On Saturday, September 26th Grand Valley State University played host to Saginaw Valley State and Wisconsin Platteville in an early season round robin tournament. GVSU went 2-0 on the day with SVSU splitting 1-1 and UWP going 0-2. The following is a quick recap with my reactions from this event.
First off, I don’t want to discount UWP at all. This group was unable to bring a full roster to the tournament held at GVSU, and they struggled because of it. I think the majority of UWP’s team was rookie players.
One player of note for UWP was #8 Matt Bautch. He was easily the hardest thrower in the building. Beyond that he also put on an impressive catching display in both his games, proving why he is one of the best all-around players in the NCDA.
I give a lot of credit to the Pioneers of Wisconsin Platteville for traveling to GVSU for this tournament. They certainly will benefit from the experience and improve as a team. While they certainly are not a strong team juts yet, I am excited to see how they progress as the season wears on.
Saginaw Valley played much better than I anticipated heading into this tournament. The Cardinals unfortunately were missing Kyle Foster at this tournament, but they still played great.
The top performers for SVSU were the usual ones such as Cody Putnam, Joe McCumber, Bernabe Salinas, and Andrew Miller, but what caught my attention most about this team was the solid effort that I saw from their rookies. SVSU came to GVSU with a number of first year players and many of them already were playing quality dodgeball.
Lastly, my team GVSU had a bounce back weekend vs. SVSU and UWP. With an overtime victory over SVSU and a rout of UWP, the Lakers seem back on the right track.
Youth and inexperience certainly was on display this tournament, especially vs. SVSU, but despite that, GVSU was able to preserve a victory.
Grand Valley will be back in action next weekend as they host MSU in a doubleheader on Sunday, Oct. 4th.
Game of the Tournament
It’s a pretty easy choice of which game was the best of this particular tournament. Grand Valley’s overtime victory over Saginaw Valley will likely end up being one of the most exciting games all year when it’s all said and done.
GVSU started out the game very well, taking point #1 about halfway through the first half. This point was pretty easily won by GVSU, and it seemed like a dominant performance was in the works.
SVSU stopped any thought of a rout in the second point, as they made quick work of GVSU. With five minutes left in the first half it was tied 1-1. The final five minutes were not enough for either team to gain a point, with GVSU dropping SVSU down to six players but no further before the buzzer sounded.
The second half began with a much slower point than usual. SVSU and GVSU went back and forth for several minutes before SVSU began to gain a slight man advantage. once GVSU was down to only a few players, Saginaw utilized their fantastic team throwing to take out some of GVSU’s top players and grab a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
The final point of regulation was the fastest paced point of the tournament, and certainly a nail-biter. Grand Valley was forced to play extremely aggressive in their attempt to close out SVSU and force overtime. The Lakers seemed to be too aggressive at times and they left themselves open to get hit in transition.
With under five minutes to go GVSU used a timeout to reorganize, as they had yet to bring SVSU down to the ten-count. After the timeout, the Lakers played better strategically as they connected on a few team throws as well as forcing SVSU players into transition outs.
With under a minute to play SVSU had three players left, but thanks to clutch play by GVSU’s Tyler Kowalk, the Lakers took out several Cardinal players and finally made a catch on the last man standing with 12 second remaining.
Overtime was anything but close, as the top six players for GVSU took control of the game and finished off SVSU with their entire OT roster still on the court.
My main takeaway from this match is that the Michigan Region will be very very interesting this season. If you thought the Michigan schools were close in skill level a year ago, you will be shocked to see what it’s like this season. There is no telling who ends the season as the top team in Michigan, as all four schools have shown potential thus far.