Beach Bytes: Epic Texas fours tourney, Grass Nationals, Sicoli’s new program

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Katie Spieler-Chaim Schalk-Sarah Sponcil-Stafford Slick
Katie Spieler, Chaim Schalk, Sarah Sponcil, and Stafford Slick

A few weeks ago, Corinne Quiggle posted on Instagram, wondering, in her caption, if it was still season, or off-season.

The correct answer was: Fours season.

Since the AVP’s Champions Cup series came to a close in early August, players have taken to training via amicable yet competitive games: King and Queen of the Beach formats, co-ed, four on four.

This past weekend, the Sand Wannabes, a rowdy beach volleyball crew in Texas, partnered with SharpeVision Modern Lasik to host the inaugural SVML 4-Man. In a year mostly devoid of big events, the $12,000 purse — $8,000 to the winners — and fun format attracted some of the biggest names in the country. The finals, for example, included Team No Scrubs: Stafford Slick, Chaim Schalk, Katie Spieler, Sarah Sponcil; and a team of an undetermined name: Geena Urango, Karissa Cook, Eric Beranek, Andy Benesh.

Other notables making the trip to Tiger Beach in Seguin, an eight-court facility around 40 minutes outside Austin included: old school legend Adam Johnson, Kim Hildreth, Ed Ratledge, David Lee, Bruno Amorim, Iya Lindahl, Chase Frishman, Paul Lotman, Angela Bensend, and Texans Pete Connole and Steve Roschitz.

“Having a super sponsor the level of SharpeVision Modern Lasik enabled the Sand Wannabes to go bigger than ever before with an unprecedented $12K purse,” LJ Luciano, a leader of the Sand Wannabes, said. “Most of the best local talent also played, creating an it factor we hope to continue in the area for years to come.”

Katie Spieler-Chaim Schalk-Sarah Sponcil-Stafford Slick
Katie Spieler, Chaim Schalk, Sarah Sponcil, and Stafford Slick

AVP America Grass Nationals — Fours isn’t the only different format with some decent prize money in this early fall season. This weekend, AVP America is hosting Grass Nationals, boasting a $21,000 prize purse and loads of teams from all divisions.

The tournament is in Greenville, South Carolina. Click here for more information.

Like the Texas fours tournament, there will be a decent field in the open division.

Highlighting the women’s field is Delaney Mewhirter and Katie Spieler; the Pepperdine-UCLA team of Waupaca grass champ Carly Skjodt and Zana Muno; Florida State’s Sara Putt and AVP professional Sarah Schermerhorn; and Athlete’s Uncensored host Victoria Dennis and former USC player Jo Kremer.

The men, meanwhile, feature Benesh and Beranek; grass extraordinaire Andrew Dentler and Chris Vaughan; Jon Ferrari and JM Plummer; David Evans and Matthew Elias; as well as a lot of lower seeded upset alerts in Evan Cory, Marc Fornaciari, Kam Beans, Will Rodriguez, TJ Jurko, and Chris Long and Austin Rester.

Friday and Saturday’s play are doubles, while Sunday features the Waupaca format of three on three.

“Me and Kates have never had a bad grass experience,” Mewhirter said. “So with limited beach options this year, we didn’t want to miss this one.”

Waupaca Boatride volleyball 7/12/2020-Delaney Mewhirter-Katie Spieler-Carly Skjodt
From left, Delaney Mewhirter, Katie Spieler, and Carly Skjoddt celebrate their repeat Waupaca win/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Marcio Sicoli’s Beach U — Little to nothing has happened in the college beach volleyball world this year. Not that Marcio Sicoli has an abundance of downtime, even without having a full season as the head coach of the Pepperdine Waves — he is a father of three young boys, including an infant, Miller — but he still found a way to fill his time with beach volleyball.

Last week, Sicoli, a three-time Olympic medalist as a coach, launched a new beach program for high school and middle school beach volleyball players. He dubbed it Beach U, short for Beach University, which is designed to mimic the routines and rhythms of a college beach program to best prepare athletes for the next step.

“We are an organization dedicated to preparing junior beach volleyball players to adjust to the college level,” said Sicoli, who coached Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May, as well as Walsh Jennings and April Ross and, briefly, Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat. “Everything we do, from the drills to the practice blocks and times, mimics that of a college beach team. The athlete will be prepared not only for the jump in competition at the collegiate level, but also the schedule, practice style, and rhythm of the season.

“We are a college prep program, and athletes are welcome, even encouraged, to compete for local clubs in the area. We are, simply, an academy-style training group that will best prepare the athlete for the next level, maximizing their talents and helping them to tap into their full potential.”

Beach U’s second session begins October 6 and will run through October 15. The winter session, sponsored by Asics, will run from November 3-December 17.

Marcio Sicoli-Pepperdine-Waves-NCAA beach-volleyball
Brazilian Marcio Sicoli starts up Beach U to help high school prospects prepare for the college level/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

 

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