AVP Chicago: Top seeds hold form, Wilkerson enjoying success with Branagh

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Brandie Wilkerson, Team Canada, Volleyball, Volleyball Photos, Outdoor Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Sand Volleyball, Pro Beach Volleyball, AVP, Association of Volleyball Professionals, Chicago, Oak Street Beach, Gold Series, North Avenue Beach
Brandie Wilkerson, shown here blocking Delaney Knudsen, is an impressive blocker despite being only 5-foot-10/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

CHICAGO — The tournament went nearly entirely according to seed Friday in the AVP Championships Oak Street Beach on Lake Michigan.

Seven of the top eight women’s seeds advanced to the third round. The only exception was No. 9 Caitlin Ledoux’s and Carolina Salgado’s minor upset of No. 8 Nicole Branagh and Brandie Wilkerson 21-16, 21-15. However, Branagh and Wilkerson are still alive in the contenders bracket.

The lone upset among the men was No. 18 Jeff Samuels and Raffe Paulis defeating No. 16 Mark Burik and Adam Roberts 21-14, 21-19 in the contenders bracket.

However, the first-round winners and losers brackets featured several notable upsets. Shockingly, Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman finished 17th with losses to Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes (15-21, 25-23, 15-13) and Amanda Dowdy and Irene Pollock 21-17, 21-16 for their worst as a team.

No. 22 Aurora Davis and Bre Scarbrough scored two upsets, starting with No. 11 Dowdy and Pollock (21-16, 21-17), then No. 6 Lane Carico and Alix Klineman, the AVP San Francisco finalists (21-19, 24-22).

The four winners-bracket matches will be held in the 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Central staggered time slots, with losers-bracket play in the 11 a.m. to noon staggered time slots. The men’s begins with Ryan Doherty and John Hyden against Trevor Crabb and Sean Rosenthal at 9 on court 1, while the women’s begins at 9:10 with Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat against Davis and Scarbrough. They all will be competing for a purse worth $112,500 on each side.

Branagh and Wilkerson will begin their campaign through the contenders bracket at 11:25 a.m. against Lara Dykstra and Jace Pardon on stadium court. In Manhattan Beach, Branagh and Wilkerson lost their second-round match, but climbed all the way back to the final in Wilkerson’s third event on the AVP tour.

Brandie Wilkerson, Team Canada, Volleyball, Volleyball Photos, Outdoor Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Sand Volleyball, Pro Beach Volleyball, AVP, Association of Volleyball Professionals, Chicago, Oak Street Beach, Gold Series, North Avenue Beach
Brandie Wilkerson hustles to keep the ball alive for partner Nicole Branagh during AVP Chicago on Friday/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Wilkerson actually sees the early Manhattan loss as a blessing, since the pair had only practiced together four times prior to competition together.

“We had to play so many games to get to the finals, we got a chance to get to know each other more, and when we’re on the same page, obviously, we’re rolling,” Wilkerson said.

The pair came close to getting their names on the pier, losing in the championship mach to Brittany Hochevar and Emily Day 21-18, 21-18.

“It was an amazing experience,” Wilkerson said. “I think it was a true testament of just taking every game one at a time, and seeing where it went.”

Wilkerson, who holds dual Canadian and American citizenships, was born in Switzerland to an American father and Swiss mother. Her family immigrated to Canada when she was very young, and she currently calls Toronto home, although she is looking to move to Los Angeles permanently this year.

Wilkerson competes for Canada on the FIVB tour with Heather Bansley and coach Evie Matthews, who also live and train in Los Angeles. They finished fifth in the FIVB World Championships in Vienna.

At 5-foot-10, Wilkerson is one of the shorter blockers on the world tour, but she is able to compete with impressive athleticism. She credits her parents for her gifts. Her father, Herb Johnson Wilkerson, was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers after a standout career at the University of Tulsa and went on to play professionally in Switzerland. Her mother Stephanie was an Ironman finalist twice as well as being an endurance runner representing Switzerland.

