May 28, 2022 14:00 PM PST
Battle of the Unbeatens Ends with Freedom on Top
Team Freedom took the advantage over the previously undefeated Texas Tyrants, who were missing their defensive stud Jose Mulero. With the Tyrants having to resort to middles and setters to fill the position, Freedom was able to take a 3-2 win in Pearce on the first day of play for Event 3.
Set one saw Freedom maximizing their scouting report from the serving line. With an early battle leading to an 8-8 tie, Freedom began to pull away off some serve to receive struggles and ball-handling errors from the Tyrants. A kill from Gian Grasso brought the set within two at 13-11, but a serving run from Matt Seifert would extend the Freedom lead to five, forcing a Tyrant timeout at 11-16. Daniel Jacobs would get a run at the service line for the Tyrants before a defiant kill by Joe Norman ended the run. Norman and Tim Ferriter would complete the set on the service line, combining six aces, taking the stage 25-15.
Set two started slowly with a challenge call on the very first point of the game. Both teams would exchange points in some long rallies, with Freedom taking an 8-6 lead off a Doug Dzema kill. A Gabriel Quinones service run and a massive solo block on Norman by Jake Langlois would start a Tyrant run to take a 9-8 lead. Ian Capp would bring the game back to a tie on the service line at 11-11, but some scrappy defense from Tyrant's middle/libero Andrew Pearson would help push the Tyrant lead to two at 16-14. A few Capp serves kept the set close at 16-18 before back-to-back kills from Grasso and Langlois would extend the Tyrant lead to four at 21-17, forcing a Freedom timeout. A Norman kill would stop the run; however, it wouldn't be enough, as a Grasso kill would end the set 25-19.
Set three started with Langlois on a quick service run, taking a 4-1 lead off a Grasso kill. A Seifert kill would end the run, allowing Freedom to begin to chip away. The Tyrant block began to slow Freedom's offense, while a Langlois kill forced a Freedom timeout at 8-3. The Tyrants would remain even-keeled and consistent, continuing to side out and maximize Freedom's unforced errors to take a 14-7 lead. Freedom would continue to struggle to string points together while the Tyrant's offense continued to produce. Tyrants would take the set 25-17, hitting 0.333, while Freedom would only hit 0.250.
Down 2-1, Freedom came out hot, taking a commanding 6-0 lead off of a Matt Elias service run and a string of Norman points to force a Tyrant timeout. A Langlois kill ended the run; however, Freedom continued to build their lead and pull through long rallies despite some stellar Tyrant defense. A 6-2 Tyrant sub would help cut the Freedom lead to three and force a Freedom timeout at 15-12. Some innovative offensive distribution from Elias would help push the lead back to four at 17-13 before a string of unforced Freedom errors and a Langlois kill tied the match at 19-19. The Tyrant block seemed to put the game away, leading 24-22, but a Quinones service error and a Norman-Dzema block would tie the match at 24-24. The teams would continue the nail-biter through extra points, with a Dzema kill and Jacobs hitting error allowing Freedom to take the set 27-25 and tie the match 2-2.
Freedom continued their momentum into the fifth and final set, starting on a 4-0 run with a couple of Capp and Norman kills. The Tyrants struggled to put an offense together, working with serve receive and hitting errors to extend the Freedom lead to 8-2 at the court change. The Texas boys managed to string together a few points despite Freedom dropping the lead less than six the rest of the match as they swiftly and efficiently finished the match 15-8. The Tyrants seemed to lose all their steam, unable to stop Freedom's hitting at a whopping 0.625 compared to the Tyrants' 0.000.
Joe Norman and Ian Capp would combine for 39 kills to share Co-Man of the Match honors. Freedom would finish the match, hitting 0.333, while the Tyrants would finish at 0.268. The Tyrants would out block Freedom, however, 16 to 14. The game pushed Freedom to a 5-0 record on the year while the Tyrants fell to 4-1.
- NVA Staff Writer
#16 - Joe Norman - 28 Points (20 Kills, 5 Blocks, 3 Aces)
#4 - Ian Capp - 21 Points (19 Kills, 2 Aces)
#7 - Tim Ferriter - 10 Points (7 Kills, 3 Aces)
#10 - Jake Langlois - 22 Points (17 Kills, 4 Blocks, 1 Ace)
#9 - Gian Grasso - 18 Points (15 Kills, 3 Blocks)
#16 - Daniel Jacobs - 11 Points (9 kills, 2 Aces)