The AVP returns to Atlanta on Friday and already has made an impact on the sports scene.

Sarah Sponcil threw out the first pitch Wednesday before the Braves lost to the Phillies. 

It was nearly a strike for the athletic Sponcil, the Olympian teamed with Terese Cannon as the No. 1 seed for the AVP Gold Series Atlanta Open at Atlantic Station.

Sarah Sponcil throwing the first pitch at the Atlanta Braves game on Wednesday

The top-seeded men’s pair are Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk.

This will the 10th time the AVP is competed in Atlanta, seventh for the women.

After the limited 2020 pandemic season, the first 2021 AVP event was in Atlanta and Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss, just a few months removed from their LSU season, won the women’s title. The men’s crown went to Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson.

“We’re excited to be returning to Atlanta after such a thrilling experience last year,” AVP CEO Al Lau said. “Beach volleyball was first introduced to the Olympics during the 1996 Games in Atlanta, so there’s a wealth of history and excitement surrounding this sport in this city.” 

As always as is the case on the AVP, partners vary. For example Andy Benesh has won twice this season, in Austin with Phil Dalhausser and in Denver with Miles Evans, but in Atlanta he is playing with Nick Lucena.

The men’s field includes last week’s winners in Fort Lauderdale, Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb; the reuniting of the New Orleans winners, Phil Dalhausser and Casey Patterson; Hermosa Beach winners Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk; and Atlantic City winners Cody Caldwell and David Lee. Dalhausser also won the season opener in Austin with Andy Benesh and Benesh won in Denver with Miles Evans.

The men’s lineup for Friday’s first round:
No. 1 Theo Brunner-Chaim Schalk vs. No. 16 Jacob Landell-Lev Priima
No. 2 Tri Bourne-Trevor Crabb vs. No. 15 Cody Caldwell-David Lee
No. 3 Phil Dalhausser-Casey Patterson vs. No. 14 Tim Bomgren-Piotr Marciniak
No. 4 Taylor Crabb-Taylor Sander vs. No. 13 Tim Brewster-Kyle Friend
No. 5 Chase Budinger-Troy Field vs. No. 12 Skylar del Sol-Andrew Dentler
No. 6 Paul Lotman-Miles Partain vs. No. 11 Avery Drost-Cory Evans
No. 7 Andy Benesh-Nick Lucena vs. No. 10 John Hyden-Logan Webber
No. 8 Billy Allen-Jeremy Casebeer vs. No. 9 Evan Cory-Bill Kolinske
Brewster-Friend, Bomgren-Marciniak, Caldwell-Lee, and Landel-Priima won their spots through success in Atlantic City July 23-24.

2022 women’s winners in the field include Kloth and Nuss, who won the season opener in Austin; Kelly Cheng and Betsi Flint, who won in New Orleans; Larissa and Lili Maestrini, who have three titles this season, Muskegon, Denver and Atlantic City; and Sponcil and Cannon, who won in Hermosa Beach. 

Julia Scoles passes at AVP Fort Lauderdale/Rick Atwood photo

The women’s lineup:
No. 1 Sarah Sponcil-Terese Cannon vs. No. 16 Molly Turner-Torrey Van Winden
No. 2 Sara Hughes-Kelley Kolinske vs. No. 15 Megan Gebhard-Kahlee York
No. 3 Kelly Cheng-Betsi Flint vs. No. 14 Deahna Kraft-Allie Wheeler
No. 4 Taryn Kloth-Kristen Nuss vs. No. 13 Katie Dickens-Jennifer Keddy
No. 5 Larissa-Lili Maestrini vs. No. 12 Aurora Davis-Teegan Van Gunst
No. 6 Zana Muno-Brandi Wilkerson vs. No. 11 Megan Kraft-Emily Stockman
No. 7 Julia Scoles-Geena Urango vs. No. 10 Corinne Quiggle-Sarah Schermerhorn
No. 8 Lauren Fendrick-Hailey Harward vs. Emily Day-Savvy Simo
The Atlantic City qualifiers were Dickens-Keddy, Deahna Kraft-Wheeler, Gebhard-York and Van Winden-Turner.

The purse in Atlanta, the ninth AVP stop in 2022, is $300,000, largest of the season. 

TOURNAMENT ADDED: The new AVP Pro Series Central Florida Open will be held December 2-4 at Hickory Point Beach on Lake Harris, replacing a Pro Series event that had been scheduled for mid-September in Atlantic City. That’s also the first weekend of the NCAA women’s tournament.

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Miles Partain pokes away from the block of Chase Budinger at AVP Fort Lauderdale/Rick Atwood photo


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