“My family is very athletic and very talented and I’m blessed to be born with those genes,” Wilkerson said. “But behind that is a lot of hard work making up for the inches of height that I don’t have at the end of the day. I can jump all I want, but if I can’t pass or set, it doesn’t matter, right?

“I got the springs from my Dad, and the muscles from my Mum.”

Wilkerson believes that her partnerships with Bansley and Branagh still have untapped potential.

“As a competitive athlete, you never want to feel like you’re satisfied, you always want more,” she said. “It feels like the season went so fast, with relatively few tournaments on tour, we feel like there’s a lot more damage we can do on the tour, here and on the FIVB.”

Wilkerson enjoys both the AVP and FIVB tours.

“I feel lucky to be a part of all those tours. Of course the FIVB is more a part of representing your country, your nation. I take a lot of pride in that, but I have as much pride in being half American. This tour is a lot more local and the fans are a lot closer to the players. You see a lot of the same people at every stop, it’s part of the community.

“You don’t see that on the FIVB, but the grandeur makes up for it, so it’s fun as well.”

However, it’s not easy trying to train with two different partners who have different styles. Branagh, of course, played FIVB with Kerri Walsh Jennings, but when Walsh Jennings injured her shoulder and was lost for the season, she needed a new partner to compete on the AVP.

“I’m lucky to have a partner (Bansley) that’s very understanding,” Wilkerson said. “She respects Nicole as as player, she knows that this is something that’s well worth it and she has the confidence in me to take this tour and learn from it and become a better player. So she is extremely flexible about that. And the same with Nicole. She knows that I play for Canada first and knows that my schedule centers around that and we work it out.

“We see each other on tour, so we know how it goes, and if we can both play here on the AVP, we’re excited.”

