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Everybody Loves a Winner

By Joe McGivney                                                                   8/19/11

playoff pictures click here

On Saturday, volleyballs flew all day on the sands of Riis Park as contestant’s fought for the fabled winner’s sweatshirts in the Rockaway Beach Volleyball League playoffs.  The weather was an ideal 84 degrees, sunny and virtually windless and the quality of play seemed to match the quality of the playing conditions.  Nine different division champions were crowned by day’s end and the mood was both festive and bittersweet as the 2011 season ended and the joy of another terrific year was offset by the sadness that many friends would go their separate ways over the next 10 months, not seeing each other quite as regularly anymore.  More than a few people were weepy!   Commissioner Patty Moule outdid herself again although she selflessly deflected credit to her committee of Rocky, Steve, Denise, John and Joe for a job well done.  Thank you all for making the season a great success and making Saturday one of the RBVL's most spectacular playoff days ever.  Your camaraderie and friendship elevate the league to heights no other league enjoys.  As always, the exciting games, food (Kudos to Beach Bagel for the delicious sandwiches and wraps) and music (More kudos to DJ Brian from the Tubridy stable, DJ’s at Work, who rocked the finals) help but you are what make the day so special.  If you need a DJ don’t hesitate to call 917-690-5140 and let them know you liked Brian’s work at the beach.

The weather was perfect once again, making the season’s final weather record 12.5 good and 0.5 bad, an unprecedented streak.  The law of averages says rain coats and goulashes will be needed in 2012 because some rough spots are simply overdue but that is a ways off right now.  Nets were available at 9:30 AM and a Rockaway miracle occurred – everyone showed up on time and set up the courts promptly.  At 10:30 AM, players were bumping, setting and spiking (and flubbing, fanning and whiffing) in heated playoff action.  A five game match that had Rockaway Beach Digital Design edging the Flip Cup All Stars highlighted the first two rounds of play in the Ocean Division which resulted in top seed Freedhand’s facing off against two time champ, Sugar Bowl in the final.  This vintage duel displayed the best ball of the day on the beach as it usually does when these two rivals battle.  Even though the big hitters of Freedhand’s fired away, the setters were the true MVP’s and led the crew to an overtime victory in game four to clinch the title.  The Ocean Breeze Division was won by 2nd seed, Dig This, in convincing fashion.  Their 9-0 day was made possible by great all around team effort and play.  Rosanne, Cathy, Stephanie and Elizabeth set beautifully and hitters, Braien, Sean, Jesse and Vsevolod dominated the net.  Regular season champ, Bryan’s Auto Accelerator, was the runner-up and who knows what might have happened if their Captain, Jimmy Mack, had not been injured on the last Wednesday of the regular season.  Wait until next year.  Bryan’s exciting 21-19 5th set semi-final victory over JG Electric was one of the tensest showdowns of the tournament.  Though they lost in the finals, the squad came up big winning the party afterward.  Cubby, Jimmy Mack, Howie, Dickie, and Keith closed the beach at Riis Park in the pouring rain around 10 PM Saturday.  Some things never change.

Two veteran teams waged an epic war in the first round of the Wave Division playoff.  The Blackwater Boarders and the Cabana alternated wins until game 5 when the Boarders sealed the deal with a 21-10 rout.  The Wharf Rats and the Mighty Boosh battled for the top spot all season in the Wave and Saturday was no different.  They met in the last match and this time the Rats emerged victorious in four games (two OT affairs) to claim the title.  The Miley Home Improvement Posse moved up to the Beach and won it just like they won the Boardwalk last year.  They are on a two year roll and promise to be a threat if they move to the Wave next season.  For two years the squad has filled their roster with the same group of family and friends – the Miley boys, Bobby and Pat, and cousins, Owen, the "big" girls Caitlin and Meghan plus the extended family of Erika, Devin, Caitlin, Kenny, Greg, Danny Zen Master Debo Brown, Ryan, token fireman, Mark and executive chef Donna.  Owner/sponsor Bob Miley (aka George Steinbrenner) and captains, Joe Wheeler and Carol Miley, would like to thank the RBVL for a great year.  Next year - three-peat!  ROC FAM won the regular season title and took the playoffs as well in the Boardwalk division.  However, it took an epic showdown against their division rival, U Got Served with a 21-18 win in game 5 to do the job.  After losing the second game they appeared to be in trouble but they righted the ship and finished strong.  The Land Sharks made the playoffs (everyone did) but exited very quickly.  That doesn’t mean they exited Riis Park quickly.  Once again, they were among the last revelers to go home.  The Sun division produced one of the biggest upset of the day with 8th seed, a Night Out, eliminating 1st seed, Coastal Real Estate in three straight, 16-18-16.  Unfortunately, they could not keep up the pace and lost in the semi-finals to Boarders Surf Shop 21-19 in the 5th set.  It’s All Good could not keep up the pace either after a round one victory and went down in the semis to the Breakaways in four.  And in the hectic liquid marathon of playoff Saturday, TBG set a pace that even he could not keep up with and he retired early.  In other words, TBG DNF.  Kirby, period.  In the most exciting comeback of the day, the Breakers went down two games to none before turning things around with three straight wins (7-17-16) to take the title.  Elaine’s championship navy blue sweatshirt should match her black and blue eye nicely.

