It’s hard to believe how much beach volleyball news there is in November, but it was a busy week, from California to Florida, Switzerland to the Middle East, from the AVP to the FIVB to the NVL.
- There was the AVP Awards Banquet at Marina Green Park in Newport Beach this past Saturday with the Serving Up Style fashion show and fundraiser for AVPFirst on Sunday.
- The FIVB released the 2018 beach calendar at its World Tour Council meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.
- The NVL had an exhibition event in the Bahamas.
- Meanwhile, AVP pros Ty Loomis, Ty Tramblie, Jennifer Snyder and Tealle Hunkus supported USA troops abroad in a 16-day, 10 stop, five-country tour of the Middle East and Africa.
- In Deerfield Beach, Fla., the 8th annual Ranse Jones classic raised money for stroke awareness.
- The last of the fall NCAA beach-volleyball tournaments were held at Rally Point Beach Complex in Emerson, Georgia, and at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.
Plus a few odds and ends …
AVP Awards Banquet: The year-ending AVP awards banquet, at the Marina Green Park in Newport Beach, culminated the AVP’s expanded eight-stop tour for 2017, with more points and prize money for the three designated “Gold Series” stops.
To the surprise of, well, no one, Phil Dalhausser and April Ross walked away with much of the Awards Banquet hardware. Dalhausser received accolades for Most Valuable Player, Best Offensive Player, Best Blocker, and Best Server, as well as comprising half of the Men’s Team of the Year with Nick Lucena.
Similarly, Ross received recognition as Most Valuable Player, Best Offensive Player, and Best Server.
Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar were the Women’s Team of the Year.
Lauren Fendrick took home the Best Blocker award, while Taylor Crabb and Brooke Sweat received Best Defender.
Stafford Slick and Caitlin Ledoux were the Most Improved Players, while Brazilians Maria Salgado and Ricardo Santos were named Newcomers of the Year.
Alix Klineman and Eric Zaun got Rookie of the Year honors.
AVPFirst’s second Serving Up Style: Serving Up Style combines a fashion show featuring AVP stars and an induction ceremony for the newest member of the Wall of Champions, Christopher St. John “Sinjin” Smith.
Smith joins inaugural inductee Todd Rogers as the second honoree. Proceeds from the event assist AVPFirst in its community outreach initiatives.
“Tonight is the culmination of another successful year of AVPFirst programming,” AVPFirst Executive Director Tony Giarla said at the event held at Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. “It would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and valued guests. Because of their contributions, AVPFirst programs will impact a greater number of underserved youth in the coming year than ever before, ultimately allowing us to build positive communities, one volleyball team at a time.”
The fashion show featured AVP athletes Stafford Slick, Billy Allen, Ed Ratledge, Avery Drost, Caitlin Ledoux, Maria Salgado, Janelle Allen, Jace Pardon, Brittany Tiegs and Katie Spieler.
AVP player and model-for-a-day Drost, who finished third in AVP Hermosa this year with Chase Frishman, found the production of the event far more complex than simply walking a runway.
“The overwhelming takeaway from it is, ‘Wow, this is way more serious than I ever thought.’ They put a lot of work into it. I never realized so much went into a runway walk, but there definitely is.
“The production crew really puts a lot of work into the show, so it’s not a few people that slap on a set of clothes and go for a walk. They have everyone in very specific clothing that the sponsors are invested in, there’s a very specific order, it’s choreographed with music and lights, behind the scenes you are changing clothes really quickly to the next outfit, there are people that are actually there to help you get out of your clothes and into the next outfit as fast as possible. They’re called changers and their job is to pull the shirt off you while you’re pulling your pants on.
“It’s just crazy because you’ve got to get in line for your next walk coming up at a set time, and there’s a director who’s got an assistant with a headset on, and he’s telling you exactly when it’s time to walk. We rehearsed it with music and with the director, it’s so well put together.
“And of course there were real professional models mixed in with us volleyball players that knew what they were doing, as opposed to us volleyball players that had no idea what we were doing. It’s really fun to hang out backstage, try on some cool clothes, and then go out and walk.
