KENNER, Louisiana — Really, if you haven’t watched the video above, please, go back and give it a look.
It was taken by Carolyn Kraft, a law student at Vanderbilt University who is here with her sister, Deahna Kraft, who played in AVP New Orleans with Kaitlyn Malaney. There were a handful of videos of that Wilson ball flying away Saturday, but it was Kraft’s that got the explosion at the end, when the ill-fated blow-up sphere met its demise with a power line.
More on that later, but first a look at Sunday’s schedule after a Saturday delayed five hours by the wicked storm that blew through this area with a vengeance. Some reports had it blasting 60 mph winds and it wasn’t a storm that just passed through. It stayed for quite a few minutes, and when it left, Coconut Beach was beat up. The area near stadium court looked like this:
Play, started at noon, was halted just before 1 p.m. and didn’t resume until 6 p.m. Curiously, with a well-documented weather forecast predicting bad storms in the afternoon, the AVP chose not to adjust its schedule and use the morning.
When play re-started, the AVP had no streaming capabilities and chose not to use the stadium court although the venue was more or less back to normal by late afternoon.
So when the last ball hit the wet, hard-packed sand at about 11:15 p.m. — a well-fought, three-victory by Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes over Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss — the AVP prepared for playing again less than nine hours later.
And here’s that schedule, starting with the elimination brackets:
At 8 a.m., Brian Miller and DJ Klasnic play Evan Cory and Logan Webber, while Travis Mewhirter and Avery Drost take on Cody Caldwell and Chase Frishman. Tim Brewster and Kyle Friend and Paul Lotman and Silila Tucker await the winners.
At 9 a.m. Olympian Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon play Julia Scoles and Betsi Flint and Toni Rodriguez and Savvy Simo play Teegan Van Gunst and Kim Hildreth. Olympian Sarah Pavan and Emily Stockman and Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss await.
Olympians Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk and Billy Allen and Troy Field advanced into Sunday semifinals on the men’s side.
Three of the four players in the women’s semifinals are Olympians. Cheng (playing with Hughes) and the Canadians, Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes.
Of note on the men’s side:
— Cory, who is from the next town over, Metairie, is playing on Sunday in an AVP for the first time.
— Mewhirter, the VolleyballMag.com beach editor, has played on Sunday before, but this one is special, because he’s got a unique yard pass from his wife, Delaney, also a pro beach player. She’s pregnant, and not just sort of pregnant. She’s due with their first child any day now. Mewhirter and Drost are playing together for the first time and practiced just three times together.
— Bourne and Schalk have not lost a set. Allen and Field got past Friend and Brewster 21-23, 21-19, 15-13.
Of note on the women’s side:
— Could we have been watching the two USA teams that will play in Paris 2024 when Cheng-Hughes beat Kloth-Nuss 10-21, 31-29, 15-12? And will they play again Sunday for the title?
— Rodriguez and Simo beat Katie (Lindelow) Dickens (who was an indoors teammate of Rodriguez’s at LSU) and Jen Keddy 17-21, 21-18, 19-17 after trailing 10-5 in the third.
— Wilkerson and Humana-Paredes haven’t lost a set.
Click here for the AVP brackets that include the results and schedules.
And, as promised, back to the Wilson ball, some of which is now a poncho.
Robert Montgomery, a beach fan from Baton Rouge, drove his RV here and is staying in the Coconut Beach parking lot. He and friends hunkered down when the storm hit. But, like so many, they watched the Wilson blow-up ball get blown away.
“Once we saw it take off, and we were sitting around here having a couple of cocktails, we wondered what was going to happen to it,” Montgomery said with a laugh. “So I got the bright idea to take my truck and let’s go grab it.
“We got there and the city of Kenner already had somebody on site and they were waiting on a bucket truck to get it out of the tree. They said they would cut it down and we could take it away. And isn’t a poncho very appropriate?”
No doubt. He had AVP pros, like Geena Urango below, signing it.
“It is very well made,” Montgomery said of his poncho. “That volleyball was very well crafted.”