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.

Like everyone with enough points on the AVP Tour to get into the upcoming Champions Cup, Ed Ratledge immediately came up with his list of potential partners with whom he could compete well enough to legitimately consider playing the three event series.

One of his qualifications was a simple question: “Which of those potentials have the temperament, that even when the whole rest of the world is locked down and not doing anything, they’re still going to be working hard out there?” Ratledge wondered.

One name immediately came to mind: Skylar del Sol.

He wasn’t wrong, either.

While all of Southern California was locked down in a strict quarantine, with all of the nets being taken down, del Sol, who lives in Parker, Colorado, continued his training with nary a hitch.

“I think I had the most benefit out of this Covid stuff,” said del Sol, who was named the NVL’s Best Setter in 2015, as well as Best Defensive Player and MVP in 2016. “You guys had to take a big break in California because they took down all the nets. All I did was go buy my own net, set it up on the sand court area, and I was playing throughout all the off-season and pre-season time. I never really took a break.”

So yes, Ratledge was correct in his assumption that del Sol was going to make it work. They’ve only played one tournament together, AVP Chicago this past season. It was more than enough for Ratledge to know that del Sol was as good an option as any. In just their second match as a team, they upset Tim Bomgren and Troy Field, who had made three semifinals and a final that year.

“He’s as hard a worker I’ve ever played with or seen,” said Ratledge, who played the majority of 2019 with Rafu Rodriguez. “He got out and got after it during Covid time and that’s going to make him a lot better player than some of the others. I’m happy with how quickly he was able to change the cues with what I gave him. He’s coachable and he doesn’t have an ego so big that he doesn’t want to run the parts of the show that I know I should be running, but he does have a big enough ego that he can run the show on the parts I want him to run.”

The call from Ratledge, which came only a day before the registration deadline, was a life preserver of sorts for del Sol’s season. Of the players he was considering, only Ratledge would have enough points to pull him into the qualifier. Not only did he pull him into the qualifier, but it puts them at No. 8, safely in for the next three weeks.

“He has a really high sense of the game, how to maneuver the court, whether you’re a passer, setter or hitter,” del Sol said. “The fact that he’s so controlled and has the knowledge behind his game of years and years of experience, it just makes it easy to connect with a guy who really knows how to play at a high level.”

Read our other new AVP Champions Cup Partnerships features:

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