After spending the off-season recuperating from their undefeated run to win the 2020 NVA Championships, the Utah Stingers are back to business as usual with the start of their first event in 2021. Starting just where they ended last season, the Utah Stingers came through with another 3-0 appearance, only dropping one set the whole weekend. Going up against the NVA’s newest teams, the Dallas Tornadoes and the relocated Texas Tyrants, the Stingers welcome them to the league by showing them how tough the reigning champs can be.
Some notable performances from the weekend include Paul Clark, selected as player of the match against the Tornadoes. Paul made some aggressive plays at the net, scoring three aces, two blocks, and ten kills, hitting 56% efficiency. The big man, Jake Langlois, continued to be an unstoppable force with a flurry of back row attacks scoring double-digit kills in each match he played. The newest international recruit from Cuba, Inovel Romero Valdés, took on the role of the team’s outlet player receiving 62 sets on the weekend with almost perfect reception with no errors. Then middle blockers held some of the best overall hitting percentages in the league, with Alex Shmelev hitting 58% and Rusty Lavaja hitting 64%.
After their final match against the Tyrants, Setter Leo Durkin sat down with announcer Nick England to share his thoughts on the team’s outlook moving forward in the season.
“We’re just here to have a lot of fun…For the most part, we are a bunch of old guys with jobs who are still eager to play high-level volleyball…As a team, we’re still not completely gelling together with the recent additions of Romero and Mencia, but that will smooth itself out in no time.” – Leo Durkin.
The Utah Stingers will be flying out to Atlantic City next in the event, where they will be taking on last year’s third-place team, the Vegas Ramblers. The Ramblers are currently tied with the Stingers after also going 3-0 on the first weekend and will be tough opponents. UCLA Alumni Brandon Rattray, the league’s point leader with 6.2 kills per set, will be the man to beat on the Ramblers. The match is set to take place on May 28th at 11:30 am PST and live-streamed on the NVA USA YouTube page!