Second Lode title the sweetest for Mercer | AspenTimes.com

Second Lode title the sweetest for Mercer

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

It took them four tries, but Ivan Mercer and Eyal Zimet finally beat Vincent Robbins and Adam Robertson. And once they’d done so Monday afternoon at Koch Lumber Park, there was no way Mercer and Zimet were going to lose again.Re-energized after staving off elimination with a 25-23 win in the second game of the MotherLode men’s open final, Mercer and Zimet persisted through a late charge from Robbins and Roberts in the clinching third game to win, 15-13. The two champions then clenched each other at midcourt in a long embrace, celebrating while Robbins remained lying in the sand, shaking his head while wondering how he and his partner let a championship get away.For Mercer, his second straight title at the 35-year-old Labor Day weekend volleyball classic was sweeter than the first – simply because it was that much harder to win.”They beat us the first game, and it was looking pretty grim, but Eyal played pretty unbelievable,” said Mercer, a former Miami Hurricanes tight end who had a cup of coffee in the NFL with the Redskins before pursuing beach volleyball. “Eyal pulled me through some moments where I wasn’t playing well … It’s just an unbelievable tournament, and to win it, I’m just so stoked right now.”

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” said Robbins, a Denver native and a former scholarship athlete himself in basketball at Metro State who now calls San Diego, Calif., home. “It sure doesn’t feel good to lose.”Mercer and Zimet of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Oahu, Hawaii, both said they felt the same way after they fell to Robbins and Roberts in straight games Sunday morning (21-19, 21-19) and had to take the long road to the final through the loser’s bracket.In the rematch at center court, Robbins and Roberts again won the opening game, 21-18, and were one point away from a second-straight sweep, but couldn’t close the second game. Zumet – a native of Hamifratz, Israel – kept hopes alive for he and Mercer when he tied the game at 20 with a screaming serve that Roberts couldn’t handle. Knotted at 23, Zumet then won the final two points, placing a perfect cross-court drop shot over Robbins, then stuffing Robbins at the net for game point.Robbins’ and Roberts’ demeanors at the outset of the 15-point tiebreaker suggested the two had conceded defeat. Both played in the AVP qualifier at Cincinnati, Ohio, Friday and Saturday before flying to Aspen, and five days of matches had finally seemingly taken its toll.

“Me and Adam had our chances in the second, we didn’t take them, momentum swung, and our body language got kind of down,” said Robbins, playing in his ninth MotherLode. “When we had to go to three games, it was kind of tough mentally to get up for it.” Mercer and Zumet, sensing the kill, jumped out to an early 6-1 lead and stayed ahead by five points up to 11-6. Robbins and Roberts weren’t finished, however, stringing together a 6-1 run keyed by two Robbins’ blocks and two huge kills from Roberts. After trading points, Mercer hit through Robbins to force game point. Robbins then sealed the victory for the opposition when he hit out of bounds over Mercer.”Me and Adam talk about all the time that we may not be the tallest or the fastest, but we will compete until we can’t anymore, until the game’s over,” said Robbins of the run that just came up short. “Adam made some great plays, I got a block or two and we found ourselves back in it, but it just didn’t happen.”

Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com

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