For local, tournament is one tough mother to win | AspenTimes.com

For local, tournament is one tough mother to win

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado

Angela Knopf, left, and Dawn Tischauser battle at the net in the MotherLode women's open final on Labor Day 2005 at Koch Lumber Park. (Aspen Times file)

ASPEN It would seem that Catie Mintz finally has the partner to win the hometown tournament that has eluded her for so many years.Angela Knopf isn’t only Mintz’s former teammate from their days as All-Americans at CSU, she’s also played in five consecutive MotherLode women’s open finals. That includes last year, when she blasted shot after shot past Mintz and Kelly Rowe to take her third Lode title with then-partner Carrie Wright.For Mintz, a former standout at Aspen High School who has been playing professional volleyball for the past seven years while based out of Los Angeles, 2006 was the first time she made it to the MotherLode final in five tries. Now that she’s returning to Aspen with Knopf as her partner, Mintz acknowledged she has her best chance yet to finally hoist the trophy her family members and friends so desperately want her to have.

“The MotherLode is interesting,” said Mintz, a fifth-generation Aspenite whose maiden name is Vagneur. “I think, more than other tournaments, there is a just little bit more pressure for me. I would love to win it, and it may be that I’m just putting that pressure on myself in front of family and friends because of that.”The road back to the final for Mintz and Knopf – the 17th ranked tandem on the AVP women’s tour – won’t be easy. The two players they individually partnered with last year – Rowe and Wright – now play together on the Extreme Volleyball Professionals circuit, and will be in Aspen this weekend.”They have had a stellar year, winning most of those tournaments,” Mintz said.A number of players who Mintz and Knopf compete against on the AVP tour also will be in Aspen for what is the nation’s largest pro-am.

That includes Chrissie Zartman and her partner, Tiffany Rodriguez. Zartman, who comes from a family of beach volleyball players, is one of the most exciting players on the pro tour at just 5 feet, 3 inches. Mintz said it would be a fatal mistake to think she and Knopf will cruise to the final just because, on paper, they look to be a safe bet.”A couple of those AVP teams are very solid,” said Mintz, a varsity head coach at Crossroads High School in Los Angeles. “The draw is also important. You just never know how it’s going to go. There are just so many players coming from so many places and adjusting to the altitude. It’s just a crazy tournament where so many things can happen.”Crazy as in lots of fun, too.

“When you’re playing at center court, it’s awesome, “Mintz said. “To have that old-style feel where you have people up so close, instead of in the grandstands, I love it. Everybody is having such a great time.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com

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