 In the Sun Ray Division, Sal’s Auto Sandstorm sailed through the first two rounds and led 2-1 in the finals before 6th seed, Sands Point PT, staged a championship winning turnaround by winning the final two games 21-11 and 21-13.  Is there any connection between Captain Tom Touhey going on vacation and missing the playoffs and Sands Point PT winning the title?  Draw your own conclusions.  The Moon Division featured the 2nd upset of the league leader by the last place team when Robin Shapiro Realty Island took down the Odd Couples in a five game thriller.  It looked like Denise might get a new sweatshirt for the cold Texas winters but alas it was not meant to be as they lost a tight match to the Baranhas in the second round.  Then the 3rd seed, White Horse Tavern prevailed in a five game finale.  The Baranhas were so close but were denied a league title once again.  They recovered from the tough loss and partied into the night as expected.  In the Star Division, ServPro NW played back-to-back 5 game matches but ran out of steam, losing to the Social Yachties 21-19 in their tenth game of the day.  The Social Yachties then ran out of steam as well, losing three straight to champs, Rockaway Breakers.  The Breakers went 9-0 in dominating fashion and were led by brothers, Connor and John McHale, products of the team’s rich farm system.  Team leader Kevin Gallagher has not been able to play much lately due to a change in his work hours and the team rampaged to a league championship without him.  Some say it’s just a coincidence but his softball team is in the title game for the first time ever and he has not played there either.  Coincidence, not likely.  The prized hooded sweatshirts are always worn with pride and look terrific but none may look better than Lord Voldemort’s, which will be accented by his two pink scarves, which he previously won for being on the best party team in the RBVL.  The Breakers’ spectacular playoff run might make them the first team in history to jump seven divisions from the Star to the Ocean Breeze next year.  They would then become the first team ever to compete wearing the coveted pink scarves in either of the top two divisions.  As one of their aging, well past his prime, former greats, says, “Everybody loves a winner.”

Five #1 seeds, two #2 seeds, a #3 and #6 ended up taking titles, making 2011 the year of the favorites.  One match featured a high-speed collision between two teammates resulting in a broken arm, a trip to the hospital, a bone setting and cast and then a return to Riis Park for the rest of the day.  That is the stuff of an MVP.  Mary Ryan barely rebounded from being the runner-up in the BHYC Adult Musical Chairs Game and fought through the disappointment to enjoy Saturday’s fun.  Eddie and Kathy are still happily married and celebrated by driving Joe and Patty home after the dust had settled on all activities Saturday.  Much thanks from your carless leaders.  Mikey Sica and Liz Murphy did not win the Ocean championship but they were even bigger winners when they got engaged on Saturday night at the Tiki Bar.  Can another generation (X or Y or whatever) of players be far behind?  Patty and Denise and the men of the RBVL committee would like to say, “Thank you” to all the well-wishers for their kind words, hugs and kisses on Saturday and all along the way.  And thanks to all who helped out on "Playoff Saturday," reffing, tracking scores, updating the scoreboard and basically doing whatever was necessary to make the day run smoothly.  And a special thanks to two young ladies who worked all year with their moms and did an amazing amount of work, Caroline Brunner and Lauren Moule.  Well done!  Everyone in Rockaway is getting a bit verklempt just thinking about the season coming to end.  What the RBVL does for Rockaway is quite magical.  Just because the league is officially over doesn’t mean that the volleyball games must stop.  It looks like the weekly Monday night pick-up games at Steve’s 127th St. stadium will continue for several more weeks. We hope to see many of you on the beach at 6 PM if you are available.  As always, if you have any questions please call Patty at 917-613-0908.  (Be sure to call between 10 AM and 9 PM.  Remember, Patty has a life outside of VB, too.)  Or just check our website at www.rbvl.com.  You'll find the answers to most of your questions there, not to mention pretty pictures and funny stories. 

See you on the beach in 2012!