Karissa Cook has been trying to take an “off season” from beach volleyball since the AVP Championships in Chicago. That was in September. And her season just keeps going, extended by a NORCECA qualifier, which preceded NORCECAs in Punta Cana and Martinique at the end of October.

Now, there’s one more stop being added: Moscow. Although it’s somewhat important to note that Moscow will not be played on a beach, but on snow.

Yes, the Winter Olympics are reportedly seeking to piggyback on the success of beach volleyball, quadrennially one of the highlights of the Summer Games. There was an exhibition at the PyeongChang Games in 2018, hauling in a host of Olympians and gold medalists such as Brazilian Emanuel Rego and Vladimir Grbic of Serbia. The demonstration was an interesting affair, with the snow — raked and chopped up into a powder at the beginning of the match — being packed into ice by the end.

Either way, when Cook received an email from USA Volleyball in early December asking if any players were interested in a snow volleyball event in Moscow on December 20, there was no hesitation.

“I was like ‘Of course,’ ” Cook said. “Anything that’s that bizarre, I’m 100-percent interested.”

She emailed Phil Noyes, USAV’s coordinator for beach teams, and asked for any additional details and what she needed to do to get into the event. First order of business was to assemble a team, which would need at least three, probably four, players for the 3 vs. 3 format snow volleyball takes.

The first call went to Katie Spieler, Cook’s partner on the AVP and NORCECA during the 2018 season.

“She texted me like five minutes later,” Cook said. Spieler was in. So were Allie Wheeler and Emily Hartong.

They had a team. As for how to train? Or what the rules are? Or what to wear? Well, those are yet to be figured out.

“I feel like this doesn’t really count as volleyball,” Cook said of her volleyball season essentially becoming a year-round enterprise. “I haven’t seen a ton of snow volleyball but from what I have seen it doesn’t look like a ton of lateral movement, it’s really slippery. When I saw that I was actually encouraged because that looks like me on regular sand…

“I do not like being cold at all, so that part is going to obviously be a problem. It might be a ‘Wear every jacket you have’ type of situation. I know pretty much nothing about this tournament other than we were 100 percent in to do it.”

Whether or not USAV can get everything else prepared in time to send both a girls and a guys team is yet to be determined. On the men’s side, Lloy Ball, Kevin Owens and Will Robins are scheduled to compete.

“We’re gonna get a story out of this no matter what,” Cook said.

AVP to host Toy Drive: Through December 20, the AVP is hosting a Toy Drive to help those affected by the California wildfires. The AVP partnered with the My Stuff Bags Foundation, which provides new belongings, comfort, and hope to thousands of children each year.

This year was the worst on record for California wildfires. A total of 8,434 fires burned an area of 1,890,438 acres, causing nearly $4 billion in damages. The most recent fires, Woolsey and Camp Fire, combined to destroy more than 18,000 structures.

To help, you can donate a toy or stuffed animal to the following locations:
Oasis Volleyball Club
5555 W. McFadden Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92649

Advanced Dermatology Care Center
19582 Beach Blvd. #217
Huntington Beach, CA 90648

Trilogy Spa
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd. 
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Gahr High School
11111 Artesia Blvd.
Cerritos, CA 90703

Paradise Bowls
1246 Hermosa Ave.
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Hughes-Stoklos win AVP Fantasy title: One of the fun aspects of off-season is seeing how the various tours and organizations stay busy on social media. For the previous few weeks, the AVP has been running a fantasy tournament on Twitter, putting together co-ed teams of volleyball greats from all generations.

The winner, in a tight “championship match” of the inaugural AVP Fantasy Championships, was Sara Hughes and Randy Stoklos over Todd Rogers and Misty May-Treanor.

Fendrick announces big news in fun way: This past Saturday, Lauren Fendrick and her husband, Andrew Fuller, put together a little highlight reel for her Stanford beach team. And it was fun, and the girls got a kick out of a bonus clip of Fuller’s playing days.

Then came the next “highlight” of a likely volleyball player to be: Baby Fendrick kicking in an ultrasound. The girls, of course, lost it. So a big congrats is due to Fendrick and Fuller, and in a season of feel-good videos, this one’s right at the top.

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