AVP New Orleans Open Qualifiers Teams
Twenty-eight women’s teams are competing for four main draw slots on Thursday, April 14. The top eight teams, according to points, are as follows:
Q1. Julie Kolinske/Tiffany Marinos (new team for 2016): Last year was Kolinske’s first full year on the tour, and she finished a career-best ninth place in Chicago. This year she partners with Marinos, the former Fresno Pacific star (career-best: 13th). This team should qualify thanks to strong blocking, solid skills, and plenty of firepower.
Q2: Meg Dawson/Jessica Sykora (new team for 2016): On paper, this team has great potential. At 63, Sykora is an intimidating blocker, while lefty Dawson has speed and hustle. Look for this team to score points in bunches.
Q3: Kyra Lancon/Lindsey Shepard (new team for 2016): Lancon and Shepard hail from Texas; Lancon was an outside hitter at LSU and a dynamic 6’0″ offensive player. This is Shepard’s first AVP event.
Q4: Aurora Davis/Traci Weamer (new team for 2016): Davis, an alumni of the FSU sand program, boasts a personal-best AVP tour finish of ninth (which she’s accomplished three times). Weamer is a powerful 6’0″ player whose best finish is a fifth in Salt Lake City in 2014; however, Weamer only played one event in 2015. This team has skill and experience on their side.
Q5: Michelle Iafigliola/Carol Welcher (new team for 2016): Iafigliola is a skilled player and reads well; Welcher is an athletic 6’2″ lefty blocker. Both women boast a career-best finish of 13th, and this team will be tough to take down in the qualifier.
Q6: Taylor Nutterfield/Courtney Trevino: Nutterfield and Trevino are based in Austin, Texas. Their best finish together is 21st.
Q7: Erika Rodriguez/Claire Smalzer (new team for 2016): Rodriguez and Smalzer are another Austin-based duo. Rodriguez’s best finish is a 17th at St. Petersburg in 2014; this is Smazler’s first AVP event.
Q8: Diana Gordon/Brandi Tenlen: This Florida duo is playing in their second AVP tournament together, after finishing 25th in their first outing.
One of the most difficult things to do on the AVP tour is qualify. The single elimination format and the quality and depth of the competitors makes each qualification tournament unpredictable. Here are the top eight men’s qualifier teams, ranked by points. Only four of the 41 qualifier teams will advance to the Friday’s main draw.
Q1: Ty Loomis/Ed Ratledge (new team for 2016): Loomis and Ratledge are the elder statesmen of the qualifier. Loomis recently returned to the game after an extended absence in 2013 and 2014. Loomis is probably the only player in the qualifier to have won an AVP event (2009, Brooklyn). His credentials include a third place in last year’s Cincinnati Open as well. Ratledge is a dangerous southpaw on the right side. This team has the potential to not only qualify, but to do some damage in the main draw.
Q2: Marty Lorenz/Adam Roberts (new team for 2016): Lorenz, who boasts a career-best third place finish, is a force at the net. Roberts ball control and defense brought him a fifth-place finish in 2013. Look for this new team to do well if they work the kinks out.
Q3: Adam Cabbage/Alejandro Parra (new team for 2016): Cabbage is a solid defender with a heavy armswing, and his partner Parra is one of the most imposing physical presences at the net.
Q4: Shane Donohue/Jake Rosener: Donohue and Rosener played in three events in 2015, finishing 13th in Manhattan Beach. Donohue is a high flier, and Rosener has the potential to impose his will at the net.
Q5: Jonathan Rogers/Brian Tillman: This pair from Pompano Beach, Florida, holds a 25th-place finish from the 2015 Manhattan Beach Open. Tillman puts the A in athletiche’s an exciting player to watch!
Q6: Riley McKibbin/Ian Satterfield (new team for 2016): McKibbin, a former USC setter and professional indoor volleyball player, is kicking off the season with Satterfield, a former Long Beach outside hitter. Satterfield is relatively new to the beach game, so consistency could be a question mark for this duo.
Q7: Michael Brunsting/Chase Frishman: UCSD Triton indoor teammates Brunsting (opposite) and Frishman (libero) reunite in New Orleans. Lefty Brunsting’s best finish is a 13th at Huntington Beach in 2014; Frishman has never played on the AVP; however, he and Brunsting have done well at some lower-level events this year.
Q8: Mark Van Zwieten/Steve Van Zwieten: The Van Zwieten name should be familiar to avid fans of beach volleyball, as Mark married AVP New Orleans No. 1 seed Kendra Van Zwieten in 2009. Mark and Steve are relatively small at 6’1″ and 6’2″, respectively, but both brothers boast superb skills. If the weather conditions get challenging, like they did last year, look for these two to excel.