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RBVL Finals:  It’s Still All Good

pictures below article

By Joe McGivney                                                                   8/16/13

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, mostly 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 2013 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!   And the season was even more special coming on the heels of Hurricane Sandy when many residents didn’t know what was happening day to day.  Even now, many folks and businesses are struggling to make it back from the devastating storm.  However, they knew that each and every Wednesday evening they could put aside their troubles for a few hours of volleyball, a couple of cold beverages and an hour or two on the dance floor. The people lucky enough to be in the RBVL know it doesn’t get any better than that.  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 for the delicious sandwiches and wraps) and music help but you are what make the day so special.  Nets were available at 9:30 AM and a Rockaway miracle occurred – everyone showed up on time and set up the courts promptly, for the third year in a row.  At 10:30 AM, players were bumping, setting and spiking (and flubbing, fanning and whiffing) in heated playoff action. 

The higher seeds were generally on the winning side throughout the matches in the Ocean Division, proving the regular season was a true indicator of ability.  The only mild bump in the road was when the 5th seed, Sullivan and Galleshaw, nosed out the 4th seed, Gatemate.net, 3-1, winning two overtime games.  Tommy D. clinched the match with a flashback roof block for a 22-20 victory.  It was a great shot but Tommy will be nine months older next May at the start of the 2014 season.  Some of his old friends are waiting for him in the Ocean Breeze Division.  Speaking of age, the old man of the top division, Frank G., played well but was beaten like a red-headed stepchild on a rented mule by his perennial nemesis, Freedhand’s.  But Freedhand’s did the same thing to anyone who got in their way Saturday, winning nine straight sets and never yielding more than 13 points in any one game.  That is total domination.  Maybe they were tired of hearing West End Tents boast about winning 3 out of 4 years.  Well now it is 3 out of 5 years while Freedhand’s has won 2 of 3.  Get out your calculator and check which is a higher percentage.  Freedhand’s is on top again.  They were very happy to have avoided the Flip Cup All Stars in the playoff matchups since the All Stars seem to give them the most trouble of any team on the beach.  Even though the scores were lopsided, the vintage final’s duel displayed the best ball of the day on the beach as it usually does when the best squads battle.  Fans were amazed at the big hitters but mesmerized by the setters.

The Ocean Breeze Division was won by 5th seed, the Mighty Boosh, who barely got out of the first round.  They squared off against Casino Towing for the fourth consecutive week due to scheduling and position week placement and the match was just as tight as all of the others.  Boosh’s strong hitting and Casino’s air-tight defense led to a split of the first four games.  In the deciding game 5, the Boosh took a 19-13 lead and looked like winners.  Then limping Joe Abbracciamento made the move he is famous for.  He called a time out.  Then he played Bugsy’s recorded pep talk from 2002.  The team was rejuvenated and tied the score at 19.  However, the Boosh were mighty and dug down deep to win the next two points and the match.  Favorites, Bryan’s Auto and Off the Net advanced as did one underdog, Federation.  Round two saw the Mighty Boosh beat Bryan’s 3-1 and Off the Net defeat Federation 3-0.  Things kept rolling for the Boosh and they won three straight for the title.  Brian led the young hitters and Allison led the setters but Maeghan La Conata  earned the MVP honors with her overall play and perfect setting.  That gives Brian and Allison the outdoor title and they also hold the most recent indoor title from Aviator, quite an accomplishment.  Rumor has it that Murph and Dickie are trying to use the defunct “Player Reserve” clause to bring them back to It’s All Good.  The lawyers will have to decide that one.

The Wave Division went according to form in round one although Healy’s narrowly avoided an upset beating the Mormon Hitting Hands 21-14 in the fifth game.  How about a hand for the Hands.  The work they did in the community after Hurricane Sandy was amazing.  And then they thank us for being nice to them.  Hopefully, they felt the love playing on the beach every week with the same folks they were helping all week long.  Many balls dropped in and Connolly’s dropped out but their sponsors, Jeff and Kerry Ann, continue to stick by the team since the league first started.  That’s a long time and a great run, unmatched in RBVL history.  Sky Bar and the Cabana advanced to the championship, knocking out division leader Jameson’s and runner-up Healy’s.  Amidst a major controversy of legal and illegal players Cabana beat the Sky Bar and won sweatshirts for many original founding players of the RBVL.  Congratulations to the Johnson boys et al.  In the Beach, all the higher seeds won in the first round but all of the lower seeds won in round two, leaving Sal’s Auto Sandstorm and U Got Served standing alone in the finals.  Although Sal’s swept the match, the games were very tight, 21-16, 21-19 and 23-21.  U Got Served got served and spiked.  In the Boardwalk, the Stanii tip their hat to Sands Point for their solid volleyball and even better sportsmanship.  They even apologized any time one of their strong hits bounced off one of the ladies.  Youth prevailed but Patty wants to know if Jake wasn’t a little in awe of the oldies taking game 3.  And round one was similar with long rallies and great sportsmanship against Epstein’s.  The Stanii were a cohesive group but newbie, Thomas, (the only Stanii under 30) outdid himself.  The Stanii and Edison’s Place won stirring marathon matches along the way to advance but each team fell to league and playoff champion, Sands Point Physical Therapy, in four sets.  Sands Point also beat Sets on the Beach in four, bringing to mind the old NBA prediction of Moses Malone, “Four, four, four.”  Captain Tommy Touhey and Moses often hung out together at Kerry Hills so that must be where Tommy picked it up.  A special thanks to Sands Point PT who wanted to do something extra for the RBVL and donated 500 coozies which were given out to many teams, most of whom had lost in the first round.  No one goes home empty handed.  They also gave beach towels and bags to the RBVL Committee members.  Thanks much for your thoughtful donation.

