VLA Kickoff Classic Tournament
Location: Ball Sports Academy Angola, Indiana
Match Schedule: July 3rd
Match Schedule: July 4th
Match Schedule: July 5th
Preview: Both teams entered the finale of the VLA Kickoff Classic with high spirits
and aspirations. LVC secured the top seed for the playoffs by narrowly defeating the
Icemen in a five set thriller that ended deuce point at 15-13. Both teams knocked off
their semifinal opponent in straight sets as well, setting up a much anticipated
rematch. For LVC they started with the same group as the pool play match up, save
fresh legs of Mark Jones at outside hitter and Dan Starkey earned the starting nod at
opposite after powering the team through the semifinal match. The critical factor
would be the Icemen’s potent offense matching up against the formidable front line
of LVC and their tenacious backcourt defenders. LVC captain Chris Hosley had
commented on the team’s ability to earn solid block touches as the focal point to
their previous victory. But with previous match MVP, Witkofsky, on the sideline
would they be able to contain the attack for the Icemen, or would the Ice hitter’s
make their own adjustments along with Setter Tim Falknor to overcome the New
LVC: Luke Braswell (S), Joe Norton (OH), Cody Kessel (OH), Mike Marshman (MB),
Lanasa Rogers (MB), Jordan Varee (OP), Mike Pelletier (L)
ICE: Tim Falknor (S), Dave Wieczorek (OH), Mark Jones (OH), Dave Hancock (MB),
Brandon Poindexter (MB), Dan Starkey (OP), and Peter Jasaitis (L)
It didn’t take more than the first two points to pick up right where the last match
ended. Wieczorek opened the match with a kill, only to see LVC’s Kessel notch his
own on the next sideout. Kessel added a roof to go up 3-1 and it looked like things
were right on schedule for the top seed. A triple block by LVC, followed up by a
controlled block from Rogers and transition kill moved the lead to 6-2. LVC’s block
and defense was performing exactly as Coach CJ Denk had hoped to start the
Championship and Icemen were left looking for ways to stem the tide. Mark Jones
attacking brilliance started to show through as he opted to recycle a ball off the LVC
block, helping him get a second and better attack situation. Taking advantage of his
self made opportunity, Jones cut the lead to 8-6. This reversal of LVC’s block
presence may have been a catalyst for the Icemen and mindset change to use their
foes strength against them. A Wieczorek ace pulled the Ice within one on the next
play. Then it was the quick hitters chance to get involved as Rogers pinballed a shot
through the Icemen block, immediately followed by Hancock’s midair drift and turn
to bang one home. As he continued all weekend, Hancock again made his presence
felt from the endline too. Back to Back aces from Hancock tied the set at 12s.
Falknor tacked on another ace, for the Icemen’s 4 th of the set, and a 14-13 lead. The
relentless service pressure from Chicago caused back to back points on overpasses
and opened their biggest margin of the set at 17-14. Twice Icemen hitters in the
same rally opted to use the recycle blueprint from an earlier Jones’ play to arrange a
Bic kill for Wieczorek. The momentum had squarely shifted to the Icemen and a
crucial Jones/Hancock block advanced the score to 20-16 in their favor. After some
back and forth play Hancock would close the set with a kill at 25-20.
The Icemen had been successfully able to reverse their fortunes of the previous
match turning LVC’s blocking prowess against them and utilizing their own service
strength to cause separation. The Icemen showed that they also were more than
capable of playing big at the net. Brandon Poindexter had a huge one on one stuff to
set up an early 2-0 Ice lead. Falknor flashed a brilliant move with a one handed back
set to Wieczorek for a score. LVC’s outside hitter Norton tied the game at 5 each.
And a Varee hammer from the backrow pushed LVC up 7-6. The Daves (Wieczorek
and Hancock) teamed for a stuff to reclaim a small lead at 9-8. Rogers and
Poindexter exchanged kills, and a good block touch from Marshman led to another
Norton spike point. Starkey and Hancock kept Ice on pace with their own winners.
