Spieler-Van Winden repeat as Santa Barbara Open champs

 

It was the family final Sunday at the California Beach Volleyball Association Santa Barbara Women’s Open.

On one side of the net, you had cousins Katie Spieler and Torrey Van Winden defending their title on home sand. On the other side, there was Patti Cook, 12 weeks pregnant with her third child, and partner Dana Kobashima, a newlywed who was married on Friday.

After celebrating on Friday night, recovering on Saturday and battling through some tough competition on a warm Sunday afternoon, the local teams ended up playing a three-set final in front of the Cabrillo Bath House. Spieler and Van Winden won a tight first set and rebounded from a resounding second-set defeat to repeat as Santa Barbara Open champions. The set scores were 22-20, 9-21, 15-10.

The fifth-seeded Spieler-Van Winden went on a 5-1 run down the stretch in the third set.

Torrey Van Winden, from Napa, partnered with cousin Katie Spieler to win the 2015 Santa Barbara CBVA Open. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Torrey Van Winden, right, partnered with cousin Katie Spieler to win the 2015 Santa Barbara CBVA Open. (Presidio Sports Photo)

“It’s surreal,” said the 6-4 Van Winden, a senior in high school in Napa. “It’s awesome playing with Katie. The cousin stuff and the honor of playing on her home beach with all the support from the sidelines all day is great.”

Spieler said playing Cook and Kabashima in an all-local final was special.

“It was crazy it was an all-Santa Barbara final,” she said. “If you go down the coast, that never happens. It’s never two local teams. It’s a testament to how good the players are in Santa Barbara, and we’re just blessed to live her and play each other.”

Asked how she felt playing with a baby on board, Cook replied: “Surprisingly okay. I thought I was going to get a lot more tired than I did, but baby was my little battery in there, helping me keep going.”

Spieler-Van Winden were down 20-19 in the first set after a missed cut shot. They got the point back on a deep shot by Van Winden and took the lead, 21-20, when Cook-Kobashima missed a dink. Van Winden scored the winning point on a deep middle hit.

“Torrey is unbelievable,” said Spieler, who is entering her senior year at Hawaii. “Both years (she’s played in Santa Barbara), she’s flown in from the Junior Olympics indoor, hasn’t practiced all summer on the beach and can come out here and play like she does. She is so raw right now. That’s what is unreal because with time she’s just going to go off. She’s just going to exponentially keep getting better. It’s a blessing to play with her.”

Van Winden, who’s committed to UCLA for indoor and sand volleyball, said playing with her cousin is a dream.

“If I could build up a dream partner, it would be Katie. I’m so blessed, truly blessed. She’s everything that makes me wants to be better,” Van Winden said.

Van Winden is blown away by the exquisite touch Spieler possesses on her shots.

“You’ll hear me screaming beautiful because it’s the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Cook-Kobashima caught fire at the start of the second set and never let up. They scored eight straight points before Spieler-Van Winden got on the board.

“I think it was our defense, mostly,” said Cook, the women’s volleyball coach at Westmont. “Our defense was really good in the second game.”

Said Kobashima: “I think it was just some lucky guesses. Patti was dominating at the net we were getting lucky on our digs. It’s all a toss-up because Katie and Torrey are so good.”

The all-local final featured, from left, Patti Cook and Dana Kabashima against Katie Spieler and Torrey Van Winden. Spieler-Van Winden won the title in three sets.

The all-local final featured, from left, Patti Cook and Dana Kabashima against Katie Spieler and Torrey Van Winden. Spieler-Van Winden won in three sets to repeat as champions.

Kobashima married Markus Beck on Friday. Beck said he understood how important this tournament was for his new bride and was at the beach on Sunday rooting her on.

“This is like our one home tournament of the year,” Kobashima about playing two days after the wedding.

“Patti and Dana are probably my biggest role models in volleyball,” said Spieler. “Dana just got married on Friday; she had tons of relatives in town, she was up late. She’s amazing.

“Patti is pregnant … she’s played through two pregnancies already. They’re both just studly players and great overall people. To play them in the finals was really special.”

After the second-set blowout, Speiler and Van Winden talked about regrouping and going all out in the deciding set.

“In our timeout, Katie was like: ‘We have to get this energy; it’s like the finish of a race.’ We had a really good pep talk and came back out and played well. We actually played well all day. That second set was sort of showing how tired we were.”

Said Spieler: “What I’m most proud of is how we bounced back from that (second set). I think that’s a testament to Torrey as a player. She’s like relentless. She’s always telling me, ‘Hey, we can win this game no matter how far we’re down.’ She’s mentally tough. On the break, she said: ‘This is the last 15 points I’ll play today, I’m going to go all out.’”

In the semifinals, Spieler-Van Winden defeated Elise Zappia-Jenna Beltran, 21-17, 21-17, while Cook-Kobashima knocked out Jace Pardon-Jansen Button, 21-19, 21-16.

In the quarterfinals, Cook-Kobashima defeated Abril Bustamonte-Sarah Sponcil and Spieler-Van Winden outlasted Skylar Caputo-Maddy Roh. Elise Zappia-Jenna Beltran defeated Terri Del Conte and Jacqueline Wood, and Pardon-Button beat Sara Frederickson-Mackenzie Brook in the other quarterfinal matches.

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