The final night of adult co-ed volleyball play for the season took place at The Center of Anna Maria Island Thursday night. All five teams showed why the championship was not in the bag for the first seed team Solid Rock Construction.
After three matches, the final battle ensued between the top two season finishers: Solid Rock Construction and Planet Stone.
The players of Planet Stone came into the season as defending champions. Finishing with an 8-4 record, the four friends who play together on the sand were the best opponents for the new athletes at the community center.
Solid Rock Construction, a family owned and operated HVAC company, brought two players to the flag football gridiron this winter and soon formed their volleyball powerhouse team.
Footballers James Roadman and brother-in-law Zachary Long added volleyball to their weekly sports schedule along with wives Katy Roadman and Evelyn Long. Katy and Evelyn brought sister Christy Raulerson and brother-in-law Brian Raulerson into the mix to form the family-based team.
Teammate Maria Shanks departed the Solid Rock squad mid-season with a family move out-of-state.
Playing six on four, the Planet Stone foursome held their own historically against the top seed. With nearly identical records going into the big match, a close fight for the championship title was anticipated.
The construction company, with the motto “Built right, the first time,” moved their business from Tampa to Anna Maria this past year to raise their family on the Island. The ladies of team Solid Rock Construction are all sisters with volleyball skills that brought out the best in their husbands.
The first game was close until the end. Patrick and Christine Wright, David Deaver and Rusty Clasman of team Planet Stone, coming off the easy win against Ugly Grouper in two games, moved the volleyball well starting the with the service advantage.
Going up early with two points, Planet Stone maintained their lead until the 21st point, with the score 10-11. Spikes by Z. Long scored for Solid Rock.
Planet Stone stayed in the first game with blocked shots by P. Wright and Deaver, as well as smart plays and perfect hits by C. Wright and Clasman.
The two teams gave the spectators a lot of strong volleyball action with long skill-filled rallies and service aces by both teams.
Despite losing the lead, Planet Stone kept fighting. Hitting the ball with perfect placement, the four players squad forced Z. Long to make a diving hit that landed just wide of the far sideline.
The Solid Rock Construction brothers-in-law, including B. Raulerson who also works with the family business, strategically placed themselves at the line at any given time creating a strong defensive barrier.
With the score 18-24 at game point for Solid Rock, J. Roadman took advantage of his location on the front line with a solid hit over the net with blazing velocity whizzing right past the Planet Stone front line player, C. Wright to end the first game.
Looking make quick work of their opponent, Solid Rock Construction started at the line with the serve and big defensive moves, going up by seven points with the score 10-3.
Planet Stone got stuck with five points on the scoreboard, while Solid Rock continued to increase their lead with the rally scoring system.
Mishits and the inability to decide who was going for the return caused a little turmoil among the Planet Stone squad.
After a long rally, P. Wright ended play with a strong finish finally moving Planet Stone’s score to 16-6. Each team went back and forth adding a point here and another there.
Solid Rock Construction continued to widen the scoring gap with a kill by J. Roadman, taking the game to game and match point.
With the win on the line, J. Roadman moved back into position to serve to end the battle. Once again, the volleyball fell to the ground between all of the Planet Stone players.
Much like the company’s guiding principles, the strong foundation of the Solid Rock Construction volleyball team with communications, perfectly placed sets and strong kills by the big guys in front made for a force to be reckoned with, which could not be defeated in the last night of hard court action.