ISSAQUAH, Wash. Qualifying finished Thursday as the AVP Seattle benefits from perfect weather, mostly sunny and beautiful with predicted highs of 81, 85, and 92 degrees, as play continues Friday on the shores of Lake Sammamish.
Kerri Walsh-Jennings/April Ross, Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, Emily Day/Jen Kessy, and Amanda Dowdy/Emily Stockman are competing abroad, providing opportunities for those who stayed state-side. The field that remains is deep and capable and it’s fair to expect plenty of three-set matches this weekend.
In qualifying Thursday, No. 17 Karissa Cook/Brittany Tiegs fought through a tough quarter over No. 25 Madison/McKenna Witt 21-15, 14-21, 15-12. No. 4 Meg Dawson/Delaney Knudsen passed No. 5 Kristine Monforte/Traci Morin 21-14, 21-12. No. 6 Katey Schroeder/LeAnn Starr upset No. 3 Aurora Davis/Bree Scarbrough 21-18, 14-21, 15-11. No. 2 Leah DeKok/Amanda Wiggins outlasted No. 7 Lauren Dickson/Taylor Nutterfield 21-17, 12-21, 15-11. The win marked DeKok’s first 16-team draw.
So happy to qualify with Amanda and make it into my first 16 team draw!, DeKok said.
I had so much fun playing with Leah and I am so proud of her and of us for the way we battled today, Wiggins said. We never gave up and fought for every point. I am excited to compete with her in the main draw and see what we can do.
No. 1 seed Kim DiCello/Kendra VanZwieten have some career-best finishes this year with a first in New Orleans and a third at Huntington. VanZwieten was named best defensive player of 2015, and will continue to earn that title.
No. 2 Lane Carico/Summer Ross have been competing internationally, finishing with a strong 17th in Moscow. They might be the team to beat in Seattle. This youthful team is likely to contend for Tokyo 2020.
No. 3 Angela Bensend/Geena Urango: This team has been knocking on the door, making it to the champioship match in New Orleans and Huntington Beach. They play fearlessly and serve aggressively, making them one of the most fun teams to watch. It seems inevitable that they will eventually win a title.
No. 4 Jennifer Fopma/Brittany Hochevar: This team has been playing well on the international tour, having a pair of ninth-place finishes this year. They are tall, athletic, and play with intensity. They are likely to outperform their seed this weekend.
Teams to watch:
No. 8 Janelle Allen/Megan Wallin-Brockway: This team finished fifth at New Orleans. Wallin-Brockway puts up one of the biggest blocks on the beach, yet moves athletically and pulls well. Allen excels at reading hitters and defends well. This is a dangerous team that is difficult to side out against.
No. 10 Christal Engle/Tealle Hunkus: Theyre together again for the first time this year. Due to their extensive experience together, they shouldnt skip a beat. Engle is literally at home in Washington, where she was an indoor All-American. Engle finished seventh at Huntington on only three practices, so look for Engle to climb the ranks.
In the men’s qualifier, No. 1 Paul Araiza/Alejandro Parra survived a 28-26, 21-18 scare over No. 8 Miles Evans/Spencer McLachlin. No. 13 Kevin McColloch/Roberto Rodriguez-Bertran won in straight sets over No. 5 Raffe Paulis/Ian Satterfield 21-16, 21-13.
“It was super fun to play with Rafu today and we get a crack at the guys who just qualified for the Olympics. That in itself is an honor and we hope to give them all they can handle.” said McColloch.
No. 3 Avery Drost/Gregg Weaver beat No. 11 Jason Medero/Kevin Villela convincingly 21-14, 21-18. No. 2 Maddison/Riley McKibbin advanced over No. 10 Chris Littleman/Roman Onishchenko 21-18, 21-18.
As main draw play starts tomorrow, a number of teams are also absent due to international competition. Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena and Tri Bourne/John Hyden are preparing for the Hamburg Major, the last event of Olympic qualification. Ryan Doherty/John Mayer are out due to an ankle injury to Ryan Doherty, who said: “It is obviously frustrating having to withdraw from a tournament at the last minute, especially when it is a great venue like the AVP in Seattle. But this is just a part of being an athlete, sometimes your body doesn’t cooperate. I’m going to be diligent with my recovery and hopefully be back on the sand soon.”
Teams to watch:
No. 1 seed Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson are the class of the field and are expected to win. They play at an altitude that few teams can match, and with a high level of consistency.
No. 2 seed Taylor/Trevor Crabb are still improving. Taylor is exploring the limits of what a 6-foot player can accomplish, but the breadth of his toolbox is impressive.
No. 3 Stafford Slick/Ty Tramblie: Slick is returning from a retinal injury sustained at AVP New Orleans. The team may or may not win, but they are a lock for the best hair competition.
No. 4 Billy Allen/Theo Brunner: Allen and Brunner read the game as well as any team on the tour. Their experience allows them a steady composure that carries them through more than their share of close matches.
No. 5 Robbie Page/Todd Rogers: Page has potential in spades, and is advancing rapidly under Rogers tutelage. If they dont break out this weekend, it will be soon.
No. 14 Maddison/Riley McKibbin: This qualifier team doesnt play like a qualifier team. They are physical, and have a complete complement of skills. They notched a ninth at Huntington; this is a team that nobody wants to see in the early rounds.
For live scoring:
The live stream is here:
NBCSN will show the finals at 1 p.m. Pacific Sunday.