Editor’s note: Delaney Mewhirter is Travis Mewhirter’s wife. He also played in the tournament.
NIJMEGEN, Netherlands — Terese Cannon had never won a tournament before. Not a CBVA or AVPNext. Not an AVP or FIVB. She’d won a few smaller tournaments in high school, in her hometown of Rochester, where she played on the sands of Ontario Lake.
She isn’t so sure those count, though.
Her victory on Sunday counts. No doubt about that. Cannon and Delaney Mewhirter, playing in their first event together, won the FIVB Nijmegen one-star, defeating Germans Anna-Lena Grune and Sarah Schulz, 21-14, 18-21, 15-8 in the final on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s really exciting because this is the first tournament I’ve ever won, this is the first time Delaney has medaled, and it’s the first time we’ve ever played together,” Cannon said afterwards.
Theirs was a partnership put together as last minute as a partnership can get. The week prior, Cannon was in Cervia, Italy, picking up a silver medal with Molly Turner. Mewhirter was coaching at Pepperdine. While Cannon was blocking and playing left side with Turner, for the last two and a half years, Mewhirter has blocked while playing left.
With all of two practices — one hour on Wednesday, one hour Thursday — Mewhirter switched to right side and defense while the pair figured out the finer things of volleyball, like where to set one another.
“I don’t know anyone else who could do that,” Cannon said of Mewhirter’s position switching. “Honestly, it was impressive.”
Mewhirter considers herself, somewhat jokingly, somewhat not, “a jack of all trades and a master of none.” It was that very positionless skill-set that helped her win the USA Volleyball Queen of the Beach last October, winning matches as a blocker with Zana Muno and Carly Kan, finishing the tournament as a right side defender with Kelly Claes.
“It’s easy to do anything behind Terese’s block,” she said. “Coming back to defense is easy. It’s just like falling off a bike.”
Miles Evans, Troy Field sweep the field to win gold
Cannon and Mewhirter are not the only new partnership enjoying a honeymoon-phase type of success. Last week in Cervia, Miles Evans and Troy Field, playing in their second tournament together — they debuted in AVP Chicago and finished ninth — won silver, losing only in the finals to Italians Samuele Cottafava and Jakob Windisch.
In Nijmegen, again they blitzed their way through pool and to the finals, winning eight straight sets by an average of 21-13.8. They were the most dominant team in a field replete with world-class talent.
In the final, they met one of the hottest players in the world in Stefan Boermans, a 6-foot-8 gold medalist in Gstaad who won silver at the European Championships. Boermans’ usual partner, Yorick de Groot, played with Quinten Groenwald, leaving Boermans to pick up 19-year-old Sam van Der Loo. It’s common practice for host countries to split up their elite teams, pairing them up with young talent, both for experience and points.
In the convincing manner in which Field and Evans won the final, 21-17, 21-15, it’s a wonder what they could have done against Boermans and de Groot.
“It feels good to win but it doesn’t feel good to beat such great competitors, such good people off the court,” Field said. “Honestly, super super generous, kind, a great battle.”
Indeed, the second set was as streaky as it gets. Field and Evans took a commanding 9-4 lead before Boermans took over at the net. In a blink, that 9-4 lead was flipped into a 13-15 deficit.
Then came an epic 8-0 run that included three field blocks, half a dozen digs from Evans, and an ace from Evans to close off the final tournament of the season in style: With gold medals draped around their necks.
Winning bronze for the women was Switzerland’s Mara Betschart and Annik Stahli; for the men, bronze went to England’s Javier and Joaquin Bello, who recently won the English Championships.
The only other American women in the field, Kim Hildreth and Jessica Gaffney, finished fifth, falling to Betschart and Stahli. Travis Mewhirter and Tim Brewster lost in the final round of the qualifier to the Czech Republic’s Lukas Kittel and Frantisek Knobloch and finished 17th.