Club Sports News

Four Flames duos reach finals at Virginia Beach tourney

July 14, 2014  |  Virginia Beach, Va. 

Competing in its final tournament of the season, Liberty University's beach volleyball team experienced tremendous success Saturday and Sunday in Virginia Beach, winning two divisions (men's and coed) for the first time in the two-year history of the club. All seven of the Flames' entries competed in the second highest division behind the open draw.

"It was a good day for Lynchburg and for Liberty," Flames Head Coach Rachel Willis said, noting the six men's and women's tandems improved on their showings from a similar event held June 7-8. "I was really proud of them. Overall, we had a much more consistent showing across the board. We just played very well. I'm so pleased to end our season on a tournament like this."

Seniors Ethan Chase and Kaleb Van de Perre, who had never paired up as playing partners, finished first out of 13 teams in the men's tournament. They defeated Flames teammates Kevin Snyder and David Hong in the final after Snyder and Hong upset Liberty's fifth-place tandem of Mike Morrison and Aaron Brooks in the quarterfinals. Snyder and Hong reached the final by defeating a team that Hong and Ryan Culkin had lost to in the semifinals of last month's event.

Willis said the combination of tall, powerful spikers and scrappy liberos on each of the men's finalist teams worked well together.

"The things that make those two teams work well together is Kevin and Ethan are big guys with excellent reach who can really get up and put up a good block and smack balls down," Willis said. "Both David and Kaleb are quick and get a lot up in the back row. They're small guys running down balls like crazy and that's what they did."

Flames seniors Steven Fawcett and Andrew Nelson took third after falling to Chase and Van de Perre in the semifinals.

The women's bracket also featured an all-Liberty final, though the winners were the alumna tandem of Lara Bartolomeo and Jessica Nelson. The former Lady Flames indoor volleyball teammates of Willis swept past Liberty's freshmen duo of Jules Johnson and Morgan Horne to capture the title decisively.

The senior team of Kara Matthews and Morgan Jones, who won their five-team pool by going 4-0, placed third at 6-1 after losing to Johnson and Horne, 26-24, 21-17, in the semifinals. Johnson and Horne finished 6-2 overall after taking second in their pool.

Most of the rest of the 10 teams in the women's division were college-age girls looking to play Division I sand volleyball as well as local players from Virginia Beach.

"They were complimenting our girls teams, talking about how much better they were doing (since June)," Willis said. "We were hitting really well, making our cut shots, and generating lots of spikes."

She said both female tandems found ways to battle through the elements and competition to win games decided by 25-23 or 26-24 scores.

"Most of all, our girls really learned how to win, how to take our defensive plays and turn them into points," Willis said. "Last time, a lot of the games we lost were 21-19. This time, both teams came back and won those games that were really close."

Morrison and Brooks will play for Liberty's men's team and Johnson and Horne will represent the Lady Flames at the July 24 National Collegiate Sand Volleyball Association (NCSVA) national championships in Long Beach, Calif.

On Sunday, Brooks joined Horne to capture first place in the co-ed division of the Virginia Beach tournament, after placing second in the field last month.

Beach Volleyball Links
Jun 5, 9:00 AM - Cary, NC
Beach Volleyball
Blue Sky
Beach Volleyball
at Blue Sky
Jun 5, 9:00 AM - Cary, NC

Beach Volleyball
at Southern Sand-Powerade State Games
Jun 11, 9:00 AM - Apex, NC

Beach Volleyball
at Virginia Beach Big Money
Jul 9, 9:00 AM - Virginia Beach, VA

Beach Volleyball
at Wilmington Volleyball Series
Jul 16, 9:00 AM - Wilmington, NC

Beach Volleyball
at Nationals
Jul 23, 9:00 AM - Santa Monica, CA

Full Schedule

Apr 30
Beach Volleyball
vs. Home Collegiate
Willis/Evans - 1st

Apr 9
Beach Volleyball
vs. Beach South
Horne/Wiese - 2nd

Oct 17
Beach Volleyball
vs. Home Tournament
1st Place

Jul 25
Beach Volleyball
at NCSVA National Championship
MO: 5th WO: 9th

Jul 18
Beach Volleyball
at Wilmington Series
MN 3rd, WMN 3rd

More Recaps