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RBVL Crowns 10 Champions

By Rocky D. and Joe McGivney                                                                    8/19/16

2016 Champs

Ocean:  FREEDHANDS
Ocean Breeze: JG ELECTRIC
Wave:   EH STAY
Beach:  BREAKAWAYS 
Beach Breeze: NOTORIOUS D.I.G.
Boardwalk:  RINCON GRINGOS
Moon:  ROGERS IRISH SETTERS
Star:  LAST CALL
Sun:  BUNGALOW BARAHNAS
Sun Ray: IFMA'S

 

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 brutally hot for volleyball and akin to the desert scene from "Lawrence of Arabia."  The sands were frying the bottoms of players’ feet all day.  If you thought bumping, setting and spiking was difficult enough, try doing it with your feet afire.  Somehow the level of play remained high in spite of the conditions.  Ten different division champions were crowned by day’s end and the mood was both festive and bittersweet as the 2016 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!  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 sixth year in a row.  At 10:30 AM, play was under way with heated playoff action.  People anticipate each and every Wednesday evening when they could put aside real life for a few hours of volleyball, a couple of cold beverages and an hour or two on the dance floor. Saturday’s tournament took that spirit to the highest level.  The people lucky enough to be in the RBVL know it doesn’t get any better than that.  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. 

 

The 4 higher seeds each won their first round matches in the Ocean Division but Freedhand’s had to go 5 games to edge West End Tents 21-17.  That was the last time they were challenged all day.  The young guns of Hyper Athletic advanced to the finals as the top seed but the veterans of Freedhand’s dominated to win back the title they lost in 2015 by a 21-19 score in game 5 of the finals.  Any talk of their departure from preeminent status was premature.  They are still the team to beat each and every year.  And a few more details from one of the league’s first cub reporters, Coach - While the top 4 seeds advanced to the semi-finals, two of the matches went a full 5 games. Kevin O’Malley riding a Sugar Bowl high led his team Sullivan & Galleshaw against the defending champions Bungalow Bar.  In a furious 5 games, S & G held on to victory and dethroned the champs. The 2 vs. 7 matchup between Freedhand’s and West End Tents looked like an easy match up for Freedhand’s. However, the two longtime rivals were all tied up after 4 games. In the deciding 5th game the score was tied at 16 -16 when Freedhand’s used an Usain Bolt sprint to the finish line to claim victory. First place Hyper Athletics handled Bryan’s 3 – 0 and newcomer to the Ocean Division, Kobeyaki got Kills defeated Freaky Tiki 3-1. In the semi – final match ups, S & G went toe to toe with Hyper Athletics splitting the first 4 games 2 -2. However, in the deciding 5th game, S &G play went from the “Highlight Zone” to the “Twilight Zone” trailing 11 -1 when the teams switched courts and Hyper Athletics cruised to victory. In the other semi- final Freedhand’s swept Kobeyaki 3 – 0, setting up the classic youth versus veterans Finals. Freedhand’s veteran play was the big difference in the finals. With flawless team work, led by the Big 3, Marie, Rich and Scott, Freedhand’s won 3-0.

 

The Ocean Breeze Division played out according to seeding as the Mighty Boosh, JG Electric, Casino Auto Body and BOP all won first round matches.  Then the top two seeds won grueling matches and advanced to the championship where JG easily handled the Boosh for the title.  The Wave Division went a little topsy-turvy with the 5th and 6th seeds making the finals.  Eh-Stay won 3-1 over Whit’s End and apparently their fear of being moved up a couple of divisions this season was unfounded.  Can you say, “Ocean Division 2017?”  In the Beach, #1 seed Breakaways did what a top seed is supposed to do – they won it all, finishing with a sweep of By the Beach Coco’s , who did well to advance that far as a 6 seed.  The Beach Breeze Division saw the Notorious D.I.G.’s get stronger as the day progressed (It’s good to be young.) and concluded with their whitewash of legendary, crowd favorite, It’s All Good.  Their last palindromic championship still weighs heavy on the shoulders of the Goldberg clan.  Winning matches was not in the cards for the Goldberg’s, Flanagan’s and Bagley’s, going 0-3 in finals but winning the attendance title at 11 PM was.  The championship (people) crew still had 16 members celebrating life.  And an MVP moment – TBG walking back down to the beach at 7:30 PM with a 30-pack and a bag of ice while most people were leaving.  Can you say Triple Back Up?  So did the elder statesmen of It’s All Good weep and leave the beach early after their tough finals loss?  No, no, my friends.  They cracked open the cooler, the backup cooler, the secret backup cooler and the battery powered music and enjoyed the best day of the year.  That’s right, an informal survey by TBG and Cement Shoes established that the best day of the year in America is RBVL Playoff Saturday.  Finishing second in the vote was Christmas followed closely by Groundhog Day and Arbor Day.

