The World Players of Handball was proud to be on site at the 65th USHA National Four-Wall Championships at the Los Caballeros Sports Village in Fountain Valley, CA and to provide live streaming coverage on race4eight.com.
Catriona Casey entered the final as the defending champion and the #1 player in women’s handball. Casey advanced to the final with impressive two-game victories over Maria Dugas and Cianna Ni Churraoin. Last year’s finalist Aisling Reilly advanced to the women’s final for the fourth consecutive year with two-game victories over Lisa Fraser-Gilmore and Danielle Daskalakis. Casey had defeated Reilly in seven of their previous eight encounters, including a tiebreaker thriller to overcome Reilly in their last encounter at the WPH Player’s Championship in Salt Lake City.
Casey started the final flawlessly, scoring the first six points on perfectly placed kill shots. Reilly found her stride midway through game one, but Casey maintained her early-game advantage and stretched her lead late in the opening frame to take a one-game lead, 21-11.
Fueled by her game one disappointment in game two, Reilly built a 6-0 lead with blistering power and precision in game two. Reilly never allowed Casey into the second game, dominating the frontcourt and forcing a tiebreaker, 21-8. Reilly maintained her momentum in the tiebreaker, racing to a 4-0 lead and seemingly on the verge on capturing one of the most prestigious titles in women’s handball. Casey regrouped, as she has done several times this season, demonstrating the heart and will of a champion. Making incredible retrieves and clutch kill shots, Casey scored the final 11 points of the match to defend her title, 21-11, 8-21, 11-4.
“Hard luck to Aisling as it’s always a tough battle when we play,” stated Casey during the awards presentation. “I want to thank the USHA, all of the referees and linesman and my family watching at home.”
Aisling Reilly exacted a measure of revenge in the women’s doubles final, teaming with Cianna Ni Churraoin to defeat Catriona Casey and Aoife McCarthy in two games, 21-14, 21-11.
Three of the four men’s doubles finalists owned national doubles titles and the two teams electrified in the three-game final. Mando Ortiz teamed with LAAC club mate Vic Perez while good friends Sean Lenning and Marcos Chavez reformed their partnership that has seen them win multiple national 3-Wall doubles championships. Lenning and Chavez stole game one after rallying from a 17-20 deficit on the heels of four straight points on Lenning kills. Ortiz and Perez dominated game two to force a tiebreaker, as Ortiz executed 17 kill shots in the 21-14 victory.
Ortiz and Perez maintained their momentum to start the tiebreaker, building a 5-0 lead. Lenning and Chavez scored 10 of the next 11 points to serve for the match at 10-6 on the strength of an array of kill from both Lenning and Chavez. Ortiz and Perez battled back, earning a side out and scoring three consecutive points to come within one point of serving for the match at 9-10, but a back wall flat rollout from Chavez took Ortiz and Perez out of the box and a right wall sliding kill by Chavez ended the match for Lenning and Chavez, 21-20, 14-21, 11-9.
The first 4-Wall big ball doubles final featured two of the top three WPH Outdoor pros and two of the most exciting players in the sport. Samzon “The Machine” Hernandez teamed with Ricky Ruiz, advancing to the final with a come-from-behind semifinal victory over WPH Outdoor #1 Juan Santos and Alfredo Morales. Marcos Chavez teamed with Gabino “G man” Vasquez and advanced to the final with a three-game semifinal victory over Sal Duenas and Chava Cordova.
Hernandez and Ruiz started slowly in game one, trailing 10-5 before scoring 16 of the final 17 points in game one. Hernandez and Ruiz found themselves down 0-8 to start game two before rallying again, scoring 12 straight points to take a 12-8 lead. Team Hernandez/Ruiz increased their lead late in game two to claim the first 4-Wall big ball national doubles title, 21-11, 21-13.
Live streaming on race4eight.com will be possible because of the generous donations of the USHA and WPH. Thank you! To follow the action from 65th USHA National Four-Wall Championships, log onto ushandball.org and wphlive.tv. To follow the brackets and scores, click Here.
WPH Senior Writer