p1440 intrasquad tournament

Wheeler-Tiegs, Clemens-Maarek Win p1440 First Instrasquad Titles of 2020

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BOLSA CHICA, Huntington Beach – It had been almost four months since Allie Wheeler last competed, which can feel like an eternity in beach volleyball, when the months of May through October are packed with tournaments almost every weekend.

In two weeks, however, she’ll be on the road again, flying around the world to Siem Reap, Cambodia, for a two-star FIVB with Aurora Davis. Which is why it was so valuable for Wheeler to compete in Thursday’s p1440 Instrasquad tournament, the third of the fall/winter session.

Wheeler and Tiegs won four matches during Thursday’s single elimination tournament, topping Alexa Strange and Jessica Gaffney 22-24, 21-14, 15-12 in the finals.

“Awesome, volley all day, 24/7,” Wheeler said afterwards. “Really, it’s great practice, great competition. It was great practice. I’m just trying to get back into the mindset of competing. The biggest thing for me is getting back in that mindset. I’ll start off really slow but I just need to remind myself to get in a good warm up and really just get back into it.”

That is the idea of the developmental program, and the Intrasquad tournaments in general: To prepare the athletes to compete at the professional level. Wheeler will soon be meeting up with Aurora Davis, with whom she won gold at a NORCECA in Bonaire, to compete in a single-elimination qualifier, the same format of Thursday’s tournament.

“I haven’t played the wind in a very long time,” Wheeler said. “It was great to get that practice because I have no idea if it’s windy or what in Cambodia.”

But now she’s prepared for whatever the elements may throw at her, as were Branden Clemens and Dylan Maarek, who endured five matches on the men’s side to win their second title as a team.

The two have both taken a few weeks off with minor injuries, Clemens with a tweaked ankle, Maarek with shin splints. They came back in a notable manner on Thursday, winning all five matches, including the final two that were in 20 mile per hour winds, beating DR Vander Meer and Logan Webber – winners of the previous Intrasquad championship – in the final, 21-19, 21-18.

“It felt good, definitely had to deal with the ankle but I got a brace, had lots of Tylenol, and luckily Dylan’s digs were good enough that I didn’t have to run around too much,” said Clemens, who missed almost all of last season with a torn ACL.

“Good tournament adversity, it worked in our favor pretty well,” Maarek said. “Getting back into the swing of it feels great. Feeling pretty good.”

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