Good partners bring some repeat titles
Vail CO Colorado
VAIL ” Jamey Martin has found his two-year touch again. Martin, along with partner Neil Rooney, won the King of the Mountain volleyball men’s open divison for the second year in a row Sunday in Vail.
Martin and Rooney beat Loric Box and Adam Rubel in the finals, 21-19, 21-14. With the win, Martin picked up his victory in five years. Two years ago, Martin was second with partner and longtime local Ryan Post. The two years prior to that, Martin and Post were the champions.
This year, Martin and Rooney used the strategy that kept Martin and Post from a three-peat in 2005. Coming into the finals, Box and Rubel had played four games in a row without a break. Early in the match, Rooney and Martin saw Rubel come up limping after a point.
“He looked like he hurt his ankle, so we played the ball to him,” Rooney said.
In 2005, the pair that beat Martin and Post attacked a tired and beat-up Post en route to a 21-5, 21-14 shelling.
A tired Rubel did anything but roll over and came up with several big spikes in both games.
In the first game, Martin and Rooney built an early lead, going up,10-6, before Box and Rubel tied the game at 12. After Martin and Rooney won the next three points, Box and Rubel won the next four, taking their only lead of the match. Trailing, 20-18, Box staved off a game point with a hard spike. On the next point, the hard-hitting Martin lined up for a spike on the left end of the net and then deftly slipped the ball past the block to the right corner on the other side of the net for game point.
Martin and Rooney pulled away early in the second game and played solid together to close things out.
“That’s the great thing about rally scoring,” Martin said. “If you have a good lead, you can just sideout all the time.”
In all but one of their matches, Martin and Rooney needed two games to dispatch opponents. The only game the defending champions lost was their first one of the tourney Saturday morning.
“I went out and had a good time Friday night,” Martin said.
The winning pair, hailing from Littleton, won their second tourney of the year. As for next year, they hope to defend their King of the Mountain title as a pair again.
“(Neil) is having a kid, so hopefully his wife lets him play,” Martin said.
Box and Rubel, the New Mexico pair, came in ranked No. 7 among the 24 teams, and had a long road to the finals after an early loss. Following several hard-fought wins, Box and Rubel earned the chance to avenge their early loss when they played the same team that beat them the first day in Sunday’s semifinals.
Deb Ponis defended her King of the Mountain title from last year, but with a different partner. Ponis, of Arvada, and Dawn Tischauser, of Denver, won the women’s open division in three games against Andrea Hatcher, of Denver, and Erin Lehman, of Longmont.
Ponis and Tischauser, who have already proved their worth as a pair this year by winning a tourney before the King of the Mountain, had one of their toughest tests of the weekend in the finals. Hatcher and Lehman, playing on the sand for the first time, won the second game, but couldn’t keep up with Ponis and Tischauser in the third and deciding game.
With another title under their belts, Ponis and Tischauser hope to grab another at the Motherlode Volleyball tournament in Aspen on Labor Day weekend.
“I’m hoping that (Dawn) can carry me on her back,” Ponis joked after their match.
This year’s King of the Mountain featured 311 teams across 22 divisions.
“I’m ecstatic,” said tourney organizer Leon Fell. “I took this over six years ago with the goal of getting steady growth to get it back to its glory days of the mid-80s. It’s steadily grown every year.”
The father-son and father-daughter divisions ” which has been more of a novelty group of divisions in the past ” had 46 teams this year, almost triple the number from last year.
Among top finishers were two teams of local players, Stephanie Caretto and Jennifer Adkins, of Edwards (second in the women’s BB division), along with Shawn and Shelby Weathered, of Eagle (second in the father-daughter 14-and-under). Chris Lynn, of Vail, was first in the Men’s B division with his partner Chad Lynn, of Chattanooga, Tenn.
“It’s a lot of fun to have local talent to do well in these events,” Fell said.
Winners of the boys and girls junior divisions received automatic bids to the USA Volleyball Junior Beach Tour Finals in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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