Spike It Up: CPP students, alumni face off in ASI spikeball tournament

By Alexander Novoa, Nov. 14, 2023

In response to increasing demand from Cal Poly Pomona students, ASI hosted a spikeball tournament at the Bronco Commons Friday, Nov. 3

Eight participants, including students and alumni, paired up into teams of two to compete in the competition. Players competed in a best of three sets format, with each set going up to 21 points and the final tiebreaker set going to 15.

Spikeball is similar to volleyball but with a few key differences. Instead of hitting the ball over a net, players spike the ball onto a circular net on the ground and can be played outdoors, in places like the beach and park, as well as indoors on a gym court.

To start the game, a player serves the ball to the opposing team, which initiates the first play. Each team has up to three touches to return the serve by bouncing the ball off the net, and the volley continues until one team cannot return the ball within their given touches.

ASI’s intramural sports supervisor, Cole Ellison, mentioned that he enjoys working ASI tournaments and has seen a rise in the popularity of CPP sports competitions.

“I worked the teqball tournament, which was fun and a cool experience because I knew nothing about the sport,” said Ellison. “We always do a variety of tournaments throughout the year. Some turnouts will be higher than others, but whoever does show up seems to have fun.”

Ellison explained the game rules to new players and randomly determined the bracket order. He announced that this year’s tournament prize would be intramural sports T-shirts awarded to the winning team.

The first round began with mechanical engineering student Willem Sniffin and business administration student Nick Grovhoug facing off against marketing student Ethan Lew and civil engineering student Tanios Ghaoui. Both teams were going back and forth, exchanging even plays, resulting in a close game.

The first game ended with Sniffin and Grovhoug winning the first set 21-17 and the second set 21-14.

Grovhoug mentioned he had some experience in the sport.

“I used to play a lot back in high school but have not played it much in the last couple of years,” said Grovhoug. “We do not have a plan, but we are just trying to be unpredictable. That’s kind of all you really can do in this game.”

Tanios Ghaoui stretches to set up a play for teammate Ethan Lew. | Alexander Novoa

On the opposite side of the playing field, mechanical engineering students Ethan Pellicane and Zander DeRenard played against finance alumnus Joshua Morisaki and mechanical engineering student Johnny Qiu.

Qiu and Morisaki displayed an outstanding performance in both sets with their skillful play. They dominated the game throughout, leaving their opponents with no chance to catch up, winning both sets 21-12 and 21-11 and advancing them to play against Sniffin and Grovhoug.

“I think it’s unfortunate that we are just a different level, but it is a tournament, and there are two different ways of playing spikeball,” said Morisaki. “You either play hard or you play friendly. So, unfortunately, this is just to play it hard, try to put it away every time.”

Before the final match between Qiu and Morisaki against Sniffon and Grovhoug began, Lew and Ghaoui battled it out against Pellicane and DeRenard for the third-place spot.

Lew and Ghaoui were off to a great start in the first set with both players working together seamlessly. Their communication skills were on point, allowing them to anticipate each other’s moves and respond accordingly throughout the rest of the sets. They stayed ahead of their opponents with a consistent rhythm and secured the third-place victory.

Ellison announced that due to time constraints, the final game would be best of three sets with games going up to 15 points instead of 21 and the teams must still win by two points.

The start of the final game was intense with both teams trading points. Eventually, Sniffin and Grovhoug showed their skills and took an early lead in the first set, winning 16-14.

Qiu and Morisaki adjusted their strategy in the second set by positioning differently than the previous set. Qiu went closer to the net and Morisaki went farther back. This allowed them to retrieve the opposite team’s shallow and powerful serves. Additionally, they alternated their roles, giving them an advantage that helped them secure wins in the second set 18-16 and the final set 15-12, declaring them the tournament winners.

Qiu noted that the tournament’s final game was the toughest.

“I think we just got too close to them and were too friendly, which I think was messing with our mojo,” said Qiu. “This is my first time winning a spikeball tournament, but I’m glad to have made some new friends.”

Feature image by Alexander Novoa

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