AUSTIN, Texas — t’s hard to call Sarah Day qualifying for the main draw of the 2018 AVP Austin Open an underdog story, but you can certainly call it a comeback. Austin marked the first appearance since September 2016 for the 10-year AVP veteran and her first pro tournament since the birth of her second child, son Parker.

Seeded first in the women’s qualifier alongside former USC beach standout Nicolette Martin, Day defeated the local Austin team of Chrissy Glenn and former LSU standout Katie Lindelow in three sets to make it to Friday.

“My first comeback was with my daughter Piper. This is my son Parker here,” Day said, holding a crying and hungry Parker in her arms after her final match of the day. “This one has been really hard. I’m loving the journey, but two kids on the road with a little baby that still doesn’t sleep through the night, you’re kind of at a disadvantage.”

The 5-foot-10 Day typically plays defense and has partnered with elite blockers such as Christal Engle, Kim DiCello, and Sheila Shaw in the past, but with the scrappy 23-year-old 5-9 Martin, she plays the role of the big blocker.

Martin checks all of the other, more intangible, requirements Day has for a partner, however. They live close to each other, which helps Day stay close her kids while she’s still breastfeeding Parker. And of course, Martin brings championship experience gained at USC, a competitive fire and top-notch skills.

“I like the approach that I have with Nic as a leader,” Day added. “I feel like it’s a new role for me, but nothing too crazy considering I have to lead two children, so I feel like I’m just adding her into my little nest sometimes. She’s part of the family.”

Cole Fiers-AVP-Austin-qualifier-Austin qualifier
Cole Fiers extends for the ball in AVP Austin qualifier play

Brothers Riley and Maddison McKibbin, the No. 1 seed in the men’s qualifier, also earned a spot in the main draw, managing to do so without dropping a set — a significant feat when playing in 90-plus-degree Texas weather and having to turn around and face main draw opponents in a little over 12 hours.

Although none of their alumni advanced to the main draw, two schools from opposite sides of the country were well-represented in Thursday’s qualifier.

Eight Long Beach State alums competed in the men’s competition, and a handful more came along for the ride to offer their heckling services and moral support.

“Once you go to Long Beach, it’s like of like a brotherhood that you’re always together, no matter what age,” explained one particularly enthusiastic heckler and former 49er, who preferred to remain unnamed.

The Long Beach State contingent included long-time professional beach volleyball veteran Matt Prosser (LBSU Class of 2000), as well as 26-year-old Ian Satterfield, who made his first AVP main draw in last year’s Austin Open, and indoor Olympian Paul Lotman, who is in his second season playing beach volleyball full-time.

The pro beach 49ers also welcomed a new member to their crew with three-time Olympic middle blocker David Lee making his beach volleyball debut. A three-set loss to the local Austin pair of Troy Schlicker and Rafaa Quesada-Paneque cut Lee and partner Tal Shavit’s tournament short, but Lee stayed optimistic.

“This was kind of a test event for me, just to see how I would enjoy it and see how I would do,” Lee said. “Obviously it wasn’t the best debut, but I’ve only trained for two weeks and I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. It’s just a different game. It’s hard to make that transition quickly, especially [at] 36.”

Not many athletes stretch their indoor careers into their 40s, but that’s certainly an option on the beach, where Lee can look to the example of 45-year-old John Hyden, 43-year-old Ricardo Santos, 41-year-old Ed Ratledge and 40-year-old Reid Priddy, who are all in tomorrow’s main draw.

On the women’s side, LSU had a strong presence, even with LSU’s No. 1 from the 2018 season, reigning USA Volleyball Collegiate Pairs Champs Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss, electing to withdraw from the event earlier this week.

Maddie Ligon, a rising senior who helped lead the Tigers to their second-consecutive NCAA Beach appearance earlier this month, and her partner Kate Privett, a Southlake, Texas, native headed to Florida State in the fall, knocked off the No. 2-seeded Briana Hinga and Bre Moreland in the second round, but eventually lost to Falyn Fonoimoana and Alexa Strange, who advanced to the main draw.

Lindelow, who lost to Day and Martin in the final round, played in the first three seasons of LSU beach volleyball (2014-2016), and had a significant role in establishing the Tigers on the national stage. As she and partner Glenn pushed Day and Martin to a third set, Ligon sat on the sidelines cheering on her former teammate.

“Katie’s such a great player,” Ligon said. “She’s the same person every game, which is great because there are a lot of players that will come in and own one game and then the next it’s like completely different.”

