Pro beach volleyball returns this week with the start of the three-week AVP Champions Cup Series in Long Beach (July 17-19, July 24-26, July 31-August 2). This is part of a series profiling new teams for 2020.

Amanda Dowdy and Zana Muno are seeded second in the qualifier, eighth overall. Dowdy is a 6-foot-2 blocker who lives in Salado, Texas, while Muno is a 5-10 defender splitting her time between El Segundo and Santa Ynez, Calif.

Dowdy competed with Corinne Quiggle in 2019, pulling down fifth-place finishes in AVP events in Seattle and Waikiki. Muno competed in five events with Crissy Jones, breaking through for a third in Hermosa Beach.

Both were in search of new partners for 2020, trying out several prospects before landing on each other.

For Muno, it was their approach to the game that sealed the deal for her.

“We get along really well off the court, and we mesh well,” Muno said. “Our personalities, and mentality, and how we approach the game really blended well together so that we decided to partner together.

Both are hard workers that hold themselves individually accountable.

“We’re both really hard on ourselves, and we both have that mutual understanding that we’re always going to try our best, and that we don’t have to hold each other accountable, we both knew that each other would take care of their responsibilities.”

But for Muno, it’s more than just volleyball.

“We also value life outside of volleyball. We both believe that if you’re happy as a human being, you’re going to perform better as an athlete, so we can support each other well on the court.”

Muno had a scare in March when she contracted the coronavirus. Muno believes she was exposed to the virus while attending a fundraiser in Manhattan Beach.

At first, Muno thought it was just the flu and at that time testing was very expensive and difficult to obtain. Muno said it was like having a mild case of the flu.

“It was really long. For 12 days I was just so tired, I just didn’t even want to get out of bed. Everything was just so exhausting. And then my mom got it the next week, and then my dad and my brother.

“My dad and my brother both lost their sense of smell and taste, and they still haven’t gotten it back almost three months later. It was definitely a lot harder on my parents than it was on my brother and I.”

Accordingly, for Muno, the coronavirus scare is that much more real.

“I definitely have more respect for it, it’s definitely a real thing. If you’re in the at-risk category, it can knock you out really quickly. It’s scary, but it can be controlled if people are smart and considerate of other people.”

Since recovering (and building a 12-foot by 8-foot chicken coop in Santa Ynez), Muno and Dowdy have been able to clock in some good training hours, especially considering the Texas to California distances. Muno went to Texas for three weeks when the California beaches were closed, and Dowdy has been coming out to California Monday through Friday.

“Amanda brings a lot of experience and knowledge of the game to our team,” Muno said. “I’m super lucky to play with a veteran with so much experience under her belt.”

Read our other new AVP Champions Cup Partnerships features:

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