Grand Valley Gauntlet- Recap

Last weekend at the Grand Valley Gauntlet, three teams went head-to-head: GVSU, MSU, and UWP. They made for some good games and gave us a look at what to expect for the rest of the season. The following were the scores and thoughts from the day:

GVSU def UWP 10-0
GVSU def MSU 3-1
UWP def GVSU B 7-0
MSU def UWP 7-0
Alumni def GVSU 3-2 (OT)

Erik Zander– GVSU played like the GVSU I know. They played smart, fast, transitioned well, and were patient. Against MSU, they started out a little out of their element in the first point, but were able to recover quickly to secure themselves the win. They had no problem with UWP, and showed exactly how talented they are at both catching and throwing. Despite some good throws from UWP, GVSU was able to catch them at ease. This team has the talent to hang with anyone in the league and contend for another title. I’m looking forward to seeing them play in the future.

MSU is much improved from last year and you can tell they are more experienced on the court. They were catching lights out against GVSU and throwing exceptionally well. In their match against UWP they had a few points they almost lost, but were able to keep their composure, play smart, get a few catches, and turn points in their favor. I cannot wait to see MSU play GVSU again and see if they can pull off the win next time!

UWP played better than I hoped. They only had a nine-man squad going against two top five teams in the country. As a unit, I thought they had great teamwork on the court, which helped them stay close in several points. What impressed me was how often everyone looked to catch and continued to look for catches. In the game against GVSU, UWP attempted several catches and could not hold on to them. GVSU’s throws had power behind them that the Pioneers were not used to, but as the day went on they started catching more. For UWP’s match against MSU, that is where things really started clicking for this unit. Several members of the team that didn’t get to play much last year were able to showcase their talents and better understand how they will be an asset to the team. J.T. Warren was one of those guys, and he had a double digit catch game. I guess Collin Freeman (GVSU) could have taken a few pointers from him. As UWP’s coach, what impressed me most about this squad was that they still had fun even though their defeats were by big margins. This squad knows that with a full team they will be able to fill in the missing pieces from the tournament and compete with anyone.

Jacob Sebranek (UWP)- Overall, I thought we played great despite being shorthanded. We threw too many catches and had a few dropped catches against GVSU, but we caught well against GVSU-B and MSU. I thought J.T. Warren was excellent out on the court. GVSU played great, they were catching everything, communicating, and making good throws. GVSU-B, although inexperienced, communicated and worked together while making some nice catches. I thought MSU did a good job of team throwing and ball control.

Brent Weakland (MSU)- GVSU was strong as usual, their veteran players were in form, and the younger talent was making good strides. UWP made a lot of catches, which helped with their small roster this weekend. With more numbers, they will be able to capitalize on their good teamwork and could easily make some noise this year. For us, we were very strong in our first half against GVSU but made a lot of mistakes in the second half that led to our loss. We caught more than we did in our first tournament and were placing throws much better. Our rookies began to make great strides and were catching a lot and beginning to make formidable throws and catch up with the pace of the game.

Josh Hill (GVSU)- UWP was missing several players for this tournament but they played hard the entire tournament and never quit. Against GVSU, they played quick and had some good catches, but the lack of depth was very evident. MSU showed improvement from the first tournament of the year. They played quick right from the start and caught GVSU off guard. They had depth in arms and had several catches from their veterans, which gave them momentum over GVSU to get the first point and to keep the game close. GVSU got off to a slow start against MSU losing the first point, but we shook it off and focused on playing transition dodgeball. After getting more catches and playing together as a team, we were able to get the win against MSU and went into the alumni game strong. It was a back and forth game that GVSU sent to overtime with 4 seconds remaining on the clock, but the alumni pulled off the win in a very competitive game.

Final Thoughts

All the teams this weekend impressed me in terms of the way they played and the respect for one another. UWP was only able to bring nine players to this tournament. A lot of times, other teams will treat those types of games more like jokes, but GVSU and MSU played hard against Platteville’s young team, allowing them to learn and develop their skills. The sportsmanship was great as well, I even had players from both GVSU and MSU thank me for refereeing. That rarely happens, especially when you have two Michigan schools going at it, never an easy one to have to call for. It was much appreciated. These three teams are going to present challenges to other teams all season long.

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