But for the success of the Tiger program overall, Ligon credited head coach Russell Brock. “It’s really fun to see the program grow in the way that it has because Russell, Drew [Hamilton], and Trey [Cruz] have put a lot of effort into making us great.”

Also moving on to Friday’s main draw were No. 5 seed Janelle Allen and Kerri Schuh and No. 6 seed Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima and Jessica Sykora.

On the men’s side, No. 11 seed Troy Field and David Vander Meer, No. 12 seed Bruno Amorin and Chris Luers, and No. 10 seed Raffe Paulis and this publication’s very own Travis Mewhirter rounded out the men’s delegation advancing to the big show.

Friday’s brackets can be found here. The tournament will be streamed on Amazon Prime for the first time, and can be viewed by Prime members here.

Round 1
Lauren DeTurk/Kylin Loker (Q32) def. Alexia Inman/Milica Mirkovic (Q33) 21-13, 21-14 (0:37)
Kimberly Hildreth/Sarah Schermerhorn (Q17) def. Adrianna Nora/Lindsay Rosenthal (Q48) 25-23, 21-17 (0:44)
Brooke Kuhlman/Sara Putt (Q49) def. Cassie House/Molly Turner (Q16) 23-21, 21-18, 16-14 (0:58)
Heather Darr/Stephanie Minnerly-Barnhouse (Q41) def. Andrea Galinis/Kristine Monforte (Q24) by Forfeit
Sarah Harper/Carly Scarbrough (Q25) def. Julia Colina/Holly Reschke (Q40) 21-17, 21-17 (0:44)
Litara Keil/Cassandra Strickland (Q37) def. Paula Lacey/Lauren Loerch (Q28) 21-19, 21-12 (0:44)
Laurel Weaver/Meghan Wheeler (Q21) def. Meg Dawson/Miroslava Martinez (Q44) 21-14, 21-17 (0:39)
Carolyn Meister/Vendy Strakova (Q12) def. Heidi Hausheer/Belle Hegg (Q53) 21-14, 21-16 (0:40)
Chibuzo Aguocha/Bethanie Thomas (Q13) def. Jacqueline McCall/Lisa Messelt (Q52) 21-10, 21-15 (0:38)
Jessica Mendoza/Sara Rishell (Q20) def. Micaela Mirabal/Molly Smestad (Q45) 21-15, 18-21, 15-10 (0:52)
Jayna Duke/Taylor Nutterfield (Q36) def. Melissa Calata/Crystal Meadows (Q29) 21-14, 21-12 (0:35)
Vanessa Freire/Tory Paranagua (Q30) def. Carly Perales/Alexa Richardson (Q35) 21-10, 14-21, 15-6 (0:49)
Lauren Dickson/Claire Wolfe (Q19) def. Hunter Domanski/Maja Kaiser (Q46) 21-14, 21-12 (0:31)
Katie Horton/Hailey Luke (Q51) def. Christina Matthews/Megan Rice (Q14) 21-19, 21-8 (0:36)
Alexa Micek/Agnieszka Pregowska (Q22) def. Kyra Lancon/Lindsey Shepard (Q43) 21-15, 21-19 (0:36)
Jade Hayes/Maribeth Kern (Q27) def. Madeleine Dilfer/Simone Priebe (Q38) 21-18, 20-22, 15-10 (1:03)
Andrea Nucete-Elliott/Rebecca Perry (Q39) def. Cecilia Agraz/Lacey Fuller (Q26) 18-21, 21-14, 15-12 (1:04)
Caitlin Godwin/Caitlin Moon (Q23) def. Brittnay Estes/Tina Toghiyani (Q42) 21-16, 19-21, 15-10 (1:01)
Falyn Fonoimoana/Alexa Strange (Q15) def. Melissa Powell/Jessica Wooten (Q50) 21-17, 21-14 (0:36)
Heather Boyan/Kristen Petrasic (Q18) def. Diana Gordon/Katie Lindstrom (Q47) 23-25, 22-20, 15-8 (1:06)
Madison Ligon/Kate Privett (Q31) def. Emily Hartong/Kellie Osborne (Q34) 21-13, 21-16 (0:36)
Round 2
