Beach bytes: Volleyball wedding, p1440 HB format, AVP fantasy tournament

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David Ryan Vander Meer-Tiffany Burke

What happens in Vegas …

Hopefully, in this case, stays permanent ‘till death do them part.

On Friday evening at p1440/FIVB Las Vegas, right on stadium court, AVP dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate David Ryan Vander Meer tied the knot with Tiffany Burke.

The ceremony came after Betsi Flint and Emily Day upset Sara Hughes and Summer Ross and, as it can go with Vegas, it was, for the most part, unplanned, spontaneous, and quite beautiful, to tell you the truth.

The initial plan was to retreat to a little chapel at the end of the day and enjoy a quiet ceremony with a few friends and family. And then the refs, a sort of second family to Vander Meer, caught wind of it. They weren’t having it.

“My dad’s been an official for 20 years,” Vander Meer said. “So I’ve known most of these officials since I was [little]. As soon as they found out I was going to get married they said ‘We’ve got to do something. This kid’s like family!’ As soon as the refs found out, they were like ‘Hey, how would you like to get married on center court?’ And we were like ‘That would be incredible!’ And they said ‘Ok, we got you!’

“So they pulled together a few dozen chairs and arranged them as if stadium court were suddenly made for wedding ceremonies, with an aisle down the middle and everything. They called up a minister, who performed a smooth little ceremony. They overnighted leis from Hawai’i, because the refs knew Burke was born in Hawaii and her parents were married with leis.

Even the kitchen staff got involved, baking a cake to cut afterwards, sliced, of course, with their ref badges, polished off with a bottle of champagne – the same exact champagne they drank the day they met, at the Laguna Beach Open in early June.

“They really surprised us,” Vander Meer said. “My mind is still blown. I still can’t believe that happened.”

AVP Twitter fantasy dream-team: The AVP season isn’t over yet! Not on the internet, at least. The AVP’s social media team launched a cool little post-season “tournament” so to speak, this past week, compiling 16 co-ed “dream teams” consisting of volleyball legends of both present and past.

You can vote by following the AVP on twitter, which posts a few polls per day for users to vote on each matchup.

p1440 Top Guns, Young Guns at Huntington Beach: After a few setbacks, changes, and maneuvering, p1440 finalized its date for its Huntington Beach event, moving it up to November 30-December 2, the initial slot for San Diego, while pushing the San Diego event back one year.

The formats, too, have seen some tinkering, before p1440 settled upon a pair of tournaments, a “Top Guns” tournament featuring 16 of the best players from around the world, and a “Young Guns” tournament, which will be a 24-team draw with modified pool play preceding a 16-team single-elimination tournament.

The Top Guns event is invitation only, and it will follow a unique format, featuring four pools of four in which each player will play with everyone in their pool. The top two finishers from pool play will then select their partner of the 14 remaining for the finals, which will be played on Sunday.

The Young Guns tournament, meanwhile, is a bit of a misnomer, as it isn’t necessarily all “young” players. It is, simply, the best of the rest, as the 24 teams not participating in the Top Guns will be slotted in to the Young Guns field. And that field, too, should be populated with a host of familiar names, as the AVP has begun granting dispensation to its athletes.

Unlike San Jose and Las Vegas, p1440 will not be airing Huntington Beach on ABC. All viewing can be done on the p1440 livestream. The total purse for the event is $300,000, $150,000 per tournament.

Dowdy returns to Texas Tech: Amanda Dowdy is, arguably, the greatest indoor volleyball player in Texas Tech history, a four-year starter who graduated as the all-time kills leader in Red Raider history. Earlier this month, she returned to Lubbock to watch her Red Raiders match up with Baylor in what would eventually become a 1-3 loss.

“I left this program — my legacy was to leave this program better than I found it. That’s what I wanted to do,” she said in a sideline interview. “I feel like I did that. These girls are winning. They have a shot at the tournament hopefully and I’m really proud of them. Really proud. It’s awesome to see.”

Walsh Jennings surprises MBSand practice: On Nov. 9, the 60-plus up-and-coming beach volleyball players competing for the Manhattan Beach-based club, MBSand, received a surprise visit from the G.O.A.T. Kerri Walsh-Jennings dropped by practice, providing tips and pointers on all facets of the game and discussing her plans for making a run at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“I am inherently just a motivated human being,” she said. “I love being really good at things and I love chasing big dreams. And I feel like, in beach volleyball, even though I’ve had a really beautiful, successful and fulfilling career thus far, I feel like there’s more in me and there’s more to learn and grow, more improvement to be had.

“Ultimately, I feel like chasing my sixth Olympic Games in Tokyo and my fourth gold medal. The personal growth that is going to have to happen to achieve those dreams is what excites me so much while at the same time helping the sport to grow to the next level and the next level as I chase these dreams is a big mission of mine.

“This sport deserves to be in the spotlight 365, 24/7 every year. That’s a big mission of mine: To win, and to help the sport win as well.”

Bourne chooses Crabb, they choose Loiola: The Olympic partnerships are being confirmed, one by one. With John Mayer retiring, the dominoes have begun to fall, as he is now coaching the new/old team of Billy Allen and Stafford Slick, which left two big names as “free agents,” so to speak, in Casey Patterson and Ryan Doherty.

Doherty has since reunited with John Hyden. Patterson hasn’t announced one way or the other. But those in search of a blocker will now have two crossed off their list of potential partners, as Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, lifelong friends who struck a partnership at the end of the 2018 season, have committed to make a run at Tokyo.

Coaching the two will be Jose Loiola, who also coaches Summer Ross and Sara Hughes.

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