MAUMEE, Ohio -- There's a new rivalry brewing in Women's Three-Wall! Defending champ Hilary Rushe and challenger Ashley Moler thrilled the Labor Day crowd on hand as well as the throng of online viewers to one of the most exciting Women's Open finals in recent years. While Rushe successfully defended her crown by edging Moler 16-21, 21-1, 11-10. You can still watch this and other matches from Toledo on the U.S. Handball YouTube Channel HERE.
Hoping to unseat the defending champ, Moler forced the action in game one, delivering punishing power shots and pushing serves "out-the-door" for aces to reach a 20-12 lead. With confidence running high, Moler appeared to have the first game in hand, but Rushe battled back with a four-point run before missing a near-kill only inches from the crack. That late run set the tone for the second game, and Rushe answered Moler's challenge with purpose and force behind her shots.
Moler took note, "[Rushe] definitely started hitting the ball harder and playing more aggressively in that second game." While Moler didn't let up, Rushe made sure the match would go to a third set. In the tiebreaker, the two played to a stalemate as each had an opportunity for match point at 10-10. Moler dove at a potential championship point, just missing a rekill. With both players playing to their limit and with bloodied knees, Moler couldn't return Rushe's deep serve to the left and conceded match point. As the two players completed a post-match hug and congratulations, it was obvious the crowd appreciated the effort and wanted more. This possible "rivalry" stays between the court lines, as the two opponents paired to win the Women's Doubles to complete Rushe's Three-Wall Nationals slam.
Labor Day ushered the conclusion of the Three-Wall Nationals with a number of doubles finals. In Men's Open Three-Wall Big Ball Doubles, Braulio Ruiz and Carlos Lemus struggled early to keep pace with New York's Chris Miranda and Allan Sanchez but ultimately won the title, 14-21, 21-2, 11-6. Sanchez and Miranda both dominated front court play, building an early lead and capitalizing on their opponent's mistakes. While Ruiz and Lemus were frustrated early-on, they settled in nicely to start the second game building a big 16-1 lead as Ruiz caught fire-ending rallies with kills. Forcing most of their serves deep and off the walls, Ruiz and Lemus continued to keep their opponents deep and from making plays in the front court. The second game success carried over into the tiebreaker, although Sanchez and Miranda made adjustments in the tiebreaker, they only managed six points after falling behind early.
|Men's Open Three-Wall Big Ball Doubles.
| In Men's Open Three-Wall Small Ball Doubles, Marcos Chavez and Sean Lenning earned another title by holding off a second-game surge from Tyree and Jurell Bastidas to win 21-9, 21-19. The pair showed why they're the best doubles team in three-wall, as Chavez jumped all over their opponent's shots with rekills while Lenning unleashed his lethal service game. The Bastidas brothers pressed hard in the second to force a tiebreaker as they maintained a lead at 19-17 before running into a spot of bad luck. Tyree's first serve went into the floor followed by a Chavez shot that went just beyond Jurell's reach. A Chavez kill would tie the score at 19 before the champions would win match point, drawing a celebratory shout and a ball-toss by Chavez. The win sealed a slam for both: Lenning in the Men's Open, Chavez in the Masters and Open Doubles.
|Chris Miranda steps into a shot in the Men's Wallball Doubles final.
In Men's Open Wallball Doubles, Chris Miranda and Allan Sanchez played mistake-free handball, showing the three-wall crowd the fast-paced close action of Wallball doubles. Playing against the Bastidas brothers, who had just finished the Three-Wall final moments before, Miranda and Sanchez didn't show any mercy en route to a two-game 21-6, 21-6 win.
Watch the streaming video of the matches on the United States Handball Association's Facebook Page HERE.
See results and draws HERE.