It’s All Good marched to the tune of, “Repeat the palindromic season,” trying to recreate another championship season like 2002.  How’d that work out?  Not so good.  The top team in the Sun exited in round one, ending their dream season.  The Goldberg Boys, Patrick and Alex, have assumed the roles formerly held by brother James and Brian and Allison Bagley in the family volleyball hierarchy.  They run all over the court retrieving balls while the veteran (old, washed up) players remain, unmoving in their own tiny circles of death.  The young athletes are just not strong enough yet to run and jump with those large, heavy albatrosses around their necks.  Remember that Uncle Cement Shoes has a contract on his refrigerator that appears to have been signed in Goldberg blood and the kids cannot leave for a higher division until they bring home a title.  Allison, Brian and James got out and they are still winning titles elsewhere.  Kirby, period.  Bugsy and crew say thanks for a wonderful season in a year the community needed it most.  The committee outdid itself.  And the summer is not over.  Come by the Wharf on Saturday night for a party with the Gray Riders.  Now back to the rest of the division.  Lachner Painters led the Sun for much of the season but slumped in August.  The slump continued on Saturday with a nail-biting loss to Team Margarita 21-17 in the fifth set.  The man who has not been heard from in a while had nothing to say.  Margarita won another match in five to make the finals against 2nd seed Notorious D.I.G.’s.  Apparently they ran out of gas and the younger D.I.G.’s took the final rather easily, making them the only repeat champion in 2013.  In 2012 they came from last place to win 24-22 in game of the semis and 23-21 in game 5 of the finals.  This year D.I.G.’s came back from a 1-2 deficit in the first round thanks to the dynamic duo of Courtney and Erin Blum and rookie Tom Clark.  Jen McEvoy, Alexa, Jackie and Michelle were key players through out the day and season and the Hayes and Congustia brothers stepped it up at crucial points to carry the team to victory. Captain Shane Brunner led the charge both physically and spiritually.  That’s a good captain.  Get ready for the Ocean Division.  The D.I.G.'s would like to thank the RBVL committee for all the hard work they do to make the Wednesday nights so wonderful.

 The Sun Ray Division went according to regular season form matching up the top two teams in the final match.  However, Diggin ‘n Swiggin peaked at the right time and lumped up the Playland Motel 21-18, 21-9 and 21-12.  Unfortunately, a Playland male player suffered severe leg cramps and screamed in agony like a woman giving birth.  Moms, can you sympathize?  The Moon division saw 5 O’clock Somewhere whack the Arverne Avengers and nip Coastal Real Estate to make the title game.  Their opponent was ServePro NW Brooklyn who whipped Rathbones and the Social Yachties in the minimum six games.  The championship was a see-saw affair with 5 O’clock winning game one, ServePro winning games 2 and 3, 5 O’clock winning game 4, followed by a ServePro 21-18 victory for the sweatshirt.  In the Star Division, Rogers Irish Setters peaked at the right time and took home a coveted title with victories over Harbor Light Sandhogs, Tax City Suns of Beaches and crowd favorite, Sun Cycle Fitness Studio Island.  That was a lot of hard work for the 5th seeded squad but they persevered.  Four #1 seeds, one #2 seeds, two #3 seeds and two #5 seeds ended up taking titles, showing how important it is to finish high in the yearlong standings.  No 6th, 7th or 8th place teams won a championship.  The RBVL does not like to leave anyone home so the two teams who were eliminated from the playoffs were invited to play each other in the Fun Bowl.  They played and they had fun.  Ocean’s 12 prevailed over the Beach House 19, 17 and 12 but admitted to using ringers since it was not a league playoff game.  Maybe they were scouting for next year, when they hope to make the real playoffs.  Both teams were rewarded with a case of their favorite beverages for taking the time to come down for the fun of it.  After all, isn’t that the point?

Sandy removed the concrete walkway at Riis Park so Patty supplied the RBVL’s own walkway, a butt ugly red carpet that served its purpose beautifully during the after-party.  There was an intense fashion competition going on amongst the ladies on Saturday and kudos go out to Megan Dolan, Jackie Kenel and Mary Edwards.  These three ladies rocked various bathing suits with skirts, pants and hats.  Nice Job.  Mary gets more kudos for donating the “Rockaway Gliders” buckets which have helped us clean the beach each week.  And while we’re giving out kudos, let’s give some to Billy Collins, who is fighting some serious ailments but still finds the time to come to Riis Park for the RBVL playoffs.  Say an extra prayer for Billy’s health and recovery because every little bit helps.  And more kudos, this time to a referee.  Many refs did a fine job on Saturday but kudos to young ref, Gabriel Hidalgo, who called a great first round match in the Sun division. He made some tough calls during a tight match between Notorious DIG's and Boarders and was not intimated by the Boarders outbursts.  Veteran referee (and Division 1 volleyball player from Florida State) Melanie Pavels commented that she was very impressed by the way he handled himself.  Many young refs know the game pretty well and should be given the same respect as our old time referees.  Last of the kudos - the RBVL took the $125 collected in late net fees and rounded it up to $500 and donated the money to Rockaway Wish and Kelli Donohue-Tirado.   Kudos to the RBVL and to Rockaway Wish.

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 Juliana Moule.  Well done!  There used to be three young women in this category but Lauren Moule left the staff to play regularly on Off the Net in the Ocean Breeze Division.  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.  Action should continue around the beach for several more weeks. Don’t forget to check our website at www.rbvl.com.  You'll find a lot of playoff pictures shortly. 

See you on the beach in 2014!  Practice week is scheduled for 5/21/14.  Mark your calendar.