In a vacuum of only this VLA regular season, they were the best team. In the larger picture of their players’ past, it's hard to find a more decorated roster.
Still, a lack of matchups between the top six teams and the defending champions Icemen’s home court advantage was enough to create some uncertainty and intrigue.
“We knew we had a good chance to win, but we knew we would have to make some changes and sacrifices to elevate our level to accomplish that goal,” said team representative Chris Hosley of the team’s mindset heading into the weekend.
The Icemen, Team Pineapple, and Rising Tide had every right to believe Team LVC’s regular season might have looked different had they faced each other. Even the Bounce, who Team LVC was 4-1 against throughout the regular season, and the Ascension, who’s only matchup with Team LVC was a five-set loss, had reason to believe they could be the ones to take down the top seed.
Confidence however, was also not a problem on Team LVC’s side of things. Both as individuals and as a team, in the VLA and elsewhere, they knew first-hand what championship volleyball required.
“We have played all these teams for years and watched them a bunch throughout this year. We know most of the players on each team, so there is not much of a change, just adapting to the flow of each match,” said Hosley. “If [we win], it will be because of clean, high-level volleyball.''
Such confidence was on full display this past weekend. Team LVC dominated their pool play matchups, beating Team Pineapple in four sets and sweeping the Ascension, to earn a spot in the semifinals.
In the play-in match that determined their semifinal opponent, the Rising Tide and Team Pineapple battled through five long and tightly-contested sets for a shot at the regular season champions. Team Pineapple prevailed, but they did not improve on their pool play match against Team LVC in the rematch. In pool play, Team Pineapple won the second set and made sets three and four tight contests. But in the semi-final Team LVC elevated into a higher gear and dominated the entire match, not allowing Team Pineapple to score more than 18 points in any of the sweep’s three sets.
Team LVC drew the Icemen in the championship match, a clear battle for VLA supremacy between the league’s two best teams. Both were the only teams to go undefeated throughout the tournament; the Icemen as two-time defending champions and Team LVC as regular season champions.
“We really didn’t feel a ton of pressure to win. Chicago had won the last two championships so we came in knowing they were the real favorites, especially playing in their hometown, said Hosley. We tried to not let any of those things derail our focus on each other and our goal of winning.”
The Icemen did not go out without a strong showing, but Team LVC prevailed in a convincing four set victory.
For their season-long domination, multiple Team LVC players received All-VLA end of season honors. Setter Joby Ramos was named the league’s most valuable player. Opposite Jordan Varee and middle blocker Blake Leeson were named to the first team, and outside hitter Dave Evans was named to the league’s second team.
At every turn this season, Team LVC responded with more evidence as to why they were the best team in the VLA. In the championship tournament, they only dropped two sets. And when the 2022 VLA season was all said and done, they left no doubt.