Sarah Day/Nicolette Martin (Q1) def. Lauren DeTurk/Kylin Loker (Q32) 21-15, 21-17 (0:43)
Kimberly Hildreth/Sarah Schermerhorn (Q17) def. Brooke Kuhlman/Sara Putt (Q49) 21-15, 22-20 (0:49)
Kaitlyn Leary/Erin O’Connor (Q9) def. Heather Darr/Stephanie Minnerly-Barnhouse (Q41) 21-13, 21-17 (0:35)
Christina Glenn/Katie Lindelow (Q8) def. Sarah Harper/Carly Scarbrough (Q25) 19-21, 21-17, 15-7 (1:00)
Janelle Allen/Kerri Schuh (Q5) def. Litara Keil/Cassandra Strickland (Q37) 21-14, 21-13 (0:40)
Carolyn Meister/Vendy Strakova (Q12) def. Laurel Weaver/Meghan Wheeler (Q21) 21-15, 14-21, 15-10 (0:46)
Chibuzo Aguocha/Bethanie Thomas (Q13) def. Jessica Mendoza/Sara Rishell (Q20) 21-15, 21-16 (0:44)
Corinne Quiggle/Allie Wheeler (Q4) def. Jayna Duke/Taylor Nutterfield (Q36) 21-15, 21-19 (0:49)
Mackenzie Ponnet/Kimberly Smith (Q3) def. Vanessa Freire/Tory Paranagua (Q30) 21-14, 21-10 (0:36)
Katie Horton/Hailey Luke (Q51) def. Lauren Dickson/Claire Wolfe (Q19) 21-18, 21-15 (0:38)
Camie Manwill/Summer Nash (Q11) def. Alexa Micek/Agnieszka Pregowska (Q22) 19-21, 23-21, 15-9 (1:06)
Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima/Jessica Sykora (Q6) def. Jade Hayes/Maribeth Kern (Q27) 21-7, 21-15 (0:33)
Avery Bush/Delaney Knudsen (Q7) def. Andrea Nucete-Elliott/Rebecca Perry (Q39) 21-7, 21-16 (0:34)
Meghan Mannari/Taylor Nyquist (Q10) def. Caitlin Godwin/Caitlin Moon (Q23) 21-12, 21-16 (0:34)
Falyn Fonoimoana/Alexa Strange (Q15) def. Heather Boyan/Kristen Petrasic (Q18) 21-16, 19-21, 16-14 (1:00)
Madison Ligon/Kate Privett (Q31) def. Briana Hinga/Bre Moreland (Q2) 21-12, 19-21, 15-11 (1:05)
Round 3
Sarah Day/Nicolette Martin (Q1) def. Kimberly Hildreth/Sarah Schermerhorn (Q17) 28-30, 21-17, 15-13 (1:12)
Christina Glenn/Katie Lindelow (Q8) def. Kaitlyn Leary/Erin O’Connor (Q9) 21-14, 21-16 (0:41)
Janelle Allen/Kerri Schuh (Q5) def. Carolyn Meister/Vendy Strakova (Q12) 21-11, 20-22, 15-10 (0:53)
Corinne Quiggle/Allie Wheeler (Q4) def. Chibuzo Aguocha/Bethanie Thomas (Q13) 21-15, 21-14 (0:35)
Katie Horton/Hailey Luke (Q51) def. Mackenzie Ponnet/Kimberly Smith (Q3) 21-17, 21-16 (0:35)
Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima/Jessica Sykora (Q6) def. Camie Manwill/Summer Nash (Q11) 21-19, 22-20 (0:45)
Meghan Mannari/Taylor Nyquist (Q10) def. Avery Bush/Delaney Knudsen (Q7) 21-17, 11-21, 15-11 (0:52)
Falyn Fonoimoana/Alexa Strange (Q15) def. Madison Ligon/Kate Privett (Q31) 21-11, 21-13 (0:32)
Round 4
Sarah Day/Nicolette Martin (Q1) def. Christina Glenn/Katie Lindelow (Q8) 21-17, 20-22, 15-5 (1:03)
Janelle Allen/Kerri Schuh (Q5) def. Corinne Quiggle/Allie Wheeler (Q4) 21-18, 21-18 (0:46)
Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima/Jessica Sykora (Q6) def. Katie Horton/Hailey Luke (Q51) 21-23, 21-17, 15-13 (1:02)
Falyn Fonoimoana/Alexa Strange (16, Q15) def. Meghan Mannari/Taylor Nyquist (Q10) 21-23, 21-19, 15-12 (1:09)   
Round 1
Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin (Q1) def. Jay Johnson/Shane Sigg (Q64) 21-16, 21-17 (0:48)
Clint Coe/Tim May (Q32) def. Jordan Gladstone/George Gutierrez (Q33) 21-15, 21-17 (0:47)
Carl Naslund/John-Michael Plummer (Q48) def. Angel Dache/Jason Medero (Q17) 21-15, 18-21, 15-11 (1:03)
Francisco Quesada-Paneque/Troy Schlicker (Q16) def. David Lee/Tal Shavit (Q49) 23-25, 21-18, 15-9 (1:08)
Kacey Losik/Garrett Wilson (Q9) def. Seth Braquet/Evan Cory (Q56) 21-16, 21-18 (0:38)
Ozz Borges/Ryan Meehan (Q41) def. Andrew Ellis/Christian Honer (Q24) 21-18, 25-23 (1:08)
Hagen Smith/Lucas Yoder (Q25) def. Jared Carlson/Shawn Ledig (Q40) 21-10, 21-15 (0:31)
Andy Benesh/Cole Fiers (Q57) def. Brian Miller/Brett Ryan (Q8) 21-18, 12-21, 15-13 (1:01)
Adam Roberts/Spencer Sauter (Q5) def. David McBride/Ben Price (Q60) 21-12, 21-13 (0:41)
Steven Irvin/Nathan Yang (Q37) def. Tomas Salava/Kyle Stevenson (Q28) 23-21, 14-21, 15-12 (1:24)
Lennart Huijbers/David Updegrove (Q21) def. Chris Fleming/Kailum Rinaldi (Q44) 21-16, 21-15 (0:41)
Bruno Amorim/Chris Luers (Q12) def. Peter Connole/Adam Wienckowski (Q53) 19-21, 21-17, 15-13 (0:56)
Marc Fornaciari/Brian Tillman (Q13) def. Jack Lane/Jack Petersen (Q52) 21-16, 21-14 (0:41)
Ty Coutts/Robert deAurora (Q45) def. Marcas Black/Teddy Cook (Q20) 19-21, 21-10, 15-13 (1:05)
Justin Phipps/Christopher Vaughan (Q36) def. Kevin Knight/Gregory Vogel (Q29) 15-21, 21-13, 15-8 (1:03)
Branden Clemens/Ben Vaught (Q4) def. Garrett Bucklin/Frank Field (Q61) 21-16, 21-14 (0:41)
Mark Burik/Ian Satterfield (Q3) def. Roger Parent/Brian Wells (Q62) 16-21, 21-16, 16-14 (1:11)
Michael Boag/Skylar del Sol (Q35) def. Timothy Brewster/John Schwengel (Q30) 21-13, 21-8 (0:39)
Rob McLean/Jake Urrutia (Q46) def. Jonathan Guida/Kasey Hall (Q19) 21-18, 21-17 (0:45)
Taylor Hughes/Daniel Lindsey (Q14) def. Justin Beach/Derek Strause (Q51) 22-24, 21-12, 15-7 (1:02)
Troy Field/David Vander Meer (Q11) def. Mark Bermejo/Garret Denney (Q54) 21-11, 21-11 (0:35)
Philip Burrow/Lucas Ormos (Q22) def. Danko Iordanov/Tom Kohler (Q43) 21-12, 21-18 (0:45)
Bryan Dirks/Matt Helmick (Q27) def. Weston Hawkins/Steve Van Zwieten (Q38) 24-22, 21-17 (0:44)
Kyle Friend/Myles Muagututia (Q6) def. Bobby Jones/Jonathan Storm (Q59) 21-13, 21-7 (0:34)
Paul Lotman/Gabriel Ospina (Q7) def. Dillon Auxier/Bradley Connors (Q58) 21-19, 17-21, 15-10 (1:07)
Eric Beranek/Matt Prosser (Q39) def. Steven Roschitz/Silila Tucker (Q26) 21-16, 21-18 (0:49)
Jonathan Justice/Noel Khirsukhani (Q23) def. Carlos Gomariz/Jarrod Tongkeamha (Q42) 21-14, 19-21, 15-11 (0:56)
Travis Mewhirter/Raffe Paulis (Q10) def. Jerel Deacon/Zack Kweder (Q55) 21-19, 21-15 (0:50)
Jake Rosener/Travis Schoonover (Q15) def. Elias Aparcedo/Mika Hunkin (Q50) 21-6, 21-8 (0:29)
Andrew Dentler/Dylan Maarek (Q18) def. Roscoe Nelms/Ryan Walker (Q47) 21-14, 21-12 (0:33)
Juan Beltran/Tommy Wolfe (Q31) def. Eric Brelia/Andrew Royal (Q34) 21-14, 21-18 (0:42)
