WAIKIKI, Hawai’i — No surprises for the last AVP tournament of the season.
Those seem to have been worked out by now. No qualifier teams producing main draw anarchy Friday at the AVP Hawai’i Open, as they did in Austin. No immediate signs of a Cinderella, of which there were so many in Hermosa Beach. No upstart partnerships running roughshod through the winner’s bracket, as Reid Priddy and Trevor Crabb did in Manhattan.
No, on a sleepy island Friday in Waikiki Beach, there were exactly no surprises. The top four seeds on both sides went 8-0. None of the men’s top four even dropped a set.
The only top team to drop one on the women’s side was April Ross and Alix Klineman, who had another excellent match with Terese Cannon and Kelly Reeves, winning 19-21, 21-14, 15-11, a fun replay from their three-setter in Manhattan Beach.
“I think we just came out a little bit slow, not super sharp,” Ross said. “(Coach Jen Kessy) even warned us, ‘This team is going to come out firing, they’re playing super well.’ We figured out we have to turn it up in the second set. I think it was more a mentality shift.”
Aside from that, however, it was all chalk on Friday, lest you count Kim Hildreth and Sarah Schermerhorn, the 10th seed, beating Sara Hughes and Allie Wheeler, the No. 7, in the first round. Even that could have been considered the favorite winning, seeing as Hildreth and Schermerhorn have been playing together for two full seasons while Hughes had to make a late pickup with Wheeler, with Summer Ross still injured and Brandie Wilkerson playing in an FIVB Olympic qualification event in China.
It’s a bit surprising, actually, that the top teams performed as flawlessly as they did. The past few weeks have tallied up not only the miles for those playing on the world tour, as all of the highest seeds do, but the equipment. On the Wednesday before AVP Chicago, USA Volleyball held a NORCECA qualifier for the continental championships, which is a three-star equivalent. So teams competed with a Molten ball. Then they flew to Chicago to compete in an AVP with a Wilson. Then they flew to Rome for the World Tour Finals to compete with a Mikasa. Then they flew from Rome to Hawai’i to compete with a Wilson — only this time, it was a new Wilson that few have had the opportunity to practice with.
“You take this one,” Ross said when asked about the travel and the time zones and the lack of practice and training. “Obviously my brain’s not working.”
And so Klineman took the mic.
“It’s been a super long season,” she said. “In some ways we both expected not to feel super sharp for this tournament. but it hasn’t been too bad so far. But it’s been a long season and I think we’re both excited to get a little downtime and recover and get a little healthier. But we’re approaching every match like any other tournament and we want to come out on top.”
One of the best ways to do so is to keep the road to the finals as short as possible.
And for the top teams on Friday, that was certainly accomplished. All the results from Friday and Saturday’s schedule, courtesy of BVBinfo.com, follow.