Drost said there was a lot to learn.
“The director taught us how to walk, put one foot right in line with the other, so your walk is narrow, your feet almost cross over when you walk, how to swing your arms, where to look with your eyes. There’s a lot to it, there’s a specific way you’re supposed to stop and pause, make a turn, and return down the runway.
“Then you get out there, and it’s hard to not laugh or make a face, with all the people you know sitting in the audience. They’re smiling, laughing, and cheering, but you’re told to have a straight face and look like you’re too cool for everyone. It’s really funny, and honestly, it’s a really good time.
Drost found that he was more nervous strutting his stuff than on the beach.
“Walking a runway makes me more nervous than playing on center court. Playing on center court, I’m doing something I do every day, walking the runway I feel really out of place, but that’s what’s fun about it. I can challenge myself, do something new, and try and do a good job.
“I think everybody was nervous back there getting ready to go on, especially when you realize there’s a tight schedule to keep, and you don’t want to mess it up. There are a lot of eyes on you. When you’re playing, you kind of forget about the crowd, because you’re not playing for the crowd, so to speak, but in a fashion show, you’re doing it for the crowd. It was really fun, I would do it again.”
FIVB 2018 calendar released: The number of events has doubled from 22 to 44, with prize money in excess of $7 million, up from $3.3 million last year. The schedule contains three confirmed five-star events: Fort Lauderdale (USA), Gstaad (Switzerland), and Vienna (Austria), and an unconfirmed five-star event in Croatia, plus the World Tour Finals at a location to be announced at the end of this month.
Two improvements were also announced: qualification tournaments will be spread to all events, and modified pool play will be employed at all one- to four-star events during preliminary play.
Of particular note is a new four-star event in Huntington Beach May 2-6.
The 2018 schedule also includes 11 four-star events, five three-star events, five two-star events, and 17 one-star events.
The schedule can be downloaded here.
NVL in the Bahamas: The exhibition event at the Driftwood Beach Festival in Bimini, a chain of islands in the Bahamas, featured NVL pros as well as a reggae All-Star band. The NVL partnered with Resorts World Bimini in raising money for the Global Empowerment Mission to assist with hurricane relief work.
“Very few of the hotels in the Bahamas are even at 20-percent occupancy,” the NVL’s Albert Hannemann said, “but they were nearly sold out. It was nice to see that many people in Bimini for our weekend. It was really fun.”
“The Driftwood Beach Festival is one of a series of events where we bring the NVL along to similar lifestyle components that we all love: music, volleyball, beach, fashion, and cuisine. It’s about giving people an enhanced experience with volleyball involved. We’re introducing volleyball to new events and new venues.”
The NVL is also looking to hire a Director of Sales for the NVL Academy. If you think you have what it takes, contact Melissa@thenvl.com
8th annual Ranse Jones Classic: The event in Deerfield Beach, Fla., honors Ranse Jones, who suffered a brain aneurysm in the Panama City AVP Young Guns tournament and subsequently died on November 8, 2010.
The tournament is a grab-bag event, meaning that there are four hats representing four divisions. Pools play King of the Beach round-robin style, with the top two players advancing to the single elimination Open/AAA bracket, while the bottom two players advance to the single elimination AA/A bracket.
The tournament attracted a total of 240 players.
“It was an amazing event,” organizer Diogo Sousa said. “We all gathered together to celebrate a great friend’s passing in Ranse Jones. Everyone gathered together to not only celebrate what Ranse Jones stood for, but the beach volleyball community is there to spread love and compassion and friendship. We’re all a family, and that’s what’s really important to us, to keep that going.”
The men’s open champions were Lucas Ormos and Brandon Lozano, while Alexa Downey and Flavia Fernandez won the women’s open division.
Runners-up were Jonathan Rogers and Gergley Takacvs for the men, Kendra VanZwieten and Christina Koenig for the women.
“The Ranse Classic is my favorite tournament of the year,” Lozano said. “It embodies everything that makes the beach volleyball community great. It is so much more than volleyball. It’s a family coming together and showing how much love they have for each other.
