Beach notes: Hyden to play with Brunner, FIVB testing block rule in China

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T.Y. Yan of China digs in qualification play/FIVB photo

Change is the norm in beach volleyball.

Just six weeks ago, John Hyden teamed with Ryan Doherty to win the last event of the American pro season, AVP Chicago.

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John Hyden (top) and Theo Brunner (bottom) will play together in the 2018 season/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Now the 45-year-old Hyden, who became the oldest player to win an AVP event, will play with Theo Brunner, 32, in 2018.

“I’ve watched Theo over the year. He’s a big block, something you need out there these days, his ball control has improved a great deal,” Hyden told VolleyballMag.com. “I thought we meshed well and he complements my game really well.

“Theo’s the kind of blocker that touches just about every ball, he’s always affecting the hitter somehow. He moves really well laterally. A lot of teams are moving the blocker around and that’s what you need these days, a very agile blocker.

“He brings his experience from indoors, his lateral movement along the net to our game.”

Brunner is excited about playing with the veteran Hyden.

“John brings experience and knowledge like no other. I’m going to seize the opportunity and learn as much as I can from him, and I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Hyden and Doherty also made it to the final of FIVB Olsztyn in Poland last summer. Brunner played  with Casey Patterson last season. Their best finishes were fourth in FIVB Rio de Janeiro and thirds in AVP Huntington and AVP Manhattan Beach.

Doherty, the 7-foot former pitcher at Notre Dame, played with John Mayer in 2016, while Hyden partnered with Tri Bourne. No word on who Doherty and Patterson will play with in 2018.

FIVB to test block rule in China: A three-star FIVB event began Wednesday in Qinzhou, China and it’s the first event to employ a new test rule that the block does not count as a touch. That will allow for three contacts after the block.

The FIVB said it will be evaluated through February 25, 2018, at which time it will analyze the statistics, along with a survey of players, coaches, officials, organizers, and media to determine if the rule will be instituted for the 2018 season.

The FIVB said it hopes to lengthen rallies and that will help grow the sport.

Going to China tmro to play with this rule,”  American pro player Mark Burik said on his Facebook page. “Just a few practices with it. For sure, HATE IT. Observation today, it would definitely create more double big guy options for teams. Using the block for some tools and pressure isn’t a great option any more.

“ANY time you get touched on a block is now a free ball. Makes first ball termination SUPREMELY IMPORTANT even more than it is now and yes it shortens rallies. Knowing that you must terminate hard on the first ball will lead to more high risk swings from the offense.

“This rule would lead to diggers who can be less perfect and hitters who MUST TERMINATE at the first opportunity. It changes a lot about swing selection. However!!!! Practicing with this rule might have the advantage of making a player understand that they need to finish plays on their first attempt.”

Six USA teams in China: And that includes the continuation of the pairing of April Ross and Kelly Claes. Also in the 32-team single elimination main-draw that begins Thursday are Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross, Lauren Fendrick and Nicole Branagh, Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar, Burik and Bill Kolinske, and Eric Zaun and Stafford Slick.

Fendrick-Branagh play Nicole Eiholzer and Dunja Gerson of Switzerland at 10:10 pm. Eastern Thursday.

Ross-Claes play Kinga Kolosinska and Katarzyna Kociolek of Poland at 11:30 p.m. Eastern.

Day-Hochevar play Jagoda Gruszczynska and Aleksandra Gromadowska of Poland at 12:20 a.m Eastern on Friday.

Burik-Kolinske take on a tough Belgian team of Dries Koekelkoren and Tom Van Walle at 12:20 a.m. Eastern Friday.

Sweat-Ross start their tournament against Megan Nagy and Marie-Christine Lapointe of Canada at 1:10 a.m. Eastern Friday.

Zaun-Slick’s first opponent is Youssef Krou and Quincy Aye of France at 2:20 a.m. Eastern Friday.

The semifinals and finals will be shown on the FIVB’s YouTube channel. Click here for that link and all the NCAA TV and streaming listings.

The final two events of the FIVB schedule are a one-star October 25-29 in Aalsmer, Netherlands, and a two-star November 22-26 in Sydney, Australia.

Walsh Jennings to speak at LA84 Foundation Summit: Beach-volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings and track star Allyson Felix are keynote speakers October 27 at the sixth annual LA84 Foundation Summit at the JW Marriott in L.A. Live in Los Angeles.

The summit’s theme is “The New Era of Youth Sports: Play for All.”

Walsh Jennings’ speech is entitled “Inspiring and Delivering the Next Generation of Youth Sports.”

“I’m thrilled to be part of this year’s LA84 Foundation Summit and am eager to support the important work that they do to create opportunities for all kids to participate in sports,” Walsh Jennings said on the Summit website. “I know what a key role access to sports and the support system around me played when I was a kid, and without that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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Future AVP star Scout Sequoia McColloch

Baby McColloch: Congratulations to AVP professionals Kevin McColloch and Ali McColloch, who announced on their Facebook page the arrival of future star Scout Sequoia McColloch. Scout was born October 2 at 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 21 inches.

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