Dave Palm/Eric Zaun and Raquel Ferreira/Karolina Marciniak, the No 1 seeds, held up the winners’ checks Saturday, as the NVL returned to the deep sand of Hermosa Beach.

Ferreira/Marciniak have established their dominance on the NVL tour, earning the top spot in three of four events this year. They beat Kimberly Hildreth/Maryna Samoday in the final 21-18, 21-17, serving NVL rookie Samoday repeatedly.

Hildreth, Marciniak’s partner a year ago at Hermosa, did her best to disrupt the Ferreira/Marciniak team, but the pair were smooth and steady, and capitalized on the occasional error. Hildreth/Samoday have made steady improvement this season, appearing in their second consecutive final.

“I think that patience and following our strategy was the key from the very beginning,” Marciniak said.

Maryna Samoday spikes against Karolina Marciniak in the women's final/Ed Chan photo
Maryna Samoday spikes against Karolina Marciniak in the women’s final/Ed Chan photo

“There are five or seven teams that could be in the finals every stop. The tour is improving. For us to stay on the top we have to constantly push each other to be the best and try and be better than we were yesterday. That’s a great motivation for us.”

Ferreira/Marciniak further put their stamp on the tournament in the semifinals with a revenge 21-10, 21-16 win over Anne Osburn/Megan Rice, who beat them in their last meeting in the San Antonio final.

Notable results on the women’s side:

With Kristen Batt-Rohr injured, Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima went deep into the Rolodex the day before the tournament to find former partner Angela Lewis Akers. They hadn’t played together since 2008.

The duo surprised themselves with a fifth-place finish.

“I’ve been playing fours for the last two or three months, I haven’t played doubles for about a year and a half. I can’t believe I made it so far. It’s fun,” Akers said. “Obviously some experience and chemistry can get you a long way.”

Asked if this is a comeback, Akers and Lima both belly laughed, before Akers replied, “Oh, hell no.”

The 5-foot-9 Chara Harris and 5-10 Kaley Melville, playing “small ball,” found the crosswinds and deep sands of Hermosa Beach to their liking, finishing seventh.

On the men’s side, Palm/Zaun hoisted their trophies for the second time in Hermosa Beach after a 21-18, 21-13 win over qualifiers Adam Cabbage and John Moran.

“We knew we had to push hard and capitalize early,” Palm said. “They were a little tired, coming from the qualifier. We knew they were a little gassed with the three additional matches. We knew we had to come out strong and bring it to them.”

Moran ran out of gas in the second game, and had to send Cabbage up to block late in the second game, after battling through three days of dedicated blocking in the unusually hot Southern California temperatures.

“We were definitely fresher than they were,” Zaun said. “I’ve been working with Divine Health and Workt and it really made a difference down the stretch.”

Palm/Zaun nearly had their repeat bid thwarted in the semifinals, down 15-20 in game two. Palm went into what Zaun calls beast mode: “That was the Dave Palm show. Palm big dogged, as we like to say.”

Palm/Zaun scored seven consecutive points to win the match.

“I think I was a little possessed,” Palm said. “It was crazy. They left the door open, and we definitely took advantage of that.” The win is the first for Palm/Zaun this year, after seconds in San Antonio and Columbus.

Notable results on the men’s side:

The new pairing of John-Michael Plummer/Christopher Vaughan established themselves as a contender, finishing third.

Three qualifiers made it to the final seven on Saturday: Adam Cabbage/John Moran (second), Cody Kessel/David Smith (seventh), and Christopher Long/Kyle Stevenson (seventh).

The NVL’s next stop is Virginia Beach, August 26-28.

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