This weekend Central Michigan University hosted the King of the Mountain dodgeball tournament. At this event we saw schools from Michigan, Ohio, and even Wisconsin in attendance. There were a lot of questions heading into the event, and I came away with quite a bit of insight on the teams that made the trip to Mt. Pleasant for a great tournament. Below I have the scores from the tournament and some of my takeaways from the event as a whole:
Most Dominant Team:
I would have to give the nod to Central Michigan for this. The Chippewas didn’t have their full varsity squad in attendance, yet they won all their games by shutout. CMU had no trouble putting away the three Ohio teams while Wisconsin Platteville gave them the most trouble but still fell to the Chips 4-0. This was certainly a bounce back weekend for the Chippewas, and they reached #1 in the national standings following this performance.
Breakout Performer(s): Jacob Devine (GVSU) & Nick Hazergian (SVSU)
I’ll start with my teammate Jacob Devine. This rookie had a solid tournament, probably making more catches on Saturday than any other player in the building. Devine is only a rookie, but his strong performance earned him a spot on GVSU’s overtime roster when they were playing SVSU at the end of the day.
Another player in that overtime game between SVSU and GVSU was rookie #71 Nick Hazergian for the Cardinals. This guy is quickly becoming one of the top throwers in the Michigan Region and he proved that time and time again vs. GVSU. Despite Saginaw falling in OT, Nick Hazergian had a stellar performance.
Most Underrated Performer: Cole Kraft (Akron)
Cole had a fantastic tournament. In GVSU’s game against Akron (which was pretty enjoyable despite not being a close contest) Cole stood out to me as one of their better players. He is a great all-around talent with good instincts throwing the ball and great catching skills. One of the hardest players to get out, Cole Kraft is certainly going to make a name for himself in this league. I asked him after our match what grade he was in and he said freshmen, which is good news for Akron, and bad news for the rest of the NCDA.
Most Improved Team(s): Kent State & Wisconsin Platteville
This is a tie in my opinion. UWP looked significantly better in this tournament than they did in the fall when they came to GVSU. They are still a young team, but there is some serious potential due to how well they play together as a team.
Kent State is an interesting situation in my opinion. These guys have some serious talent! The top half of their roster is as good as any team in the country. The main issue that Kent came across in their matches against GVSU and CMU was just lack of organization on the court. Trust me, come Nationals this team will be dangerous. They are maybe the best catching team outside of the state of Michigan in the NCDA right now.
Most Exciting Game: GVSU def. SVSU 3-2 (OT)
Easiest decision by far. This one goes to the final match of the day between GVSU and SVSU. The first half began with a 10 minute point won by GVSU. Not much drama in the first point of the match as GVSU won it handily. The second point was much different.
Point 2 of this instant classic took all but 20 seconds of the remaining time in the first half as SVSU stormed back with only a few players left to take GVSU down to the ten-count and eventually to a 3-2 SVSU man advantage. From here, GVSU Assistant Captain Ben Tubergen and Aaron VanFleteren became the heroes for GVSU as they got 3 kills in about a 30 second span against three of SVSU’s top players in order to lock up a 2-0 lead at half.
The second half of this one was a bit crazy. The first few minutes of the half started slow as neither team could get many quick outs but eventually the pace sped up. With both teams near the ten-count, Saginaw took control and made it 2-1 with plenty of time left. After this SVSU stormed out of the gate in the next point and with a combination of well timed throws and stellar catching, the Cardinals tied it with 7 minutes remaining. At this point both teams played hectic to try to win in regulation, but neither group got down to the ten-count at the buzzer.
While the CMU vs. MSU OT game a week earlier was a thriller, this one had little drama. GVSU picked off Saginaw’s players one by one to claim the victory with all but one of their overtime 6 left on the court. Bottom line here is that this was another amazing chapter in the Battle of the Valleys rivalry. I can not wait to see what goes down at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup on February 27th!