Swartzendruber, Knopf defend MotherLode crown | PostIndependent.com

Swartzendruber, Knopf defend MotherLode crown

Steve Benson
Aspen Times

For the second consecutive year, local favorites Krista Swartzendruber and Angela Knopf captured the women’s open title in the MotherLode Volleyball Classic.

They are the first team to win back-to-back women’s open titles since 1990, when Shawn Hoover and Kim Harsch-Bird won their second-straight crown.

Swartzendruber, a Glenwood Springs High School graduate, and Knopf, from Troutdale, Ore., were the No. 1 seeds in women’s open division in the 31st annual MotherLode – a big change from last year when they were seeded dead last. On Monday, they defeated Wendy Martin, of Tampa, Fla., and Mel Karwowski, of San Antonio, Texas, 25-19.

Former teammates on the Colorado State University volleyball team, Swartzendruber and Knopf already had a leg-up over several other teams that don’t have as much experience as a team.

“Our communication and ability to read each other gives us an automatic advantage,” Swartzendruber said.

Martin and Karwowski lost to Swartzendruber and Knopf in the finals, but not without a fight. They clawed their way back from the losers bracket and made the finals a lot closer than the former Rams would have liked.

“They’re a great team, they’re fighters, they’re smart,” Swartzendruber said.

Martin was gunning for her second title of the tournament after winning the women’s masters with then partner Samantha Meador on Friday. Martin would eventually face her former partner in the finals of the loser’s bracket, defeating Meador and her partner Julie McGarr, en route to five-straight victories in the elimination bracket and a place in the finals.

In the finals against Swartzendruber and Knopf, Martin and Karwowski won the first match, a best of three round, 21-18, and 21-16, forcing a second match consisting of one final game to 25. Since Martin and Karwowski came from the losers bracket, they were forced to beat Swartzendruber and Knopf twice. If Swartzendruber and Knopf had won the first, best of three match, a final game would not have been necessary.

The local ladies, however, came out a little flat and let the first match slide through their fingers. Maybe it was all the time they spent sitting in the shade – they defeated the third seed team of Samantha Meador and Julie McGarr in the lady’s winner’s bracket early in the afternoon, nearly two hours before they would compete in the finals. Or maybe that’s just the way they play.

“We like to make sure the crowd enjoys the final,” joked Swartzendruber.

Maybe she wasn’t joking, the pair seemed most dominant in all of their matches when things got close.

They were loose and confident, unconcerned and unfazed. While some teams were driven by emotion – high-fiving and cheering, or throwing sand and cursing after every point – Swartzendruber and Knopf just stayed cool. Even after losing back to back games in the first match, there was no yelling, over-excitement, or finger pointing. They were even-keeled, calm and collected.

“We do our best when we’re having fun and playing with each other,” Knopf said. “We were kind of in a little funk, but we moved some things around and made adjustments.”

The duo came out and dominated the final game, setting each other up for one point-winning spike after another. One local fan could be heard yelling, “Hasta la vista, baby!,” with each successive spike.

Will there be a three-peat?

“Unless we’re in another tournament,” said Knopf, who’s been trying to convince Swartzendruber to join her in the AVP pro beach volleyball tour. “But this is a great tournament,” she added.

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