Michael Brunsting/Jeff Samuels (Q2) def. Charles Porter/Clark Porter (Q63) 21-17, 21-15 (0:45)
Round 2
Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin (Q1) def. Clint Coe/Tim May (Q32) 21-12, 21-10 (0:39)
Francisco Quesada-Paneque/Troy Schlicker (Q16) def. Carl Naslund/John-Michael Plummer (Q48) 18-21, 21-17, 15-12 (1:02)
Kacey Losik/Garrett Wilson (Q9) def. Ozz Borges/Ryan Meehan (Q41) 23-21, 21-17 (0:46)
Hagen Smith/Lucas Yoder (Q25) def. Andy Benesh/Cole Fiers (Q57) 21-16, 21-17 (0:44)
Steven Irvin/Nathan Yang (Q37) def. Adam Roberts/Spencer Sauter (Q5) 21-23, 23-21, 16-14 (1:42)
Bruno Amorim/Chris Luers (Q12) def. Lennart Huijbers/David Updegrove (Q21) 21-14, 21-13 (0:38)
Marc Fornaciari/Brian Tillman (Q13) def. Ty Coutts/Robert deAurora (Q45) 21-1, 21-1
Branden Clemens/Ben Vaught (Q4) def. Justin Phipps/Christopher Vaughan (Q36) 21-14, 21-17 (0:40)
Michael Boag/Skylar del Sol (Q35) def. Mark Burik/Ian Satterfield (Q3) 21-19, 17-21, 15-9 (0:55)
Taylor Hughes/Daniel Lindsey (Q14) def. Rob McLean/Jake Urrutia (Q46) 21-19, 21-17 (0:42)
Troy Field/David Vander Meer (Q11) def. Philip Burrow/Lucas Ormos (Q22) 21-15, 21-11 (0:42)
Kyle Friend/Myles Muagututia (Q6) def. Bryan Dirks/Matt Helmick (Q27) 21-14, 21-9 (0:38)
Eric Beranek/Matt Prosser (Q39) def. Paul Lotman/Gabriel Ospina (Q7) 21-18, 21-19 (0:50)
Travis Mewhirter/Raffe Paulis (Q10) def. Jonathan Justice/Noel Khirsukhani (Q23) 21-9, 21-17 (0:40)
Andrew Dentler/Dylan Maarek (Q18) def. Jake Rosener/Travis Schoonover (Q15) 21-14, 21-19 (0:45)
Michael Brunsting/Jeff Samuels (Q2) def. Juan Beltran/Tommy Wolfe (Q31) 21-18, 21-12 (0:41)
Round 3
Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin (Q1) def. Francisco Quesada-Paneque/Troy Schlicker (Q16) 21-12, 22-20 (0:45)
Hagen Smith/Lucas Yoder (Q25) def. Kacey Losik/Garrett Wilson (Q9) 21-17, 21-13 (0:37)
Bruno Amorim/Chris Luers (Q12) def. Steven Irvin/Nathan Yang (Q37) 21-15, 17-21, 15-12 (1:11)
Marc Fornaciari/Brian Tillman (Q13) def. Branden Clemens/Ben Vaught (Q4) 21-19, 12-21, 15-10 (0:56)
Taylor Hughes/Daniel Lindsey (Q14) def. Michael Boag/Skylar del Sol (Q35) 21-18, 17-21, 15-11 (1:00)
Troy Field/David Vander Meer (Q11) def. Kyle Friend/Myles Muagututia (Q6) 21-13, 21-19 (0:44)
Travis Mewhirter/Raffe Paulis (Q10) def. Eric Beranek/Matt Prosser (Q39) 21-19, 20-22, 16-14 (1:20)
Andrew Dentler/Dylan Maarek (Q18) def. Michael Brunsting/Jeff Samuels (Q2) 21-18, 21-16 (0:47)
Round 4
Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin (13, Q1) def. Hagen Smith/Lucas Yoder (Q25) 22-20, 21-14 (0:41)
Bruno Amorim/Chris Luers (Q12) def. Marc Fornaciari/Brian Tillman (Q13) 21-1, 21-1
Troy Field/David Vander Meer (Q11) def. Taylor Hughes/Daniel Lindsey (Q14) 21-19, 21-17 (0:40)
Travis Mewhirter/Raffe Paulis (Q10) def. Andrew Dentler/Dylan Maarek (Q18) 14-21, 21-15, 15-11 (0:57)   

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