2010 has proved to be one of the most memorable years in history for volleyball in the United States, perhaps for some of the wrong reasons, but also for some shining moments.
On the beach there was, of course, the failure of the AVP. But there was also the continued national and international dominance of Rogers and Dalhausser—who currently rank number one in the world—and the rise of their domestic rivalry with Scott/Hyden, the surprising Jennings/Wong World Championship win in The Hague, the ranking of a new American team atop the Men’s FIVB beach seedings in Fuerbringer/Lucena and the lack of a Walsh/May partnership that opened the door to more parity, drama and excitement on the women’s side than ever before in the shortened AVP season. Women’s teams like Ross/Boss not only exploited this opportunity but gained genuine confidence which carried over to the international side, where three U.S. teams are positioned in the top 10 in world rankings.
NCAA play saw a legendary year of dramatic turn-arounds, fairy tale endings and sheer dominance. On the men’s side, Stanford fulfilled the dream of a dying coach and, to use late Stanford assistant coach Al Roderigues’ words, went from “worst to first” in four short years. John Kosty and Kawika Shoji claimed the Asics/VBM Coach and Player of the Year honors respectively. Their journey and ultimate success is one that will be pointed out to teams going through rough patches for decades to come.
On a shorter note we look for the reemergence of the Northridge and USC programs to bear interesting fruit in 2011. On the women’s side Penn State, lead by coach Russ Rose and a bevy of truly awesome players including three Asics/VBM All Americans in Glass, Wilson and Hodge (who was also the Asics/VBM co-Player of the Year), completed the most successful four-year run a senior class has had in women’s sports history, by racking up a 142-5 record and claiming a third straight National Title. In Division II women’s play, Concordia University went on a tear of 74 straight wins that culminated in another 3-peat: the first in Division II history. The start of the current women’s season has proven to be full of upsets. Every team seems beatable with #1 Florida putting an incredibly well-coached and athletic team on the floor and a seasoned Hawai’i looming at #5.
Prep ball exploded in 2010. The Junior National Championships saw the biggest crowd in history attend the finals. Over 2,300 people came to watch the 18 Open and 18 Club divisions. 2010 also marked the inaugural year for the Youth Olympics. Over 3,600 athletes competed, 204 National Olympic committees and 370,000 spectators participated in the Singapore-based event. The girl’s title went to Belgium while Cuba dominated the boy’s side.
As we look ahead to 2011, we anticipate another year of dramatic on-court confrontations and increased parity and competition at all levels, as players continue to just get bigger, faster and dare we say...better. We are excited to have a 2011 editorial calendar already full of insightful stories from the country’s top coaches, players and trainers, increased international and world league coverage, coverage of the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, prep drills and best practices, and all the other things that have made Volleyball magazine the #1 magazine in the sport for the last 30 years.
Originally published in January 2011