A Kessel pass to attack pulled LVC to within 18-16. It was three key plays from big
Brandon Poindexter than broke the floodgates. First a cutback smash from the on-
setter quick, followed up by two stuffs moved the Ice to a comfortable 21-16 score.
Two more kills from Jones, the last chiseling the block all the way across the court,
finished the set at 25-19.
Down 0-2 and looking for a spark, Coach Denk turned to the youthful Landon Shorts
to shore up the outside position and moved Kessel to the Opposite (a position he
had played his entire collegiate career). But Chicago’s Jones had plans of his own
and started the set with a difficult cut serve that lead to Starkey’s first blood. His
second offering from the stripe was buried into the corner for an ace and 2-0 start.
After a Kessel sideout, Falknor deposited the Jasaitis pass straight to the floor on a
reverse dunk move. Back to Back kills for Wieczorek opened an early lead of 5-2 Ice.
Shorts killed a ball at 5-3 Ice, and Starkey/Poindexter responded with a block to
move to 7-4. Shorts than tallied his second kill with a hotshot sharp cross off the
defender Jones. Jasaitis saved a point for his squad on a diving coverage that turned
into a Starkey winner and 8-5 lead. Some excellent backcourt defense from LVC
couldn’t be converted and Chicago moved up to 11-6. Jones had an absolute dime
on a swerving and humming serve from Norton, which Falknor easily played to
Poindexter for the sideout. Down 13-8 and 0-2 it was again Shorts who gave a spark
with a crank off the block and well out of play. As Marshman went back to serve, the
MVP of the previous matchup (AJ Witkofsky) entered the match too. A three point
service run, including a tape ace, from Marshman was then followed up by a
Witkofsky block and just like that LVC had found life again and tied the set at 14s.
Shorts earned his own point on his service and gave LVC a much sought after lead at
16-15. A textbook defensive read and dig from Jones on a hard and steep shot from
Varee turned into another Wieczorek kill, but more importantly reclaimed the score
for the Icemen. Norton followed his transition kill with an ace serve to edge LVC up
again 21-20. A tight ball jousted well by Shorts eventually found Kessel on an
improbable back crosscourt bumpset for the score. Wieczorek once again dialed up
the service pressure resulting in an overpass and easy point for Icemen to go up 23-
22. Shorts tied it at 23 a piece as a sizzled a fifth kill through the seam. Wieczorek
then absolutely smoked a Bic ball off the LVC defender Braswell in right back to
setup a Championship point for the Chicagoans. They went to the bench and back
up setter, Ben Hancock, was called on to serve for the win. The youngster followed
his older brother’s example and came up huge sailing a floater off the LVC receiver
for the team’s 6 th ace of the match and the Championship at 25-23.
In Review: The old adage of defense wins Championships held true in this case as
the Icemen earned an advantage in Blocks (7 – 3), Digs (20 – 17), and Aces (6 -4).
Their defensive excellence limited LVC’s attackers success with no one player
reaching double digits in kills. Cody Kessel led them with 9, while Shorts had an
outstanding one set of action earning 5 kills in the limited action. LVC still hit for a
very respectable .320 efficiency as a team, yet they only had 68 totals attempts
compared to 82 for the Icemen. Chicago’s team did all the small things to extend
rallies, including recycling balls, soft block touches, and putting LVC in difficult ball
control positions. These plays within the play often led to more and better scoring
opportunities. The Falknor orchestrated offense was supremely efficient at .415. He
and his quick hitters were flawless in their connections hitting .600 for 9 combined
kills. Opposite Starkey added 9 of his own, while the two OHs were sublime with
Jones on 11 kills for .307 and Wieczorek leading all scorers with 15 kills on .650.
Their reception work coupled with Jasaitis kept the Ice in good situations all night
long. Jones played an exceptional all around game and was named Match MVP. A
fantastic team effort earned the Icemen the sweep and first VLA crown.
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