the athletes can do in game like situations, and team Owners in attendance had their scouting sheets out during their last look at the players, making any last minute changes to their pre draft rankings depending on which players could impress on Saturday night.

Then just like that, the draft was upon us. Unfortunately, technical issues affected the live stream, but Jayme Lepp and Rob Driscoll stepped up huge, with an excellent impromptu Instagram Live play-by-play.  The 6 team’s Owners and GMs took their turns and made their picks. The women dominated the first 2 rounds, selected in 7 of the first 10 picks (not including player owner, self drafts). Kumiko Chow was drafted number 1 overall by Grant O’Gorman, GM for Volleyball Stuff, which earned her the right to reveal the yet-to-be-named NBVL Trophy. The entire draft order can be found at the end of this article.

There were some surprising choices, and others that were not so surprising. Based on numbers from the physical testing and analysis from my source in the middle of the action (my parents running the drills), I’ve come up with 2 top value draft choices. These are the players who I think are most likely to outplay their draft position and benefit their respective teams.

For the women, drafted 17th overall, Tamiko Young had the fastest time in the Sideline Agility, and also ranked in the top 5 in every physical test besides the seated med ball toss. She was also rated very highly by the unbiased Combine coaches Don + Mylene Saxton, who both thought she was drafted far lower than where they rated her.
On the men’s side, Krzysztof Orman scored similarly high in the physical testing, and is already a highly established player in the Kits community. The reason for him being drafted 23rd overall was due mainly to his having to miss the first 3 matchups of the season. When he returns, however, he will have a good chance to make an immediate impact.

So now the teams are set, and Owner’s are learning the ropes of managing their teams. It’s new ground for everyone, but already transactions are being made. Volleyball BC made the NBVL’s first Free Agent acquisition, picking up Daniel Rod to fill in while Krzysztof misses time. Rod, who had the highest spike touch of the field, might even be able to steal the starting spot away if he performs well. The first trade was also made last week, when Active ReLeaf received Tamiko Young from Dunbar Cycles in exchange for Colleen Ogilvie. We’ll have to wait until the season begins, January 6th, to see which side gained the most value.

As we head into the holidays, the preseason will hit it’s stride. Teams have already begun their training, only time will tell who will be in the best shape come Opening night. Which team do you think will take home the Title?

Draft Order

  1. Kumiko ChowVolleyball Stuff
  2. Denise WoodingVolleyball BC
  3. Jana WeirMoveo
  4. Joanna BraunNatura Solutions
  5. Rob VenablesDunbar Cycles
  6. Krystian WetulaniActive ReLeaf
  7. Colleen Ogilvie – Active ReLeaf
  8. Stephen Nash – Dunbar Cycles
  9. Jared Krause – Natura Solutions
  10. Aly McKay – Moveo
  11. Jonny Wiskar – Volleyball BC
  12. Katie Wuttunee – Volleyball Stuff
  13. John Galloway – Volleyball Stuff
  14. Meghan Brown – Volleyball BC
  15. Ryan Gandy – Moveo
  16. Jaz Kim – Natura Sport
  17. Tamiko Young – Dunbar Cycles
  18. Chloe Stone – Active ReLeaf
  19. David Beleznay – Active ReLeaf
  20. Kelsi Boroevich – Dunbar Cycles
  21. Murray Laidlaw – Natura Solution
  22. Alexander Harvalias – Moveo
  23. Krzysztof Orman – Volleyball BC
  24. Joel Caschetto – Volleyball Stuff

Big thank you to all volunteers: Don Saxton for heading the skill testing drills. Kumiko Chow, Jayme Lepp, Grant O’Gorman, Joel Caschetto, Mylene Saxton and Stephen Nash for manning the physical testing stations. Jayme Lepp and Rob Driscoll for entertaining and informing the online viewers. Last but not least, all photo credit goes to Emily Raymond, who also volunteered to keep me organized enough to get through the evening (the most difficult task of all).