The NVL Texas Championships starts June 23rd at Sideliner’s Grill in San Antonio. Let’s see what the top seeds look like for the second stop of the 2016 tour:
There’s less movement in the women’s seeds, so well start there:
No. 1 Raquel Ferreira/Karolina Marciniak: This team came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, winning the first stop at Port St. Lucie. They have set a strong pace that other teams must match. At PSL, both Ferreira/Marciniak were individually in mid-season form, but lacked integration as a team, which hurt them occasionally on out of system plays. Once they hit their stride they will be tough to beat.
No. 2 Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima/Kristen Batt-Rohr: If any team is to unseat Ferreira/Marciniak consistently, this is the team. They have the firepower, the skills, and the experience.
I love coming to Texas because I lived in Louisiana for almost nine years, said Lima. It feels so close from my second home. The hot weather and humidity is my favorite, believe it or not. Im actually really looking forward to stepping on the court with Kristen again. She’s such a hard worker and now that we dont get to practice together I truly miss training with her.
The women’s side is getting stronger and stronger each stop, so being able to sustain the high physical level will definitely be our biggest challenge as the more experienced/older team. Our goal is to always bring the best volleyball we have and to always fight and compete while having a blast. It’s been a blessing playing by her side.
At PSL, they were not in top form. When they are, they will most certainly challenge at the top.
No. 3 Mannari/Nyquist: This team is young and has ability. Mannari’s defense and Nyquist’s blocking are steadily improving. This team will likely break through sometime this year, although it’s more likely to happen in deep sand than in manmade sand courts.
No. 4 Snyder/Harris: 2015 Best Blocker Snyder can get in the heads of opposing offenses.
I am so excited to make my game bigger and better in Texas!, said Harris. Thanks to Vibram Five Fingers, Tru-Spec, Floridita, Kastel Denmark, and Vega for sponsoring me and helping me excel on and off the court!
Harris plays scrappy defense behind the block. They were disappointed with their fifth-place finish in PSL, so look for them to turn it up in San Antonio.
Teams to watch:
No. 5 Michelle Williams/Molly Menard: Williams/Menard have been steadily improving and finished fifth at PSL. NVL CFO Menard celebrated her birthday Wednesday and look for her to earn herself a present.
No. 6 Anne Osburn/Megan Rice: This is one of the most powerful teams on the tour. Their run was halted in the semifinals at PSL. Osburn hits a heavy ball, while Rice possesses the vertical reach to challenge hitters constantly. They have the physical tools to bring them into a final this year.
No. 9 Mariko Coverdale/Chelsea Hayes: This team is hungry after their ninth-place finish at PSL. Coverdale is a force at the net and Hayes is one of the tour’s best defenders. At PSL they didnt transition well enough at the highest levels; look for them to amp it up and contend in the semifinals.
By contrast, the men’s field is deep and unpredictable. There are six or seven teams that could make the finals. The field is so deep that last event’s champions, Mike DiPierro/Steve Grotowski, are the No. 7 seeds this week.
No. 1 Dave Palm/Eric Zaun: Zaun is back from Vietnam, and that means trouble for the field. Palm/Zaun won in Seattle and Hermosa last year. Palm is an excellent blocker with good ball control skills. Zaun is one of the new class of taller more powerful defenders with superior transition abilities.
We are extremely excited to be out here competing in the San Antonio heat., said Zaun. The Southwest is my favorite region. The plan is to pick up where we left off last year and get in the booth!
No. 2 Skylar DelSol/Piotr Marciniak: DelSol/Marciniak finished third in PSL, below their expectations. This team won the Madeira Beach and PSL stops in 2015. DelSol won the Kings of the Mountain event last weekend in Vail with Cody Kessel, so he is ready to ball.
No. 3 Jeff Samuels/Travis Schoonover: This team finished third at PSL in their first event together, so they have plenty of upside potential. Schoonover is one of the best defenders on the tour, and not only digs his share of balls, but transitions aggressively. Samuels has hops and is a match-up problem for many teams.
No. 4 Drew Mallin/Jon Mesko: This is a brand new team for San Antonio. Mallin is a speedy defender who hungers for a championship, He has five second-place finishes but no victories. Mesko reads hitters as well as any blocker on the tour. This team is difficult to beat and easy to lose to, so opponents need to bring their A games.
Teams to watch:
No. 7 Mike DiPierro/Steven Grotowski: This team won PSL on experience. DiPierro’s ambidextrous style frustrated blockers, while possessing the hand-eye coordination to adeptly dig screaming spikes. Grotowski, a 2012 Olympian and top player for years, plays big at the net and performs all the little skills well.
No. 9 Martin Caban/Petr Doubravsky: This team may have played the highest level volleyball at PSL. Caban played flat-out defense, Doubravsky enforced his will at the net, and they launched missile after missile at opposing defenses. Unfortunately for them, they came up a few points short in the PSL finals, a problem they hope to rectify in San Antonio.
Q21 Michael Boag/Jorge Martinez: Boag is an athletic blocker who can alter opposing offenses. Martinez is a scrappy defender. If this team gets through the qualifier, main draw teams should not underestimate them.
Brackets can be found here:
7:00 AM- Pro Qualifiers Play
6:00 PM- Pro Main Draw Meeting
7:00 PM- Corporate Challenge
8:00 AM- Pro Main Draw Morning Wave
5:00 PM- Pro Main Draw Afternoon Wave
6:00 PM VIP & Adult Pro Beach Volleyball Clinic
8:30 PM- Player Party at Sideliners Grill
9:00 AM- Pro Main Draw Morning Wave
5:30 PM Women’s Semi-Finals
6:00 PM 7:00 PM- Free Elite NVL RIZE Juniors Clinic
6:30 PM- Men’s Semi-Finals
7:30 PM- Women’s Finals
8:30 PM- Men’s Finals
9:00 PM Finale Party at Sideliners Grill