Raffe Paulis-Volleyball, Volleyball Photos, Outdoor Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Sand Volleyball, Pro Beach Volleyball, AVP, Association of Volleyball Professionals, Chicago, Oak Street Beach, Gold Series, North Avenue Beach
Raffe Paulisgets a dig at AVP Chicago on Friday/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Friday’s men’s winners bracket
Round 1
Match 1: Mark Burik/Adam Roberts (16) def. Branden Clemens/Ben Vaught (17, Q1) 21-14, 21-16 (0:42)
Match 2: Ed Ratledge/Eric Zaun (9) def. Patrick Bolton/Luis Del Valle (24, Q26) 21-13, 21-14 (0:31)
Match 3: Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin (12) def. Brian Cook/Tim May (21, Q5) 21-17, 21-18 (0:44)
Match 4: Marty Lorenz/Chaim Schalk (13) def. Kyle Friend/Myles Muagututia (20, Q4) 24-22, 21-10 (0:38)
Match 5: Brian Bomgren/Tim Bomgren (14) def. Dave McKienzie/Ian Satterfield (19, Q3) 21-9, 19-21, 15-13 (1:04)
Match 6: Michael Brunsting/Ty Loomis (11) def. Paul Lotman/Gabriel Ospina (22, Q6) 21-14, 21-19 (0:45)
Match 7: Avery Drost/Chase Frishman (10) def. Kacey Losik/Garrett Wilson (23, Q25) 21-16, 21-12 (0:38)
Match 8: Piotr Marciniak/Roberto Rodriguez (15) def. Raffe Paulis/Jeff Samuels (18, Q2) 21-17, 21-13 (0:41)
Round 2
Match 9: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) def. Mark Burik/Adam Roberts (16) 21-13, 21-7 (0:32)
Match 10: Jeremy Casebeer/John Mayer (8) def. Ed Ratledge/Eric Zaun (9) 22-24, 21-16, 17-15 (1:13)
Match 11: Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson (5) def. Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin (12) 21-8, 21-14 (0:37)
Match 12: Billy Allen/Stafford Slick (4) def. Marty Lorenz/Chaim Schalk (13) 21-18, 21-16 (0:48)
Match 13: Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb (3) def. Brian Bomgren/Tim Bomgren (14) 21-17, 21-19 (0:47)
Match 14: Reid Priddy/Ricardo Santos (6) def. Michael Brunsting/Ty Loomis (11) 21-14, 23-21 (0:52)
Match 15: Ryan Doherty/John Hyden (7) def. Avery Drost/Chase Frishman (10) 25-23, 21-12 (0:49)
Match 16: Trevor Crabb/Sean Rosenthal (2) def. Piotr Marciniak/Roberto Rodriguez (15) 21-18, 22-20 (0:53)
Saturday’s round 3
Match 17: Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) vs. Jeremy Casebeer/John Mayer (8)
Match 18: Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson (5) vs. Billy Allen/Stafford Slick (4)
Match 19: Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb (3) vs. Reid Priddy/Ricardo Santos (6)
Match 20: Ryan Doherty/John Hyden (7) vs. Trevor Crabb/Sean Rosenthal (2)
Contenders bracket
Round 1
Match 23: Piotr Marciniak/Roberto Rodriguez (15) def. Branden Clemens/Ben Vaught (17, Q1) 18-21, 21-13, 15-9 (0:48)
Match 24: Avery Drost/Chase Frishman (10) def. Patrick Bolton/Luis Del Valle (24, Q26) 21-14, 21-16 (0:39)
Match 25: Michael Brunsting/Ty Loomis (11) def. Brian Cook/Tim May (21, Q5) 21-19, 21-15 (0:42)
Match 26: Brian Bomgren/Tim Bomgren (14) def. Kyle Friend/Myles Muagututia (20, Q4) 21-15, 21-11 (0:34)
Match 27: Marty Lorenz/Chaim Schalk (13) def. Dave McKienzie/Ian Satterfield (19, Q3) 21-18, 21-15 (0:37)
Match 28: Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin (12) def. Paul Lotman/Gabriel Ospina (22, Q6) 20-22, 21-18, 15-13 (0:58)
Match 29: Ed Ratledge/Eric Zaun (9) def. Kacey Losik/Garrett Wilson (23, Q25) 21-19, 21-16 (0:38)
Match 30: Raffe Paulis/Jeff Samuels (18, Q2) def. Mark Burik/Adam Roberts (16) 21-14, 21-19 (0:44)
Round 2
Match 31: Piotr Marciniak/Roberto Rodriguez (15) vs. Avery Drost/Chase Frishman (10)      Match 32: Michael Brunsting/Ty Loomis (11) vs. Brian Bomgren/Tim Bomgren (14)
Match 33: Marty Lorenz/Chaim Schalk (13) vs. Maddison McKibbin/Riley McKibbin (12)
Match 34: Ed Ratledge/Eric Zaun (9) vs. Raffe Paulis/Jeff Samuels (18, Q2)
Friday’s women’s winners bracket
Round 1
