Stalls, Zerebockyj drive to title in Vail
VAIL – The peanut gallery at the King of the Mountain Volleyball Tournament is always a creative bunch, and Sunday was no exception.
Thinking that Jon Stalls of Denver, playing in the men’s open final with Westminster’s Mykolai Zerebockyj, bore an uncanny resemblance to 80s rocker Sammy Hagar, anytime Stalls did something at the Vail Athletic Field, the fans, started yelling, “I can’t Drive 55.”
“It’s classic,” Stalls said. “It works. It fires me up. It’s fun to be a character out there.”
Stalls and Zerebockyj presumably drove 55, 65 or 75 mph, as state law dictates, back down to the Front Range after capturing the men’s open title, 21-15, 21-18, Sundayover the defending champs, Ryan Post and Jamey Martin.
“Post and Martin are really good players,” Zerebockyj said. “It was exciting to play them and beat them. They won last year and Jamey (was part of the team that) won the year before. It was good to take it.”
Both teams had plenty of power on the attack – Martin is well-known force at the net and Stalls proved to be his equal – but it was defense that won the match for the Stalls and Zerebockyj.
The duo covered the sand with aplomb and if necessary took out a sponsorship sign along the far side of the court as Stalls did in Game 2.
“I’ve worked a lot on pressing over the net and Myk has worked a lot on digging and so we just played to our strengths and we just stuck to it,” Stalls said.
Stalls and Zerebockyj came through the winner’s bracket to the men’s open final, and like many other teams in both the men’s an women’s opens, survived a wet and rainy Saturday to enjoy the limelight of Sunday.
“It changes everything,” Zerebockyj said of Saturday’s conditions. “The ball holds water, so it just changes the weight of it. It changes the game besides the fact it’s just cold and hard to play in.”
Knopf and Wilper the Queens
Keeping the musical theme, let’s move back five years – “I Can’t Drive 55 was released in 1984 – to the Peaches and Herbs’ hit song of 1979, “Reunited.”
That was the theme for Angela Knopf and Krista Wilper who returned to the winner’s circle at the King of the Mountain women’s open for the first time in six years with a 21-16, 21-13 victory over Ashley Kaineta and Meghan Barkman.
This was the first time Knopf, of Fort Collins, and Wilper (nee Swartendruber), of Golden, had played together since a win at the Aspen MotherLode in September 2005.
“It’s like riding a bike. You can get out there and things just click,” Wilper said.” You know where she’s going to be and what she’s going to do and how things work. Things fell right back into synch. That makes a huge difference in the chemistry between you.”
Though both have been regulars at this tournament, Sunday was five years and one day to the date of their last King of the Mountain crown together in 2004.
“She just had a kid (Aidan, 9-months-old) like eight months (sic) ago, so she was a rock star,” Knopf said of Wilper. “I feel really lucky to be in Colorado and be a part of a family.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
King of the Mountain results
1. Gabriella Rifiloto and Katherine Rifiloto, Bayfield
2. Mirayla Shippey and Kenzie Shippey, Pueblo
1. Janae Vanderploeg and Hannah Huffman, Colorado Springs
2. Sarah Kosbab and Kristen Lee, Colorado Springs
1. Larry McDonald and Brent McDonald, Rocklin, Calif.
2. Tony Garcia and Phil Hultquist, Albequerque, N.M.
1. Dave Drozd,, Glenwood Springs and Alan Prater, Carbiondale
2. Jason Stoll, Rochester, Minn., and Ryan Armbruster, Castle Rock
1. Josh Fivgas and Jason Ring, Denver
2. Curtis Oliver, Santa Barbara, Calif., and Cody Dunston, Denver
1. Katlelyn Laphan, Colorado Springs, and Lindsey Larson, Witchita, Kans.
2. Shelli Shideler and McKenzie Nelson-Buehler, Glenwood Springs
1. Andrea Wyant, Parker, and Lindsey Strickland, Lakewood
2. Claire Patten, Boulder, and Lauren Bloch, Denver
1. Maria Marion-Hultquist and Alex Tennison, Alb
2. Colleen Irwin and Rosalyn Adkison, Denver
1. Jim and Trevor Burr, Littleton
2. Mark and Jordan Rich, Arvada
1. Kyle and Brady Stokes, Colorado Springs
2. Bruce and Mitchell Decker, Parker
1. John and Lars Basey, Lyons
2. Marty Broaddus and Caleb Barker, Lakewood
1. Rodell and Lauren Alejo, Monument
2. Terri and Bethany Beachey, Longmont
1. Jack and Monique Domme, Colorado Springs
2. Chris and Breanna McFarlin, Golden
1. Rock and MacKenzie Swan, Colorado Springs
2. Chris and Bria Sweeney, Colorado Springs
1. Rocky and Rachel Pearson, Denver
2. Chris and Alex Avila, Castle Rock