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Great shots! Our favorite photos from 2022

We entered 2022 without the best volleyball photographer there ever was. But even without Ed Chan, gone too soon, our cadre of shooters stepped up in a big way.

I can’t express enough how indebted to and appreciative of I am of these guys, including Mark Rigney, Rick Atwood, Jim Wolf, Michael Gomez, Stephen Burns, Andy J. Gordon, Matt Smith and Tim Britt.

Trust me, they are not overpaid for what they do (they’re now all laughing as they read this) but their passion and devotion is incredible. Our sport — and — is better because of them.

I went through every single photo we posted in 2022. We posted a lot of photos. A lot.

These are my favorite shots that our guys took this year. Some are from indoors, some from beach, and all captured the action in a way unique to a great group of shooters:

Texas wins the NCAA title

Matt Smith, who joined our team in 2021, was positioned perfectly when Texas beat Louisville two weeks ago to win the NCAA title. Logan Eggleston, right, is ready to join the fray. The pure joy on the faces of Emma Halter and libero Zoe Fleck on the left will make any volleyball fan smile. Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres has her back to us and Asjia O’Neal has fallen to her knees. And in the background the coaches embrace. Simply a great shot.

“I always say all sports shots have an element of luck to them,” Matt said. “You can do everything right just to have a back turned or someone block your shot. I waited on the sideline, shooting over other’s heads, with my Nikon d5 and the workhorse 70-200, praying to get one useable celebration/court-rush frame. This was that one.”

Logan Eggleston, right, leads the Texas championship celebration/Matt Smith photo

The eyes have it

Look closely at how focused Trevor Crabb was in Fort Lauderdale for the task at hand. And in the other shots in this grouping, don’t say the players don’t keep their eyes on the ball:

Trevor Crabb-Theo Brunner
Trevor Crabb is focused on the shot against Theo Brunner/Tim Britt photo
Palm Beach Atlantic’s Karla Cantero with the diving one-handed defensive play/Michael Gomez photo
Sarah Sponcil is dialed in/Rick Atwood photo
LSU’s Kelli Greene-Agnew reaches for the dig against UCLA on Manhattan Beach/Mark Rigney photo
Sara Hughes
Sara Hughes en route to winning the MBO/Rick Atwood photo

Going all out and then some

Most of these are on the beach, but not all. The effort by the players is incredible:

Grand Canyon’s Anaya Evans goes all out against Georgia State in the NCAA Beach Championship in Gulf Shores in May/Stephen Burns photo
Hagen Smith goes all out/Rick Atwood photo
Ana Costa lays out for a dig during the Manhattan Beach qualifier Thursday/Mark Rigney photo


Keoni Thiim of Hawai’i dives in an attempt to keep the point alive during the NCAA men’s semifinals/Jim Wolf photo
Tim Bomgren goes all out on Hermosa Beach/Rick Atwood photo
Colorado Mesa’s Hahni Johnson during action in March at Arizona/Stephen Burns photo
Oklahoma’s Chloe Kaminski goes airborne against Baylor/Matt Smith photo
Tri Bourne goes all out in Phoenix/Rick Atwood photo
Tim Bomgren lays out in Austin/Rick Atwood photo
Kristen Nuss-AVP Chicago
Kristen Nuss takes to the air in Chicago/Mark Rigney photo

Celebrate good times, come on!

Celebration photos can be cliche, but not when you get them at the right moment from the right angle. Michael Gomez did exactly that when Pittsburgh stunned Wisconsin on its home floor to clinch a spot in the NCAA semifinals. And we had plenty of other outstanding happy shots:

Pitt celebrates beating Wisconsin/Michael Gomez photo, Instagram @shotbygomez
Pepperdine celebrates winning the MPSF championship/Andy J. Gordon photo
The celebration was on for Hawai’i when it won the NCAA men’s title/Jim Wolf photo
Tri Bourne-Trevor Crabb-AVP Awards
Trevor Crabb, left, and Tri Bourne celebrate winning AVP Chicago/Stephen Burns photo

Potpourri of fun photos

They don’t all have a category, but you know a cool shot when you see one. And we had some cool shots:

Larissa Maestrini-AVP Chicago
Larissa defended in Chicago with an elbow save/Mark Rigney photo
Hagen Smith flies over teammate Jake Dietrich to make the MBO save/Jim Wolf photo
Andy Benesh-Miles Evans-AVP Chicago
Andy Benesh reaches for the ball over Miles Evans in Chicago/Rick Atwood photo
Pepperdine’s Madison Shields gets set by Melanie Paul/Jim Wolf photo, Instagram @jimwolf9426
Chase Frishman, ouch/Rick Atwood photo
TCU’s Sutton Mactavish jousts with UCLA’s Rileigh Powers/Mark Rigney photo
Tim Brewster combines long jumping and high jumping to hit past the block in Huntington Beach/Jim Wolf photo
Kick save and a beauty by Paul Lotman at AVP Austin/Rick Atwood photo
Madison Riccio goes for the save in Seaside/Stephen Burns photo

How about some more NCAA men?

When the UCLA men play in the John Wooden Center, it’s a tough place for photographers. Andy Gordon got the cool shot nonetheless:

Jason Gibbs of Lewis cuts the shot past UCLA’s Ido David/Andy J. Gordon photo
Alex Nikolov of Long Beach State attacks against Lewis/Michael Gomez photo, Instagram @shotbygomez
UCLA’s Merrick McHenry hits against the USC block of Lucas Frassrand/Andy J. Gordon photo
Long Beach’s Alex Nikolov makes quick transition from hitting to setting, isolating two UCLA blockers/Jim Wolf photo

Because it’s Casey Patterson

The veteran is a fan favorite and even at 42 is still a heck of a player:

Casey Patterson-AVP Chicago
Casey Patterson passes during AVP Chicago with Michael Gomez taking his own shot from a different angle/Stephen Burns photo

Nebraska at Wisconsin, poetry in motion.

At first glance, it’s just a player, Wisconsin’s Devyn Robinson, on the attack this past October 26 when the Badgers played host to Nebraska. But this shot by Michael Gomez so much more. Izzy Ashburn is coming down from her set. Everyone else is moving, including — and you have to look to the left to notice — Sarah Franklin ready to attack out of the back row if the opportunity presented itself. It’s just volleyball at its best and a fantastic shot by Michael Gomez. And it’s my favorite photo of 2022.

“Every once in a while, I am able to capture the beauty of this amazing game,” Mike told us. “This shot captures the offense ‘in system’ and demonstrates the complexity of an offense and poetry in motion.”

Mike took the photo with his Sony a9 and the Sony 24mm 1.4 G Master. ISO 3200 | F1.4 | 1/1600ss).

Wisconsin’s Devyn Robinson attacks Izzy Ashburn’s set against Nebraska/Michael Gomez photo, Instagram @shotbygomez

It was really fun to go through all our photos and put this piece together. Mostly I cover indoor volleyball, but went to three beach tournaments this year, the NCAA Championship in Gulf Shores, AVP New Orleans, and AVP Chicago. And here’s proof that I was working in New Orleans (thanks, Rick): editor Lee Feinswog interviews Phil Dalhausser/Rick Atwood photo