The Whistler Outdoor Volleyball Association (WOVA) wrapped up another fantastic season last week by crowning playoff champions in each of the beach league’s four divisions, including one squad that repeated as champs and another that saw a dramatic mid-season turnaround.
In the competitive, two-on-two ‘A’ division playing on Tuesday nights at Rainbow Park, the duo of Rik Parker and Jesse James captured the title after finishing the regular season in first place.
Parker was named the season’s most valuable player across all WOVA divisions, while James was selected as most improved. WOVA president Scott Rogers also gave an honourable mention to Joey Facciolo’s efforts to improve his play this season.
Paired together for the first time this year, Rogers said Parker and James complemented each other well on the court.
“Jesse stands 6-foot-6 and is very athletic,” said Rogers. “Rik Parker is a phenomenally strong fundamental player … and having Rik and Jesse play together really helped Jesse develop his game.”
In the Thursday ‘B’ division, featuring three-on-three play, Serve-Ace-Ah completed an undefeated season in winning the season title, knocking off Rogers’s team, Dirt Digglers, in a three-set final.
Rogers said there were six or seven teams with a realistic chance of capturing the division. Serve-Ace-Ah had an impressive campaign led by captain Amanda Barchuk.
“Amanda is one of the strongest players in the league, and arguably the top female player,” said Rogers. “The way she directs her team has a really significant impact on the way they come together and perform.”
Block and Roll, captained by Ryan Cooling and featuring a number of Sundial Hotel employees, went on a late-season tear to win the Monday ‘C’ division playing four-on-four. The team went winless through the first several weeks of the season but was unstoppable down the stretch.
“They sort of shifted gears … and finished off winning their last six weeks in a row,” said Rogers. “They seemed to carry their momentum from the end of the season right to the end.”
Block and Roll beat out the No. 1-seeded Fighting Irish in a close final match.
In the other ‘C’ divison playing Fridays, Pepper Spray repeated as champions. Captain Paul van den Berg kept his winning roster intact from last year, leading to another championship season.
“Obviously the team chemistry works amazingly well for them,” said Rogers.
Other than some minor tweaks, Rogers said he expects WOVA to operate in 2014 much as it did this summer, and noted that players are already getting pumped up for next season.
“With the wrap-up parties for each division, a lot of people were already talking about their excitement for next year,” said Rogers. “It’s always encouraging to hear that people are already looking forward to next season just as we’ve finished up this one.”
Rogers also tipped his cap to the municipality for keeping the courts in excellent shape all season, noting that visitors coming up from the Lower Mainland have been commenting regularly on the quality of the Rainbow Park playing area.
“(The RMOW) did a phenomenal job,” said Rogers. “Rainbow Park has become a destination for volleyball players when they come up to Whistler because they know the facilities are so outstanding.”