Nearly 650 teams compete in annual volleyball tournament
You’ve all seen the time-lapse photography of a sunset/sunrise, people filing into a stadium and the construction of a building or structure.
Well, picture this. The first court for the 6th annual Susquehanna Smash Volleyball Tournament was in place by 8 a.m. this past Friday.
Throughout the day, net after net popped up until 78 were in place. This was all done in anticipation of the 641 teams in 22 divisions that competed on the grass courts at the Warwick Linear Park in Lititz on Saturday and Sunday.
The coordinators of the “Smash” are Warwick High School girls volleyball coach Brad Glouner and Manheim Central High boys coach Craig Dietrich. Glouner is also the Director of Volleyball Operations at the new Spooky Nook Sports complex in Manheim.
Set-up wasn’t the only challenge for Glouner, Dietrich and 25 (many family) volunteers. Dietrich’s brother Ryan was the general announcer and provided play-by-play coverage at center court.
“We use two-way radios, a couple of golf carts and two sound systems that can be heard throughout the park,” Ryan said. “The biggest challenge is to remember all the names in the quad (4 against 4) matches.”
Ryan’s secret to keeping his voice over the two 12 hour days?
“Green tea with honey,” he said.
Another issue was how to feed the more than 3,000 players, family, friends and spectators. Food venders included The Cat’s Meow of Manheim (extensive menu), Salad Works of Lititz, Dutch Country Concessions (soft pretzels) and Tropical Smoothies.
Injury and health concerns were overseen by the Warwick Ambulance crew, who were also on duty last year.
“Much of what we treat is strains and sprains as most of these athletes know when enough is enough,” an ambulance crew member said.
There was a serious health issue last year, when a parent went into cardiac arrest in the parking lot. This year’s worst case was a broken toe.
All of this effort allows the Susquehanna Smash to donate funds to the American Cancer Society for research. This year’s contribution was $1,500.
The money was raised in a number of ways. Entry fees and sponsors formed the base. A photo booth allowed donors to purchase four post-card sized memories of the tournament. And five dollars was all it cost to launch three serves over the net. If one of the three struck a prize, it was yours to keep.
With all of the adult divisions in which to compete, how do you know where you fit in?
“In the volleyball community, you know which division you belong in based on level of play,” Glouner explained. If you never competed before, you’re a ‘B.’ If you win your division, you move up for the next tournament.”
So how were the matches scored?
“We use the old school volleyball rules and side-out scoring,” Glouner said. “You can only score when you serve.”
Any adult division winner can choose to have their entry fee paid at the season-ending “Motherlode” Tournament on Labor Day weekend in Aspen Colo.
The “Smash” participants came from near and far, carrying resumes ranging from first-timers to veterans of several decades. States represented included New York, New Jersey, and Maryland as well as Virginia, North Carolina and as far as Michigan.
Manuelita Kardos, who was born in Peru, won the travel prize. The 20-year volleyball veteran has lived in the U.S. for three years. She and her tournament partner Carolyn Mooney are co-coaches of a girls team in the Philadelphia area. They competed in the Women’s Pro (Open) Division.
Mooney talked about how active their team had been, and the growth of the Women’s Divisions, saying, “We probably played in six or seven tournaments this year. Where I see the most growth is in the Junior Divisions. We still have some catching up to do, to get even with men’s numbers.”
On Saturday, there were 232 men’s teams, while 120 women’s pairs competed.
Local men’s pair Bob Swisher (Lancaster) and Mark Bennett (Millersville) have played together for 28 years and competed in the 45-and-older Division. The oldest player, Bo Frazer, is somewhere between 65 and 70 years old, but won’t tell for the record. They don’t play as often as they used to, but Bennett said the sense of community and reunion is still there.
“That’s why we set up our tent so close to the entrance, because there are so many people that we know,” he remarked. “Of course, now there are also children of people that we know. We could go back 25 years and have specific memories from each event.”
Brothers Christopher and Celtson Toote were born in the Bahamas. Chris lives in Durham, N.C. and is a graduate of Messiah College. Celtson is a current student at Messiah. The “Smash” was only their second tournament.
“We are both traditional defensive players,” Christopher said, “so we are trying to figure out the dynamics of playing together and going to the net.”
The biggest prize from the weekend ($2,000) went to the winning pair of Eric Zaun and Chris Vaughan of New Jersey in the Men’s Pro Division. Because of their NCAA status in college volleyball, they are donating the funds to their local youth volleyball organization. The $1,000 second prize went to Pennsylvania residents Chad Nolan (Lebanon) and Christen Hartnett (Exton).
The Women’s Open top prize of $900 was captured by Kristen Deonarine and Roberta McGuiney. Prizes were also awarded in 20 additional Men’s, Women’s, Junior, Co-ed and Quad Divisions.
Hempfield High School junior-to-be Marissa Wonders, 16, teamed with Kady Faller to win the Women’s ‘A’ Division and partnered with Julia Crabtree to capture top prize in the 16-and-under Junior Division. She will compete next year as a Pro. Manheim’s Deb Halsey paired with Melissa Ingraham to finish third in the Women’s ‘BB’ Division.
Other local place-winners included the Hempfield team of Katie Minnich and Megan Christe, grabbing second in the 12-and-under Junior Girls Division, while Black Knights teammate Graycn Krawizcki earned third place in the same division. Recent Manheim Township grad J.J. Ruhl teamed with Jacob Landis to capture third place in the Junior Boys 18-and-under Division.
Warwick girls competing in the “Smash” included senior Gia Gruett, junior Kristen Sellers, sophomore Jayna Class, and freshmen Cassy Sellers, Madelyn Glouner, Olivia Orndorff and Lexi Landis. Also playing were eighth-graders Claire Long, Mia Ludwig and fifth-grader Ashley Glouner.
Sponsors for the Susquehanna Smash Tournament included Spooky Nook Sports, Apple Nissan, Spalding, Lititz Mutual, Todd Auker Construction, Wacor Electronic Systems, Keystone Manufactured Homes, The Turkey Lady, Benchmark Construction, Attitude Alley, Ensinger Graphics, Goods Disposal Services, Ira Steffy & Son, Elite Coach, AM Jewelry and McConkey & Co.
What started on a damp Saturday morning ended under light rain on Sunday evening. The camaraderie was still in evidence late in the day, as many groups sat under cover, reminiscing about the tournament.