MotherLode Volleyball Classic ends with new, repeat winners |

MotherLode Volleyball Classic ends with new, repeat winners

Florida's Piotr Marciniak, left, goes airborne while playing alongside teammate Skylar Del Sol, of Elizabeth, Colorado, in the men's open finals of the 44th annual MotherLode Volleyball Classic at Koch Lumber Park Monday in Aspen. Marciniak and Del Sol defeated the Utah duo of Duncan Budinger and Mike Nelson in three sets to win the prestigious tournament.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

Karolina Marciniak was lucky she even had a partner for the weekend’s 44th annual MotherLode Volleyball Classic. Only days before she was set to fly to Aspen from Port St. Lucie, Florida, her partner was injured, and it left Marciniak scrambling for a replacement.

She reached out to fellow Floridian Kim Hildreth, who she has played alongside periodically in the National Volleyball League, and that was that. Only, Hildreth was lucky to get out of Florida before Hurricane Hermine — the first hurricane to make landfall in the state since 2005 — wreaked havoc.

It was all part of the journey that led the duo to Koch Lumber Park in Aspen, where Monday they finished off their opponent in two sets to win the women’s open division of the prestigious pro-am beach volleyball tournament.

“I thought it would be not easy, but we were pretty confident together,” said Hildreth, a former indoor player for Eastern Michigan University. “It took a lot of us to get here. It wasn’t easy. We had to play some good girls along the way. It means just as much. It’s still good money, and we put a lot into it.”

While this was Hildreth’s first time in Aspen, Marciniak played in the MotherLode in 2012 with a different partner, finishing in the top 10. A native of Poland, Marciniak admitted the altitude and last-second nature of finding a partner made the tournament more than challenging.

“We played well. However, we were really tired. I can tell you my legs were quitting every play,” Marciniak said of the finals, which they won, 21-13, 21-14. “It’s tough to play with your regular partner and then switch with someone else. But we have pretty good chemistry on the court and off the court. It was an easy adjustment for us.”

The day became even more special for Marciniak when, an hour after winning the women’s open title, she watched her husband, Piotr Marciniak, pair with Elizabeth resident Skylar Del Sol to win the men’s open title. Marciniak and Del Sol won a thrilling 15-21, 23-21, 15-11 battle against Mike Nelson and Duncan Budinger, both of Utah.

“First couple of days, I was struggling physically,” Piotr Marciniak said. “It’s a little bit different volleyball. It was difficult for me to make some adjustments. But we made it; we made it happen. We won, and I’m very happy.”

Piotr Marciniak, also a NVL pro, had never been to Colorado before this week. Del Sol, on the other hand, is a frequent MotherLode player and paired with Cody Kessel to win the men’s open division in 2014. In 2015, Del Sol played with California’s Jon Mesko and took third.

Also Monday, six amateur champions were crowned. The Colorado Springs duo of Cindy Bathelt and Kendall Utz won the women’s “A” division; Krista Yoder and Molly Redmond of Kansas City, Missouri, took the women’s “BB” division; and Molly Moran and Shannon Roth of Omaha, Nebraska, won the women’s “B” division.

Taking the men’s “A” division crown was the Denver duo of David Duran and Isaac Garcia. Also from Denver, Tomas Ochoa and Julio Garcia won the men’s “BB” division, and Minnesota’s Justin Brockman and Robert Pelton were the men’s “B” division champs.

The six-day tournament hosted 475 teams from 27 different states as well as Canada and Mexico, and concluded with Monday’s open championships.

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