The AVPNext Gold New Orleans tournament this past weekend surprised me in a big way. Sure, it had a quality field, with plenty of great stories to be told. And certainly a $20,000 purse doesn’t hurt, plus the all-important AVP qualifying points.
But the biggest surprise was the New Orleans (well, suburban Kenner) southern hospitality. Plus that the country is coming out of the pandemic and yearning to resume life.
Everybody that I talked to had a great time. They might have lost a round or two before they had anticipated, but they all appreciated the chance to compete, to test their skills and athleticism, to do what they had been training for for months.
The mood was overwhelmingly positive and it wasn’t even dampened by a two-hour rain delay Saturday, or a 20-minute lightning delay Sunday. The tournament field and fans had an indomitably positive spirit about them, and it was just a joy to share in that.
And I think that came out in the photos. The fans shared in the players’ joy, especially as locals Kristen Nuss and Evan Cory won.
A particularly funny quarterfinal story comes to mind. The crowd, fueled by a few beers, exhorted Evan Cory to skyball serve. He complied, and went for extra height at the expense of accuracy. The ball landed about 20 feet short of the net, much to the amusement of the crowd.
Not done yet, they encouraged Brad Connors, Cory’s opponent, to skyball as well. And he, too, went for max altitude rather than accuracy. His skyball traveled 30 yards backwards over the fence into an adjacent parking lot, putting the crowd (and Connors) into stitches.
Everyone was ready to have fun, to enjoy a taste of normalcy, to resume the lives that we had previously shared in the singular pursuit of preventing the volleyball from hitting the sand.
I’m not sure how 2021 will go, but if last weekend’s AVPNext Gold in New Orleans was any barometer, we’ll have a blast. I certainly did, and hope to return next year.
Sunday’s photos follow — if you missed Saturday’s photos, they’re here, and our tournament synopsis can be found here.
Apologies to those that I didn’t get a chance to photograph. Hopefully we’ll share other opportunities.
Oh, and if you didn’t make the galleries, all 582 of Saturday’s photos are at VBshots.com, with 517 Sunday photos here.
Click on any photo to view it full size:
John Hamilton accelerates for the save/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Troy Field intercepts a Piotr Marciniak spike/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Macy Jerger makes a diving save/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Brad Connors joins the crowd for a beer during his match/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Piotr Marciniak goes high line over Logan Webber/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Eric Beranek passes a short serve/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Dillon Cox tosses for his jump serve/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Standing room only inside Coconut Beach during the 20 minute lightning delay/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Coconut Beach during the lightning delay/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Brett Greiner digs a crosscourt spike/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Evan Cory gets an open net/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Larissa Franca Maestrini jump serves/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Logan Webber hits line during the men’s final/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Paul Lotman overruns the ball but recovers to make a dig/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Megan Gebhard lays out for a low pass/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Evan Cory jumpsets to draw the defense/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Kyle Friend makes a running dig/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Brad Connors hits line/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Courtney Baleiko gets underneath the ball to dig overhand/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Amy Reichel celebrates/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Piotr Marciniak: is it really a tournament if you don’t get a shot of his signature jump bump?
Skyler Germann hustles for a shot/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Kristen Nuss makes an athletic save/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Katie Spieler celebrates a point/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Kristen Nuss lays out for a shot/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Evan Cory collapses after winning the tournament/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Hailey Harward extends for a dig/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Nathan Yang turns one down the line/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Andrew Dentler hits a cut shot/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Katie Spieler celebrates a Torrey Van Winden block/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Evan Cory punches it through the block/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Logan Webber celebrates the tournament win/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Eric Beranek tries for the foot save/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Eric Beranek spikes against Piotr Marciniak in the semifinals/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Tomas Goldsmith picks up sand in frustration/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Piotr Marciniak jousts with Logan Webber/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Larissa Franca Maestrini, Liliane Maestrini (if this serve is a hubby-wife in coed, is this a wife-wife serve?)/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Eric Beranek dives for the tight pass while Piotr Marciniak blocks his progress/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Katie Lindstrom digs in the pouring rain/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Troy Field kongs a Rafu Rodriguez spike attempt/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Sometimes even twins fight: Veronica Corcoran, Victoria Corcoran/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Troy Field hustles for the dig/Ed Chan, VBshots.com