Perhaps the final major partnership swap of the season was announced earlier this week, when Karissa Cook confirmed that she’d be playing this season with Summer Ross.
“Summer is an amazing volleyball player and such a positive competitor that I know we’ll have fun out there,” said Cook, who is currently in Korea visiting former Stanford teammate Hayley Spellman. “We’ve played against each other on the beach and indoors since we were kids so I’m stoked to finally be on the same side of the net as her.”
Cook enjoyed a breakout 2019 season with Jace Pardon, winning her first AVP in Austin and earning the AVP’s Breakthrough Team of the Year. They finished in the top 10 in six out of seven AVPs, and won the United States’ first gold medal at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Ross, who has been playing full-time beach since 2013, had a bit of a topsy turvy year. After a successful 2018 season with Sara Hughes, the two were competing for an Olympic spot in Tokyo when a back injury stalled out half of the 2019 year. Professionally, Ross and Cook have only played against one another once, at AVP Hermosa of 2018. But the two, as Cook mentioned, have been on opposite sides of the net since they were kids, and both have had success with any partner they’ve played with thus far.
“I’m equally excited to keep exploring more of a defensive role after blocking and split blocking the last few years,” Cook said. “I’m looking forward to new challenges this year and a lot of growth.”
This should put an end to what has been a relatively quiet off-season of partner switches on the women’s side. Hughes has turned to Lauren Fendrick, and the two won their first event together, a two-star in Cambodia two weeks ago.
Pardon has not yet confirmed a partner, and neither has blocker Amanda Dowdy, who played 2019 with Corinne Quiggle. The majority of the top, however, remained much the same, as four teams are still vying for Olympic spots and the fifth, Betsi Flint and Emily Day, have proven to be a fantastic team on the AVP Tour.
Slick, Allen win Doha country quota — Billy Allen and Stafford Slick earned their way into the four-star FIVB Doha, Qatar tournament on Thursday afternoon. They won a country-quota match in Hermosa Beach over Chaim Schalk and Chase Budinger, with Slick putting down a huge block to win 15-13 in the third set.
FIVB snow volleyball stops — After its wild and weird and wonderful inaugural season, snow volleyball returns on the FIVB’s schedule for a second year. The first event will be March 12-15 at Kayseri-Erciyes Ski Center, one of Turkey’s most reputable ski resorts. Turkey is set to host the debut event for the next three snow volleyball seasons.
The tour will take a few months off before returning in Argentina on August 20-23. Argentina hosted last year as well, and the Argentinian snow volleyball teams were one of the most consistent on tour. Other stops are still under consideration.