“Ranse was an incredible person, and this tournament is the perfect way for his legacy to live on. Winning the tournament is great, particularly because of what it represents.
“However, that is far from why I enjoy the tournament so much. Seeing people come together for Ranse is an incredible sight and I look forward to every year. I urge every person to come and partake in this beautiful celebration of life and live the phrase ‘live simple, play hard.’ ”
More information on the Ranse Classic can be found here.
AVP pros support troops abroad: Ty Loomis, Ty Tramblie, Jennifer Snyder, and Tealle Hunkus visited USA troops stationed in Africa and the Middle East.
The trip is Loomis’ eighth.
“Every year I visit the troops, it’s gets more emotional, more grateful, and our message of promoting health, wellness and inner peace among my brothers and sisters overseas become more and more important,” Loomis said.
“We’re beyond excited to do as many meet and greets as possible, camps, clinics, exhibitions, serving contests for prizes, while bringing a little California lifestyle, laughs, smiles and sand throws to our troops.
“Thanks to the AVP, Hyperice, Hydroflask, and Wilson volleyball for supporting our adventure and for donating giveaways to our military men.”
The pros played in exhibition games and even worked out with the troops.
Collegiate Beach Clash: Rally Volleyball in Emerson, Georgia, hosted the Collegiate Beach Clash as LSU, Georgia State, South Carolina, and UAB competed in the last fall event.
A modified round-robin format allowed teams to compete against each other in similar flights throughout the day. The match format was two sets to 21 with no tiebreakers. Although there was no match play per se, team winners were awarded based on win/loss percentage.
Georgia State came out on top with a 41-23 (64 percent) winning percentage, followed by LSU at 35-29 (54.7). Southern Carolina finished third with a 36-36 (50.0) record, followed by UAB at 4-28 (12.5).
Georgia State head coach Beth Van Fleet enjoyed the competition.
“For us, we’ve been working on a lot of different defenses and offensive systems, so it gives us a great opportunity for some of our more experienced players to compete against more experienced players as opposed to continually playing against everyone in our lineup, where all of the tendencies are known,” Van Fleet said.
“It’s great to be across the net from some new faces. Every year, every program makes massive gains, giant steps forward, and it’s so much fun because we keep pushing each other to get better and grow to find new creative ways to come up with plays, so this year did not disappoint in that regard, it was a lot of competition and a lot of fun for the girls to be able to compete and sleep in their own beds.
“We got to play in all sorts of conditions, it was really foggy at one point, it rained for a few minutes, and it was sunny the rest of the day, it was neat to be able to play in all sorts of different elements throughout the day in one tournament.”
USC, UCLA, Arizona at Grand Canyon: Pac-12 beach volleyball powers USC, UCLA, and Arizona went to Grand Canyon and the host team finished 2-1 after beating UCLA 4-1 and Arizona 4-2, but losing to USC 5-1.
“It was really good to play the final fall tournament of the fall season,” Grand Canyon coach Kristen Batt-Rohr said. “This was our first tournament we have hosted in the fall and it was great to get solid competition here on campus. I think the girls played really well against all three teams and really fought against USC.”
“I am really impressed with how the team has gotten better as the fall progresses. I am excited to see the steps we take once the season starts and progresses in the spring.”
GCU’s lone pair with a win against USC was Madi Relaz and Jessica Stanfield. They also got a win against UCLA. Kelli Iverson and Taylor Jarzombek had wins against UCLA and Arizona and so did Bella Bauman and Emily Reinking.
Roberto Rodriguez-Bertran new Viper director: Viper, a Temecula, Calif.-based club, also features AVP pros Kevin McColloch and Ali McColloch. Rodriguez-Bertran’s best finish this year was third in Hermosa Beach with Piotr Marciniak.
A special moment: Christopher Mcdonald and Amanda Alles announced on social media last week that they got engaged in Hawai’i. Mcdonald competed in five events this year, with three 29th-place finishes, while Alles competed in four events, with two 29th-place finishes.