Rain can’t stop ‘Lode, Swartzendruber | AspenTimes.com

Rain can’t stop ‘Lode, Swartzendruber

Steve Benson
Ryan Lindstrom, right, attempts to spike one past Kyle Schultz during their last match at Koch Lumber Park during the Mother Lode Volleyball Classic Sunday afternoon September 5, 2004. Schultz and his team mate Neil Rooney won the match 27-26 to advance in the winner's bracket of the Open Division. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

Cold, heavy rain put a damper on the MotherLode Volleyball Classic Saturday, but it didn’t cool off the competition, which tournament organizers are calling the fiercest in years.”It’s probably the strongest field in the women’s and men’s open – and all the way down – that we’ve seen here in a long time,” said Leon Fell, the MotherLode’s producer since 1981. “There’s some color going on on the courts, and a lot of rivalries going on. It’s creating some entertainment.” Organizers weathered Saturday’s rain, bone-chilling temperatures and subsequent delays to get play back on schedule for Sunday and today, the fifth and final day of the Classic.The women’s and men’s sand open divisions are down to the final four, with more elimination matches slated to get under way at about 9:30 a.m. today at Koch Lumber Park. The Women’s Open finals are scheduled for 3 p.m. today, with the Men’s Open finals immediately following.Local favorites and former Colorado State University volleyball stars Krista Swartzendruber and Angela Knopf – Swartzendruber is a graduate of Glenwood Springs High – are on track to three-peat after cruising into the final four.”I think they’ll win without any challenge,” said tournament director Tim Weiand. But Swartzendruber and Knopf aren’t taking the competition lightly.

“This is a really, really good turnout,” said Knopf.Added Swartzendruber: “It’s a tough match every match.”The duo is the No. 1 seed in the tournament for a second consecutive year. In 2002, the first year they won, they were ranked dead last.The other teams in the final four: Nicki Fusco and Gina Kirstein, Sandy Matthes and Natalie Sime, and Dawn Tischauser and Diane Pascua. Both Swartzendruber and Knopf said n see MotherLode on page A22– continued from page A19balancing focus with fun will be the key to a third straight title.

“We need to enjoy it, no matter what happens,” Knopf said. “But we need to play for every point.”Swartzendruber added, “We need to have fun and make changes and adjust during the game.”Aspen native and pro beach player Catie Vagneur and her teammate Kelly Rowe, who entered as the No. 2 seeds, were upset in the second round by Matthes and Sime.In the Men’s Open, top seeds and defending MotherLode champions Dana “Macho” Camacho of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Chris Hannemann of Santa Barbara, Calif., have also battled back to the final four.Weiand says they’re still the odds-on favorites, but it won’t be easy.”There are no real stars, but there’s a lot of competition,” Weiand said. “Anywhere from the 19th seed to the second could win.”The teams of Colin Kaslow and Tim Wooliver, Bryan Gibson and Keith Jones, and Rob Bailey and Jason Robertson round out the final four in the Men’s Open.

Cori Kamanao and Jumpin’ Joe Samuela, the highly touted Samoan team from Salt Lake City, were no shows. Weiand said it’s the second time the pair has suddenly pulled out of a tournament.Fell said one of the highlights of Sunday was the play of Jasmine and Nicole Sapp, 14-year-old twins from the Colorado Springs area, who advanced to the finals in the women’s grass court B division. Both Sapps play for Pamona High School.”It’s really cool,” Fell said.The grass court division finals, which for the first time will decide both a MotherLode and USA National Park Volley Champion, are scheduled for this morning and early afternoon at Wagner Park.Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com