The main draw of the AVP Seattle Open kicks off today, and two new partnerships on the men’s side and a return to competition by three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor on the women’s will be attracting the most attention.
The men’s tournament is back up to full strength with the return of Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthalthough now competing with new partners Nick Lucena and Theo Brunner, respectivelyand Tri Bourne and John Hyden. On the women’s side, Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat will once again sit out. The duo, currently the top-ranked American women’s team on the international tour, seems to be channeling all of their energy into international tournaments and qualifying for the Rio Olympics. Because of their extraction from the tournament, Amanda Wiggins and Andrea Peterson were bumped up from the qualifier and into the No. 12 main draw spot.
Eight teams joined the 24 automatic entries in the main draw after yesterday’s AVP Seattle Open qualifier. On the men’s side, fan favorites Riley and Madison McKibbin, otherwise known as the Beard Bros, defeated Marty Lorenz and Raffe Paulis in three to earn their ticket to the main draw. It’s the second consecutive qualification for the duo, and they will play their former USC teammate Tri Bourne and John Hyden in the first round of the main draw.
Will Montgomery and Ed Ratledge took out Kevin McColloch and Matt Motter in their final qualifier match. The 38-year-old Ratledge played in his first AVP tournament 15 years ago and boasts seven fifth place finishes on tour, while Montgomery, 25, earned a seventh in 2013 with Avery Drost, but so far this year has gotten two 13ths (one with Ratledge and the other with Jeremy Casebeer). Montgomery and Ratledge will take on No. 4 seed Ryan Doherty and John Mayer in the first round of the main draw.
Taylor Crabb, the 2013 AVCA National Player of the Year, and his partner Spencer McLachlin, both products of Hawaii’s top-notch juniors scene, qualified for their second main draw of the year with a defeat of Jersey boy Shane Donohue and Jake Rosener (who qualified with Raffe Paulis in New York City). Theyll seek to challenge Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena in the No. 2-seeded partnership’s debut.
The final team to qualify was Paul Arazia and Alejandro Parra. This duo of 30-something Californians has played in every AVP tournament this year; however, this is their first time qualifying this season. As the lowest qualifier seed to advance, they will face No. 1 seeds and two-time 2015 AVP champions Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson in the first round.
In the women’s qualifier, Briana Hinga and Kathrin Winkler secured their spot in the main draw with a solid defeat of qualifier No. 1 seed Branagan Fuller and Meg Dawson (21-18, 21-11). Hinga, a former UC San Diego basketball player and javelin thrower, and Germany native Winkler have played together on-and-off since 2013 and will seek to upset New York City champs Emily Day and Jen Kessy in the first round.
Lynne Galli and Lisa Rutledge steamrolled through their competition, preventing both opponents they played on their way to qualifying from scoring more than 13 points. Theyll face the relatively new duo of Lane Carico and Summer Ross, who are playing in their first AVP event together after debuting their partnership at the Yokohama Grand Slam where they finished ninth.
Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler, both rising juniors on the USC beach volleyball team, defeated fellow college beach players Delaney Knudsen of Pepperdine and Katie Spieler of Hawaii in the first round of the qualifier before taking down Wisconsin natives Kerri Schuh and Julie Kolinske to qualify. They now are in the unenviable position of meeting top seeds April Ross and Jen Fopma in the first round.
Rounding out the 16 team main draw are Besti Flint and Kelley Larsen. The two former NCAA beach stars, fresh off a fifth-place finish at the Pan Am Games, came into the qualifier as the No. 2 seed so they only had to win one game to qualify, and qualify they did, pulling off the victory over Janelle Allen and Traci Morin. As the top-ranked qualifier seed to advance, they will take on the No. 4 seed in the main draw, Kim DiCello and Kendra Van Zwieten.