Game 3, Orlando Southern Exposure V.S Texas Tyrants
After the first three points for both teams, the Texas Tyrants made an early pull away with a pair of kills from Anthony Robinson and Gianluca Grasso. At the same time, Southern Exposure’s Chad Mercado continued to create a series of hitting and serving errors. The gap was solidified at 13-7 after Austen Lovett had back-to-back blocks. Southern Exposure couldn’t seem to find a way to get the ball to hit the floor, with Julian Rivera putting up six digs until it was too late to catch back up 19-12. Still, Southern Exposure made a trying effort scoring on a pair of three straight Tyrants errors while being down 17-22, with the set ending at 25-22 for the Tyrants.
The roles reversed quickly as Derek Sullivan gave two early blocks and Mercado with a kill and ace. At the same time, the Tyrants made a string of errors giving Southern Exposure a 10-5 lead. However, rallying behind a stuff block by Ryan Maune, Grasso, and Gabriel Quinones began scoring again to bring the Tyrants back to 10-10 and force Southern Exposure to take a time out. Three straight kills from Lovett and Robinson gave the Tyrants their first solid lead of the match at 15-13. Again, a string of errors from Mercado pushed the Tyrants lead to 22-17. The Tyrants finished set 2 with authority with a service ace from Maune to put the score at 25-19.
To begin the third set, Gianluca obliterated a ball down the line, showing Southern Exposure no concern for their safety. Both teams went to battle, each presenting their arsenal with a flurry of kills, tip, blocks, and aces, bringing the match to 9-9. Both sides had a series of five service errors that showed the low point of what men’s volleyball can be. Two massive blocks from Maune late in the match gave the Tyrants a debilitating lead at 23-21. After a time out, Southern Exposure was able to tie the game at 23-23 with a kill from Tyler Hubbard-Neil. But that was short-lived as the Tyrants cleaned up with a tip kill from Grasso and a stuff block from Lovett to end the game 25-23.
Game 4: Texas Tyrants v.s Los Angeles Blaze
Set one begins with an error from Bugs on a double set, but they quickly get that point back after a massive block from Greg Faulkner. The Tyrants side out with a kill from Tim Johnson, and they receive the ball and Gianluca Grasso goes back on a three point service run accompanied by an overpass kill, score is 4-1 Tyrants. The Blaze answer back with a kill from LA8 and Jonathan Rodriguez, but the Tyrants capitalize on their big block from Ryan Maune and a missed serve takes them into a timeout 8-5 Texas in the lead. The LA Blaze come out of the timeout and notch a kill from Rafeal Cruz, but an error from Greg Faulkner and a kill from Gian give the Tyrants a four point lead, 10-6. The BLaze call a timeout but out of the timeout they commit an error and a block from Gianluca Grasso and a kill from Anthony Robinson give the Tyrants a demanding seven point lead. The Blaze answer back with kills from Pablo Guzman and Rafael Cruz, but still are prone to too many errors, score 16-8 Texas. The Tyrants begin to roll on the Blaze as Daniel Johnson gets two kills but Daniel Jacobs gets three kills and a block. Final Score 25-25 Texas Tyrants.
Set two picks up right where set one left off, with the Tyrants just on an absolute roll. Ryan Maune gets three blocks and a kill, and Gianluca Grasso and Anthony Robinson both get kills to help out. The Tyrants lead 8-3 going into the technical timeout. Coming out of the timeout the Blaze starts getting Jonathan Rodriguez the ball as he goes two for two, but a block and a kill by Gianluca Grasso and an ace by Ryan Maune allow them to stay in the lead, score 12-7 Tyrants. The Blaze come out of the timeout with a little momentum with a block by Travis O’Gorman and Jonathan Rodriguez each and an error by Gianluca Grasso gets the score up to 12-10 Tyrants lead. Although the Blaze attempted to get some momentum back Daniel Johnson came in with a kill and two blocks to get the score to 16-12, Tyrants lead. The Tyrants continued with the momentum as Daniel Johnson decided to take over the game with three kills and two blocks. Jonathan Rodriguez and Travis O’Gorman attempted a response but the Tyrants continued to sideout consistently, 22-17 Tyrants. The Blaze had trouble getting their offense together after two errors and were sent off the court with an ace from Gianluca Grasso, final score 25-18 Tyrants.
The LA Blaze came out of the side switch a little more fired up than the previous two sets, forcing the Tyrants to make a lot of hitting errors, but a block by Austin Lovett and multiple kills from Tim Johnson allowed the Tyrants to go into the technical timeout up 8-7. Once again the Tyrants came out of the timeout with some energy, as they started to feed Tim Johnson and Gianluca Grasso the ball as they both started racking up kills. Jonathan Rodriguez tried to slow them down with some kills as well but was not as effective as the Tyrants were able to push to an 18-14 lead. LA started to come back after multiple errors by the Tyrants and Steven Morales and Travis O’Gorman started to string together some kills, tying up the game at 20-20. Both teams then started to trade blows back and forth until an error by the Tyrants and a bic kill by Travis O’Gorman gave the LA Blaze the win, 26-28.
Set four started off more even then the previous sets with both teams trading sideouts, Tyrants relying on Daniel Johnson to gather most of their kills and Travis O’Gorman grabbing points for the Blaze. A hitting error from Pedro Nieves brings the teams into the timeout with Tyrants in the lead 8-5. The Tyrants come out of the timeout on fire, setting Austin Lovett and Ginaluca Grasso consistently, giving them a huge 17-10 lead. Jonathan Rodriguez once again starts to get hot as the Blaze string together some runs to bring the score as close to 20-16, but multiple errors and a huge block from Austin Lovett gave the Texas Tyrants the win. Final Score 25-19.
Game 1: Texas Tyrants V.S Dallas Tornadoes
The long-anticipated matchup between the Texas Tyrants and Dallas Tornadoes showed a grudge match from start to finish, with the Tyrants determined to become the kings of the south. With an early lead of 8-4, Tim Johnson scored two kills soaring high above the block. Middle Ryan Maune continued to be an impenetrable wall at the net while also running fast tempo routes. All-star Cuban Felix Chapman fought to perform the same as he did the day before with 30 points. Still, the long weekend looked to have taken a toll on Chapman’s abilities, eventually being subbed out after the Tyrants pulled ahead to 14-6. The Tyrants steamrolled through the final set as Daniel Jacobs checked into the match scoring four of the Tyrants’ last five points to end the set 25-17.
Getting off to a quick start, Tyrants middle Zakir Pasha gained an early lead (3-1) with two kills and a block. After taking some time to re-energize on the bench, Steven Roschitz came back ready to fill in the gaps for his team, scoring five kills to get within one point behind the Tyrants at 11-12. Maune continued to be a threat while he was in rotation in the front row, scoring another five points to get the team up to 23-20. Another ace from Anthony Robinson secured a game point. At the same time, Robinson’s reception and defense prevented the Tornadoes from responding as the Tyrants took the set 25-21.
The Tyrants capitalized on superior blocking, with the Tornadoes unable to keep a positive connection on offense. Ryan Maune gained another four blocks, which seemed to take away any energy the Tornadoes had left. Already behind 6-11, the Tornadoes became terminal with attacking errors while Gianluca Grasso and Tim Johnson destroyed the Dallas blocks on both sides of the pin, pushing the Tyrants’ lead to 21-11. Proving to be one of the best middle blockers of the weekend, Ryan Maune stamped his name as MVP of the match. Ending the set (25-14) with 2 consecutive blocks, Maune reached seven total blocks in the game and 14 total points.