Rustys at 2013 USA Open National Championships
One of CEVA's most successful and historic clubs traveled to the USA Open Nations Championships in Louisville this year. Rustys' team Captain Tom Swanson shares their story.
Rustys in Louisville 2013
Much Gold, with a Touch of Bronze
It was a very successful Nationals this year for Rustys. The 76+ team won the gold, dominating this "oldest" division by not losing a set. The 73+ team also won the gold, being only slightly less dominating, losing a total of 2 sets and no matches. In fact, four players on Rustys actually won every match they played over the 6 days.
The 70+ team also was happy with their result. They had a losing record, but by winning key matches won the bronze medal in the gold division. The 65+ team had very inconsistent play. After playing equal with the best two teams in the pool, being 1-1 in matches and 3-3 in sets with the gold division teams, they lost badly to the weaker teams in the pool. This resulted in a trip to the bronze division, in which they won the gold.
Rustys 76+ consisted of Ken Bleasdell, Norm McLeod, Lee Johnson, Jim Hopton, Bob Annen, Bill Anderson, and Bob Quackenbush. These seven players were very well balanced, with one being libero. This made lineups simple and the same lineup was used throughout the tournament, with the only change being that the team alternated the players being "liberoed". There were no positions in the rotation that were stronger or weaker than any other, and passing, setting, hitting and defense were uniformly good. This resulted in 8 straight sets won in the 5 team pool and 6 straight sets won in double elimination. Four Rustys, Ken, Norm, Lee, and Jim, were selected for the all-tournament team, but the other three played equally well.
According to the USAV website, of the 97 men's teams at Louisville, only one other team (Legends 65) had a higher point ratio than our 1.77. Also, only one other team (Legends 65) of the 97 won all of their matches and sets. It is now about 30 years since Rustys started playing at Nationals, and at that time the highest age bracket was 45 and up—so called Golden Masters. After playing somewhere near 1000 sets at Nationals, this year was probably the best and most satisfying performance for several Rustys, especially as some players also received gold medals with the Rustys 73+ team.
There were 6 teams in the 73+ division, and Rustys were dominant. They swept the pool play, winning every set. The only close match was against Mac Magic, with Rustys winning 25-23, 25-15. As the double elimination started Rustys continued to dominate, beating Colorado Mile High 25-14, 25-13. In the winner's bracket finals, Rustys finally lost their first set, to Mac Magic. This hard-fought match was finally won 21-25, 25-16, 15-12. Rustys could relax until the finals, while Mac Magic had to play Midwest VB. Mac won this match 25-23, 27-25, setting up the final match with Rustys. The finals were again very close, with Rustys winning 25-18, 21-25 15-5.
The All-Tournament team had 4 players from Rustys, Tim Weldon, Dave Danielson, Jim Hopton, and Norm McLeod. Dave Danielson was the Most Valuable Player for the tournament. Other players were Fran Launstein, Tom Swanson, Lee Johnson, Ken Bleasdell, and Dennis Berry. Norm, Ken, Lee, and Jim won all their matches over the 6 days, having a set record of 30-2.
In the 70+ division, Rustys succeeded by winning key matches. Rustys started the tournament seeded 4th. With 9 teams in the tournament, teams played the first day in three pools of 3 teams each. In this pool, the Aces (Florida) defeated Rustys 20-25, 25-13, 15-10, and Team Sota (from Minnesota, of course) defeated Rustys (16-25, 25-9, 15-12). At this point Rustys were now ranked 9th. Fortunately, there was a challenge match against a 2nd place team from another pool, and Rustys defeated Mac Pac 25-22, 25-22, to finish the first day now ranked 6th. More importantly, they were still in contention for the gold division rather than being dropped to the silver division.
On day two, Rustys played much better. Teams were again placed into three pools of 3, with the top two pools fighting for a chance to play in the gold division. In a key match against perennial champion Quiksilver Legends of Southern California, Rustys won 25-20, 25-22. This was followed by a match with Aces from Florida, and Aces won 25-17, 24-26, 15-12. In set two, Squier Smith's serving brought us back for the win, and this proved to be key, as Quiksilver defeated Aces in two sets and Rustys won the pool with a 3-2 set record (to Quiksilver Legends' 2-2 and Aces' 2-3). By winning the pool, Rustys earned a spot in the gold division.
The four teams in the gold were now, in order of seed, Outback Steakhouse of Seattle, Rustys from Portland, SEC from Florida, and Legends. Aces and Sota, teams that had defeated Rustys, were down in the silver division.
Rustys continued to win key matches, defeating SEC 25-13, 25-22, while Outback defeated the Legends. The winner's bracket finals found Outback defeating Rustys 25-17, 26-24. In the loser's bracket finals, Legends defeated Rustys 25-14, 25-19. In the finals, Legends defeated Outback, 25-21, 15-25, 15-12. Since Legends had come from the loser's bracket, there was one final match consisting of one set. Outback won that set 25-18. The order of finish was Outback, Legends, Rustys, and SEC.
To show how even the play was this year in the 70+ tournament, Aces and Sota, teams that had defeated Rustys in pool play, lost their first match in the Silver Division.
In the words of one player on the Rustys 65s, "Rustys didn't stink as bad on the third day as the second day". Actually, Rustys did play very well, just not in all of their matches. Pool play was two pools of 6 teams each. Rustys lost the first match of the tournament to Living On The Edge (Arizona) 25-13, 25-16. This match was kind of a warm-up match trying to find a workable lineup with only a total of 7 players one of whom had an injured thumb. In the next two matches on day one in their pool, Rustys played very well. They defeated Papakoa (Chicago, Ill) 20-25, 25-21, 16-14. Papakoa ended up finishing in third place in the gold bracket. Rustys then lost to Grog (Virginia) 25-20, 20-25, 16-14. Grog ended up finishing in second place in the gold bracket. These were both well played matches and the loss to Grog was only by a total of 2 points. Unfortunately, on day two, Rustys played poorly against the other teams in the pool. They lost to Silverbacks (Maryland) 25-17, 25-16, and lost to Fog (Edmonton, Alberta), 25-18, 25-18).
This placed Rustys in a four team Bronze bracket on day three. In this bracket Rustys showed how they could really play, defeating SEC (Florida) 25-7, 25-9, and then Fog (Edmonton, Alberta) 25-8, 25-17 to take home the gold medal in the Bronze division. The last match against Fog showed the turnaround from day 2 to day 3.
Members of the Rustys team were Richard Ellegood OP, Dennis Horn S, and Surj Sanghera OH, all of whom had played on Rustys 70s in the previous session. They were joined by Rich Harpster OH, Gary Pfingsten MH, Harry Siemen OH, and Jon Spitzer MH.