Dejesus, Knepper win all-LU Mid-Atlantic men's beach final
April 27, 2019 | Lynchburg, Va.
The third-year beach tandem of Gene Dejesus and Kaden Knepper overcame fellow Liberty University men's volleyball senior teammates Zach Martyn and Joel Slaughter in the Gold Bracket championship match at Saturday's NCSVA Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament hosted by Liberty for the second straight spring on East Campus and at the Liberty Mountain Intramural Complex.
"It was another good season-ending event, seeing a lot of teams from other schools," Liberty Head Coach Kaleb VanDePerre said. "Hopefully, we will do it a little bigger and better next year."
Fresh off leading the Flames' Division I indoor volleyball team to a program-best top-four finish at the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) Championships April 18-20 in Denver, Knepper and Dejesus swept Martyn and Slaughter, 21-14, 21-9, in the final.
Both Martyn and Slaughter and Flames senior Matt Jones and freshman Joshua Knapp finished pool play undefeated. Jones and Knapp, who will join Knepper and Dejesus at the May 10-12 USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach National Championships in Hermosa Beach, Calif., were upset in the first round of playoffs by UNC Chapel Hill's Pablo Portes and Aaron Darden, 21-19.
Knepper and Dejesus opened tournament play by topping North Carolina State's George Skenteris and Tate Jones, 21-13, before ousting UNC's Austin Banks and Devin Johnson, 21-18, 21-14, in the semifinals.
Liberty did not qualify any of its women's duos for nationals, or the finals of Saturday's Gold Bracket, which pitted two Tar Heels pairs who eliminated two Lady Flames tandems in the semifinals.
|Lady Flames freshman Jenae Baker digs during Saturday's NCSVA Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament.|
UNC's Amanda Jenkins and Lee Ann Lucas defeated Lady Flames junior Alyssa Register and freshman Marabeth Hammersmith, 21-18, in the quarterfinals before knocking out Meghan Todd and Courtney Fukumitsu, 21-13, 21-13, in the semis. Meanwhile, Maredith Devlin and Cass Michal upended Liberty junior Olivia Jensen and senior Amanda Lyons, 21-18, 21-15, in the other semifinal.
"Meg and Courtney played really well to get to the semis," Van DePerre said. "They showed the most improvement on the year. Olivia and Amanda didn't play their best but still had chances to win. UNC played really well and put the best teams together when it mattered most."
Complete bracket results are available online.
Then on Sunday, Liberty hosted a co-ed tournament with 35 teams of mixed doubles players, with 14 competing in the open bracket and 21 in the AA bracket. It was Liberty's biggest co-ed tournament to date.
Hammersmith and Flames junior Daniel Koloff defeated Jensen and senior Brady Quakenbush in the open championship match and former Liberty beach player Rachel Weaver teamed up with freshman indoor setter Tommy Speelman to top junior Courtney Fukumitsu and David Brockman in the AA final.
Knepper and Dejesus and Jones and Knapp will work with Virginia women's indoor volleyball Assistant Coach Hudson Bates, who played professionally on the AVP Tour from 2007-2016, before flying to California next week. They are two of 16 men's tandems and another 50 women's pairs registered for the national tournament.