SoCal duo wins men’s title |

SoCal duo wins men’s title

Daniel Bayer photo.Dana Camacho of Hermosa Beach, Calif., reaches for a dig as partner Chris Hannemann of Seal Beach, Calif., looks on during the men's open finals of the 31st MotherLode Volleyball Classic on Monday at Koch Park. Camacho and Hannemann went unbeaten on the weekend to claim the elite men's crown.

Californians Dana Camacho and Chris Hannemann cruised through an elite 71-team division unbeaten and largely untested to claim the men’s open crown Monday, the final day of the 31st MotherLode Volleyball Classic in Aspen.

In the shade of Shadow Mountain Monday evening, Camacho, 26, of Hermosa Beach and Hannemann, 38, of Seal Beach clinched the championship with a dominating 25-17 win over Houston’s Riley Salmon and Randy Meador in the finals.

Salmon, 27, a three-year player with the U.S. National Team, and Meador, 38, battled their way into the finals through the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tourney with big spikes, timely defense and few errors.

But against Camacho and Hannemann in the finals, the Texans’ powerful brand of ball was neutralized.

Camacho and Hannemann led 18-9 at one point of the first-to-25 match, thanks to several Hannemann blocks on spikes by Salmon or Meador. And on spikes that did elude the outstretched Hannemann, the cat-like Camacho was often there behind him to come up with a lunging dig to keep the ball alive. Toward the end, Camacho faked at several spikes only to finesse the ball with a light touch over Salmon’s reach to the back line for points.

“That was the plan,” said Camacho, a regular player on the AVP beach tour.

“I’ve been playing so many years that I know where to play my block, and Dana reads well behind it,” Hannemann added. “It’s gotta be a great shot ’cause he’s so fast, or I’ll block it. And obviously, we got so many points in the beginning there, they couldn’t come back.

“I think we gave ourselves the biggest test, though. We really did make some silly mistakes.”

Salmon, who is training with the U.S. team in Colorado Springs currently, said he and Meador ran out of gas in the finals.

“We played a lot of games today and we just got a little tired I think,” he said.

“But Randy’s the guy I first started playing volleyball with ever outside, so it was a good reunitement tournament for us. It was fun,” Salmon said, “and the Meadors did run the tournament.”

On Friday, Randy Meador won the men’s masters division (37-plus) with Keith Jones of Tennessee, the same day Meador’s wife Samantha won the women’s masters crown (35-plus) with Wendy Martin of St. Petersburg, Fla. Samantha Meador also finished third in the women’s open division on Monday.

Camacho and Hannemann also climbed to the MotherLode podium earlier in the weekend. Camacho and friend Tara Brinkerhoff, also of Hermosa Beach, won the coed open title, while Hannemann finished third in the men’s masters with partner Chip Hollis of San Diego.

“Exciting way to end the weekend? Hell yeah!” said Hannemann, who has two brothers active on the beach circuit. “This is a biggie, it’s one of the biggest tournaments in the country.”

“And we’ll be back, absolutely,” said Camacho. “We’ll be back to kick some more ass.”

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