Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross did something very special this year. They were perfect. But well get back to their season in a moment. First, let me apologize for not getting my Huntington Beach Championships recap to you sooner. Ive been putting it off, knowing that once I wrote this, it would signify that the 2014 AVP season was really over. I know most of the country has already started to feel the fall weather, maybe even hints of winter, but here in California were still wearing shorts and t-shirts, even after the sun goes down. So it doesnt feel like summer is over to me.
Dusty Avol and I were really getting into our groove these last few tournaments together. When the fans are on the same page as the MC and DJ, it’s an amazing feeling. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you are at it. That goes for the AVP too. With Donald Sun’s first season behind him, this season seemed to take that next step in regards to fan turnout and public awareness of the tour. The AVP staff had one year of knowledge under its belt and could really focus on fine-tuning the experience for the fans and players. Everyone can find something to complain about, but let’s put it into perspective for a moment. Professional beach volleyball was DEAD in 2010. Four years later, the AVP is alive and putting on great tournaments for the fans. Are things perfect? Of course not. Should we expect them to be perfect right now? Absolutely not. The AVP, from this DJs perspective, is in a good spot and if things keep going well well be in a great spot in the near future.
Especially if the future of the tour looks anything like the Huntington Beach event. Fridays, especially after Labor Day, are notorious for not having that big of crowds. Maybe it was because it was the last tournament of the season, or that we were in California, but the fans came out in droves on Friday. And not just late in the afternoon, but all day. Regardless what day or time the fans arrived at the event, they were treated to some great matches. All the players players had an extra gear in their game this tournament. Being the last event for a lot of players there was nothing to save energy for and everyone could lay it on the line all tournament long. Out of 58 matches, 22 went to three, whereas in Atlantic City only 18 went three. A difference of four may not seem like much, but when it’s only a sixteen team main draw, that’s plenty of extra volleyball.
Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson finished the season strong winning four out of seven AVP events. Im sure this win was special as Huntington Beach is where they train and Casey, allegedly, can bounce a ball off the sand onto the pier (though I still have yet to see actual proof of this). History was also made by Kerri and April going a perfect seven for seven on tour. It may have seemed easy, but Kerri and April will be the first to tell you that nothing is easy or given to you on the court. They had to earn this perfect season, which gave April 41 and Kerri 124 career victories. April is closing in on being in the top ten and Kerri is currently the third winningest player of all time behind a couple guys named Sinjin and Karch. Not bad company to be in.
Kerri and April will have their work cut out for them next year as there are some ladies whose names you need to remember. Emily Day and Summer Ross, of course, but some young athletes by the name of Lane Carico and Amanda Dowdy really showed the tour something this year. On the men’s side, Jeremy Casebeer and Trevor Crabb will be looking to build on a solid 2014 season.
As I reflect on the Huntington Beach tournament, I realized what a long weekend it was for me. Not only did I work the AVP Next Championships on Thursday, along with the AVP main draw Friday through Sunday, I had two additional DJ gigs Thursday and Saturday evenings. DJing that many hours in four days is not an issue for me, but I wasnt able to really hang with my friends, players, and AVP staff as much as I normally would during a tournament. This meant I didnt get a chance to tell the staff, crew, and players how much I appreciate them and what they do for the sport. They all help make my job easy and I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get paid to play music and watch volleyball. Two of the things I enjoy most in life. I dont take it for granted as I know the end of each season could be my last (Im not saying this was my last season, just that I know my reign as the AVP tour DJ will come to an end someday). I love this sport and Im privileged to be a small part of it. Im excited to see what the future holds for the AVP, and Im excited for the fans as you will continue to witness some of the best athletes in the world up close and personal.