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Camacho keys repeat victory

Tim Mutrie
Dana Camacho, right, spikes one against Dave Smith during their battle for the crown of the men's open divison of the 2004 MotherLode Volleyball Classic at Koch Lumber Park Monday afternoon September 6, 2004. Camacho and his team mate Chris Hannemann went on to win. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.
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Around 2 a.m. Monday, MotherLode partners Dana “Macho” Camacho and Chris Hannemann shut down Club Chelsea.Seven and a half hours later, beginning with their first match Monday, the defending Men’s Open division champions proceeded to shut down every opponent they faced at Aspen’s Koch Lumber Park.With Camacho’s catlike quickness and Magic Johnsonesque court vision, and Hannemann’s steadying hands and presence, the duo captured their second MotherLode Volleyball Classic title in a dogfight final match against Californian beach pros Jimmy Nichols and Dave Smith (22-20, 19-21 and 15-13).For Camacho and Hannemann, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Seattle, respectively, the victory marked their second straight undefeated run through the winner’s bracket of the elite, 64-team Men’s Open. Meanwhile, Nichols and Smith, of Encinitas and Manhattan Beach, Calif., respectively, took the long road into the finals through the loser’s bracket – they opened the tournament with a forfeit because they were still in Chicago at an AVP Tour event.The final pitted two similar teams, with Camacho and Nichols serving up unimaginable digs on defense and Hannemann and Smith stalking the front court.

In the end, Camacho proved to be the difference.”Dana played better defense than I sided out, so we won the game,” said the 40-year-old Hannemann. “He does so many things well, he can do whatever he wants out there. Jimmy Nichols is one of the best side out players on the AVP and Dana just gobbled him up.”I don’t think the AVP has anyone that quick.”When the score in the final game of the match was locked at 13-all, Camacho launched one of his infamous “sky balls” – a looping serve arcing some 50 feet over the net – as if to punctuate the impending victory.While Colorado native Smith handled the rainbow serve, a Hannemann block won the point. Camacho put the championship on ice on the next serve with a cut shot to the sideline tape.

In accordance with a wager between Camacho and Nichols, Nichols then dropped to his knees in the sand to bow down to his back court adversary five times.”How embarrassing is that?” Camacho, 27, later cracked with the 37-year-old Nichols in earshot.”I just played better defense than lil’ Jimmy,” Camacho continued, smiling. “I was beating him when I was 10 years old and I’m still beating him.”Nichols, referring to Camacho and Hannemann’s $2,000 bounty, countered: “He earned enough so he can get another tattoo.”Playing with other partners at the AVP tourney in Chicago, Nichols and Smith finished 13th and 17th, respectively. Then they boarded a plane for Denver, missed their connection to Aspen and drove over the divide. They got to Aspen at 2 a.m. Sunday – already facing an uphill battle through the loser’s bracket.

“We were lucky to get as far as we did,” said Nichols. “And I feel good that we got that far, but at the same time, it’s very disappointing losing.”Smith, 32, has lost MotherLode open finals before.”Getting to play with the great Dave Smith is why I’m here,” said Nichols. “I’m honored he chose me.””The tournament was run excellently and the setting is second to none,” Nichols continued.Virginians Rob Bailey and Todd Robertson finished third in the Men’s Open.


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