Wisconsin Winners

The AVP returns to Milwaukee after a 16-year absence

Ed Chan
April Ross makes a diving save.

Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal sent John Hyden and Tri Bourne to the contenders’ bracket in the third round of the AVP Milwaukee Open, so when the two teams met again in the men’s final, Hyden and Bourne were out to redeem themselves. They didn’t waste any time in doing so, winning the match in straight sets 21-15, 21-18.

Bourne, only 25 years old, is a master of the on-two swing and has perfect setting hands. Hyden, at 41, still thumps balls and hits all the shots he had when he and former partner Sean Scott dominated the domestic scene. In the first game of the final, Hyden had the honor of hitting the winning shot, a soft-touch cutty around the gigantic Dalhausser block while Rosenthal camped out futilely down the line.

Game two played out similarly, with Hyden and Bourne playing clean and siding out well. However, it took them three championship points to end it. They finally nabbed the win on the third at the end of a long rally that included Dalhausser blocking Bourne, Hyden covering, Rosenthal making a pokey dig, and Bourne ending it with a kill on two off a Hyden bump set.

Tri Bourne earned his first AVP win ever and adds it to the grand-slam title he and Hyden collected in Berlin two weeks earlier. For Hyden, a member of the 1996 indoor Olympic team, the 2014 AVP Milwaukee title is his 23rd domestic win over a 15-year career on the beach.

The women’s final contenders surprised no one. No. 1 seeds April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings faced No. 2 seeds Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat in a repeat of the St. Petersburg final.

Walsh Jennings and Ross hadn’t lost a set all tournament, flowing easily through the winners’ bracket with only Whitney Pavlik and Jennifer Fopma getting past 15 points. But in the final, Fendrick and Sweat came out strong, controlling most of the offense in the game. Even with the 5’8” Sweat getting most of the serves, the duo sided out admirably against the No. 1 team in the world, and Sweat proved you can’t just serve the short girl, not block, and expect to win the point. Sweat and Fendrick used this momentum and smooth play to take the first set 21-15.

When Walsh Jennings and Ross came out for set two, however, they returned to the dominant play that had won them three international golds and the AVP St. Petersburg title already this season, making scrappy defensive plays and finishing them for a point. The next two sets went in the top-seeded duo’s favor, 21-16, 15-13. The victory allowed them to hold their position as the only American women’s partnership in 2014 to win a tournament on either the AVP or FIVB tour.

The win tied Walsh Jennings with her former partner Misty May-Treanor for the most domestic victories by a woman at 69.

Other notable happenings in Milwaukee included a nice finish by local competitor Billy Kolinske who partnered with indoor Olympian Dave McKienzie to finish ninth. The tournament also featured the return to competition for Nicole Branagh and Ryan Mariano who had both not played professionally for more than a year. Branagh finished fifth with partner Amanda Dowdy and Mariano came in ninth with Ed Ratledge.

The event, which marked the return of the AVP to Bradford Beach after 16 years away, seems to have been a success on the business side as well. It drew huge crowds for all three days of the main draw over the July 4th weekend.

“It was probably the best one we’ve done,” AVP owner Donald Sun said in an interview with the Milwaukee Business Journal. Admission was free and Sun estimates 20,000 spectators flowed through over the weekend.

The AVP returns Aug. 7-10 in Salt Lake City, followed quickly by the Manhattan Beach Open the next weekend.

Originally published in October 2014

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