Last week we held the first beach tournament in NSW in over a year! With 19 teams, ranging from first time participants to the current national champions, there were a range of skills out for the event.
The tournament started in a pool play format, with every team getting five games to shake off the cobwebs and battle for the highest possible seeding. There were some great performances from first time participants Built Different and Mammatus who were placed fourth and fifth respectively at the end of the pool play. Last minute partnering Hardpass were seeded third after pool play with the current national champions Sir Reginald +1 and debatably the best university team in the country, Butter and Jam completing the top of the leaderboard.
During the lunch break between pool play and the knockout bracket, we held a traditional ‘Longest Spike’ competition. The competition was led by a member of The Green Team until the second-to-last hit, when Tom from Butter and Jam snuck out in front to take home the free Spikeball hat, with a hit of 11+ metres!
After the break, the tournament entered the sudden death bracket, with games played in 3 sets, first to 15. Throughout the early rounds there weren’t too many shockwaves, though Lethal Serve and the The Green Team fought out an intense battle in the round of 16, and Go The Bream pushed Hardpass all the way in the quarterfinals, though Hardpass managed to sneak by in the end.
In Semi-final 1, Hardpass met with Sir Reginald+1. Despite an early lead in the first set, and some excellent body plays (including one off the face) by Hardpass, Sir Reginald+1 was able to pull away and take the game two sets to zero.
In Semi-final 2, Butter and Jam clashed with Mammatus, the new challengers from the Hills. An incredibly athletic game saw an ebb and flow throughout the two sets, but eventually the experience of Butter and Jam allowed them to pull away for the 2-0 victory.
Hardpass and Mammatus then met in the 3rd place play-off and it was a doozy. The first set went to overtime - with Mammatus upsetting Hardpass 17-15. Hardpass fought back in the second set to take it convincingly (12-15) and force a third set - but the exertion required for that fight back left Hardpass without the energy to continue the comeback, and Mammatus secured the final set, and third place, with a 15-11 victory.
The final will go down as one of the best matches of 2021. By agreement of both teams, each set was played to 21 points. Butter and Jam pulled away early in the first set, and the national champions struggled to get back within reaching distance, eventually falling 21-16 — the first time the national champions had ever lost a set during a knockout tournament.
The second set was a role reversal, as Sir Reginald +1 got out to an early lead, but unlike the first set, Butter and Jam were able to claw their way back into the game, late in the set, eventually levelling the scores at 20-20. What followed was an intense struggle of will power, between two exhausted teams, as each team had 5 separate chances to win the set, before Sir Reginald +1 finally took out the set 29-31.
The final set was equally enthralling, as Butter and Jam snuck out to an early lead and held that lead through to 18-15, when Sir Reginald +1 found a second wind and were able to level the game at 19-19. Butter and Jam had a match point at 20-19, but couldn’t convert, and the national champions were able to find a final push to take the set 22-20, and the game 2-1. An incredibly close game, and a warning to Sir Reginald +1, that their national title may be in danger this November.
The spike-filled day ended with a raffle-giveaway at the end of the day landed on Purple Cobra, as Purple Cobra ended up with a Spikebrite and t-shirt.
NSW has an indoor tournament coming up in June/July - Will the national champions be toppled by Butter and Jam? Or will a new challenger emerge? Stay tuned….