 

The Rincon Gringos flew in enough players from their Puerto Rican training camp to take the Boardwalk championship 3-1 over top seed Atlantic Service Sandsharks.  If you had predicted this victory earlier in the season you would have been laughed off the beach but the Gringos really came together for the big one.  The Rincon Gringos have been around in one form or another since 1987 under various names.  Six of their players are over 55.  And on the hottest day of the year, with blistered feet and dehydration, they climbed from sixth place in the regular season to the top of the Boardwalk division.  It wasn’t easy, the first match against Riis Park Bazaar was hard fought and went the distance with the Gringos winning the crucial game five.  It was obvious from that first match that Jimmy Mack and Smitty were determined to get the coveted sweatshirts as they played their best volleyball of the year.  The second match was against the top seeded Atlantic Service Sandsharks.  The Sandsharks won the first game and the Gringos lost more than the game when veteran Steve Collins went down with an ankle injury.  But the Gringos depth rose to the occasion as Sean, Jake, George, Morgan and John filled in valiantly as the Gringos swept the next three games.  The biggest addition to the team was Jay Butler who provided the mixture of experience and youth to lead the team.  In the final round against the second place Rockaway Gliders the consistent play of the women, Mary, Maria, and Billy led the way for the men as Jay, Timmy and Jimmy roughed it out to take home the championship.  Once again the Gringos lost the first game and swept the next three.  The championship meant a lot to the team, which was up 2-0 in the finals in 2012 and lost three in a row.  Their best player was Dylan Smith who everyone in Rockaway knows was a hero in Superstorm Sandy and then tragically lost his life in Rincon, PR two months later.  The team felt his spirit and dedicates their victory to Dylan.  Atta boy Dyl.

 

The Sun Division was one of the tighter regular season races this season, giving any of the teams a good chance of walking out winners.  Well who rose to the challenge?  The same team that rises to the challenge on the dance floor each and every week – the Bungalow Baranha’s.  To win it all the Baranha’s beat Tax City Tides, parts Are Us Sharks and the White Horse Tavern Posse Greann, Perfect Settings and the White Horse Tavern Beach Posse.  That’s real good work.  The Sun Ray Division teams were separated by only 4 points from first to last place over the entire season, a feat never before seen in the RBVL.  The IFMA’s emerged victorious, beating Le Greann 3-1 in th3e final round.  The Moon division saw Rogers Irish Setters reach the final round and beat upset-minded Harbor Light Sandhogs 3-0.  That means they will be fitted for a new wardrobe – the much sought after hooded championship sweatshirt.  The Star Division saw the top two teams advance to the title game and regular season champ Last Call held on for a 3-1 win.  Well deserved.  Over all, two #1 seeds, two #2 seeds, two #3 seeds, two #4 seeds a number 5 and a number 6 ended up taking titles, showing it is important it is to finish high in the yearlong standings but not essential.  No 7th and 8th place teams won a championship. 

 

The beach was spotlessly clean at the end of the festivities and special thanks go to two groups, the Gateway maintenance and cleaning crew and you, the players.  Both would have made Felix Unger proud with their fastidious quest to leave behind a sparkling beach.  Well done.  Special thanks go to Rita Mullally for her great support and assistance to the RBVL throughout the years.  Some sandwiches, wraps and watermelon were provided for lunch and DJ Jimmy Tubridy provided fantastic beach music all day.  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.  Thanks to the 60 cases of water; they really saved the day.  And a special thanks to a young lady who helped out all year but took it to a new level on Saturday.  Caroline Gifford kept scores, filled in brackets, moved referees, handled problems, retrieved nets, answered questions and kept things running smoothly the entire day for everyone playing in the tournament.  Well done!  Now if she could only help Mr. Happy get a championship.  Let the vacations begin.  Now that the season is over everyone should feel free to take a trip.  All of 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.  For 2017, opening day will be on Wednesday night 5/31 and the playoff Saturday will be on 8/12.  (How do we know?  We look at an old-fashioned paper calendar and mark the dates off.)  Please respond to all invitations to weddings, christenings, parties and car dealership openings on that date with a polite, “I can’t make it to your silly affair because I will be at Riis Park with a thousand of my friends from 10 AM to 10 PM having more fun than a barrel of monkeys.”  

 

See you on the beach 5/24/17 for RBVL practice night.