May 06, 2022 11:00 AM PST

Ramblers Unleash The Beast Against The Stingers.

Led by starting Outside Hitter Jordan Hoppe (22 PTS | 14 Kills, 6 Aces, and 2 Blocks), the Las Vegas Ramblers defeated the Utah Stingers 3-0 | 25-15, 25-21, 25-23. Opposite Hitter Ryan Mather added 11 PTS (9 kills at 53% and 2 Blocks) for the Ramblers in the victory, helping to hold back Stinger's Opposite, Shane Tye, who tallied a team-high 9 PTS | 9 kills for the Stingers in the losing effort.

The Ramblers have continued to bolster their lineup, getting back last year's starting setter Michael Keegan, who immediately connected with Hoppe, who tore apart the Stinger's defense. Also, after losing Sean Dennis to the Stingers in the off-season, the Ramblers made a steal of their own taking middle Kevin Vaz from Southern Exposure, whose strong blocking presence and jump serving proved to be unbeatable.

The Stingers struggled to get their offense going, only hitting 38% as a team, which was an unexpected sight after setter Michael Vellutato held his team to the highest hitting percentage in a match (60%) last season. Still, Olympic Middle Russel Holmes stole the show hitting 67% on six swings, showing the younger players on their court what a player of that caliber can do. The Stingers saw a turnaround in the 3rd set by bringing in the long-awaited arrival of Cuban super star Yosleyder Cala, but it was too little too late to reverse the tide.

The Rambler's relentless serving pressure was the determining factor, scoring 14 aces to the Stinger's three. Additionally, the Ramblers scored better on negative passes at 69% efficiency rather than 58% on a positive pass, while the Stingers could squeeze by kills at only 38%. With the Stingers missing their starting pin hitters, Inovel Romero and Jorge Mencia, they stood little chance against the Rambler's stacked lineup.

The Vegas Ramblers will face off against the Texas Tyrants, who currently look to be the heavy favorites to win the championships this year above the Ramblers. In that match, they will need their continued service pressure to hold Jake Langlois and Gianluca Grasso outside hitters in place. The Utah Stingers will need to get their act together to win against the OC Stunners, who will have outsides Corey Chavers and Joey Jarvis and setter Randy Ramirez. The Trio was instrumental in the Stunner's ability to pull off a 3-0 sweep against the stunners in last year's Championship match.

- NVA Staff Writer