Match 1: Lara Dykstra/Jace Pardon (17, Q1) def. Janelle Allen/Briana Hinga (16) 19-21, 21-12, 15-7 (0:47)
Match 2: Caitlin Ledoux/Maria Clara Salgado (9) def. Mackenzie Phelps-Ponnet/Christina Vucich (24, Q8) 21-16, 18-21, 15-11 (0:50)
Match 3: Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (12) def. Bre Moreland/Allie Wheeler (21, Q5) 21-17, 21-13 (0:34)
Match 4: Kelly Reeves/Kimberly Smith (13) def. Brittany Howard/Nicolette Martin (20, Q4) 21-14, 17-21, 15-7 (0:50)
Match 5: Karolina Marciniak/Kendra VanZwieten (14) def. Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima/Brittany Tiegs (19, Q3) 21-17, 21-16 (0:39)
Match 6: Aurora Davis/Bree Scarbrough (22, Q6) def. Amanda Dowdy/Irene Pollock (11) 21-16, 21-17 (0:40)
Match 7: Jenny Kropp/Heather McGuire (10) def. Delaney Knudsen/Kerri Schuh (23, Q7) 21-15, 21-14 (0:47)
Match 8: Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler (18, Q2) def. Sheila Shaw/Xi Zhang (15) 21-13, 21-17 (0:31)
Round 2
Match 9: Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar (1) def. Lara Dykstra/Jace Pardon (17, Q1) 21-14, 21-11 (0:31)
Match 10: Caitlin Ledoux/Maria Clara Salgado (9) def. Nicole Branagh/Brandie Wilkerson (8) 21-16, 21-15 (0:43)
Match 11: Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (12) def. Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman (5) 15-21, 25-23, 15-13 (1:01)
Match 12: Betsi Flint/Kelley Larsen (4) def. Kelly Reeves/Kimberly Smith (13) 21-17, 21-13 (0:36)
Match 13: Summer Ross/Brooke Sweat (3) def. Karolina Marciniak/Kendra VanZwieten (14) 22-20, 21-11 (0:36)
Match 14: Aurora Davis/Bree Scarbrough (22, Q6) def. Lane Carico/Alix Klineman (6) 21-19, 24-22 (0:50)
Match 15: Angela Bensend/Geena Urango (7) def. Jenny KroppcHeather McGuire (10) 21-17, 21-16 (0:41)
Match 16: Lauren Fendrick/April Ross (2) def. Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler (18, Q2) 28-26, 21-12 (0:43)
Saturday’s Round 3
Match 17: Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar (1) vs. Caitlin Ledoux/Maria Clara Salgado (9)
Match 18: Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (12) vs. Betsi Flint/Kelley Larsen (4)
Match 19: Summer Ross/Brooke Sweat (3) vs. Aurora Davis/Bree Scarbrough (22, Q6)
Match 20: Angela Bensend/Geena Urango (7) vs. Lauren Fendrick/April Ross (2)
Contenders bracket
Round 1
Match 23: Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler (18, Q2) def. Janelle Allen/Briana Hinga (16) 21-18, 21-13 (0:37)
Match 24: Mackenzie Phelps-Ponnet/Christina Vucich (24, Q8) def. Jenny Kropp/Heather McGuire (10) 21-17, 21-17 (0:38)
Match 25: Lane Carico/Alix Klineman (6) def. Bre Moreland/Allie Wheeler (21, Q5) 21-14, 21-11 (0:36)
Match 26: Karolina Marciniak/Kendra VanZwieten (14) def. Brittany Howard/Nicolette Martin (20, Q4) 21-16, 21-15 (0:40)
Match 27: Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima/Brittany Tiegs (19, Q3) def. Kelly Reeves/Kimberly Smith (13) 21-15, 20-22, 15-8 (1:09)
Match 28: Amanda Dowdy/Irene Pollock (11) def. Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman (5) 21-17, 21-16 (0:43)
Match 29: Nicole Branagh/Brandie Wilkerson (8) def. Delaney Knudsen/Kerri Schuh (23, Q7) 21-14, 21-16 (0:40)
Match 30: Lara Dykstra/Jace Pardon (17, Q1) def. Sheila Shaw/Xi Zhang (15) 21-19, 21-18 (0:40)
Saturday’s Round 2
Match 31: Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler (18, Q2) vs. Mackenzie Phelps-Ponnet/Christina Vucich (24, Q8)
Match 32: Lane Carico/Alix Klineman (6) vs. Karolina Marciniak/Kendra VanZwieten (14)
Match 33: Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima/Brittany Tiegs (19, Q3) vs. Amanda Dowdy/Irene Pollock (11)
Match 34: Nicole Branagh/Brandie Wilkerson (8) vs. Lara Dykstra/Jace Pardon (17, Q1)  
Thanks to BVBinfo.com for the results    

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