Never Gone

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Misty May

KENNER, La. Dont call it a comeback.

Misty May-Treanor says she never left.

Though May-Treanor retired from international beach volleyball following her third consecutive gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, she contends that she is not done with the sport.

I retired internationally, and I think everyone took that to the extent that I retired from the sport completely, May-Treanor said Friday at the AVP New Orleans, the kickoff event for the 2016 tour. She and teammate Jenny Kropp, seeded second, defeated qualifiers Bree Scarbrough and Brittany Tiegs 21-17, 21-13.

I think as an athlete, you dont have to say I retired because you can do it for enjoyment. If you do it from enjoyment, there is no retirement.

Since retiring from beach volleyball in 2012, May-Treanor’s priorities have shifted from champion athlete to that of motherhood.I dont want to travel overseas anymore, May-Treanor said. I want to start a family and be home. It’s for fun. It’s a hobby now, it’s not a job.

Even though fans will not see May-Treanor playing overseas anytime soon, the three-time Olympic gold medalist still wants to play the sport she dominated for nearly a decade.

It’s fun for me, May-Treanor said.

Fun is the primary reason May-Treanor has teamed with Jenny Kropp fNew Orleans, despite never playing with Kropp and barely playing against her.May-Treanor is the first to admit she is unable to prepare and put in the hours that made her an Olympic gold medalist, but embraces her role coming out of the beach volleyball bullpen.

If somebody needs somebody, Im not committing to train, May-Treanor said. Im a mom, priority No. 1, but this is fun.

Beach volleyball has evolved from occupation to hobby for May-Treanor, a decision that’s fine by her because she has a plan B.

As a young athlete I tell everyone to have a plan B because you never know how long your career will last, May-Treanor said. It’s OK to have more than one passion. Coaching is my passion, so that’s why I started the beach club. I still feel involved, but I think athletes drive themselves nuts if they dont have anything after.

Although May-Treanor shrugs off the notion of being a living legend among her peers on the AVP tour, she still emits the aura of a champion as she casually strolled around the Bayou State’s AVP venue Friday afternoon.

She’s the biggest beach volleyball star in Louisiana for sure, and young and old fans alike are quick to ask for pictures and autographs or just offer their adulation for an American volleyball icon who won an NCAA championship indoors at Long Beach State.

I miss the fans, May-Treanor said.

Sporting her signature headband, May-Treanor elicited the largest applause from the crowd of any player Friday, as many fans braved the elements to watch her in person.

Despite being a step slower than during her Olympian days, May-Treanor exudes the grit and tenacity of a wily veteran.

During hers and Kropp’s match against upstart duo Bree Scarbrough and Brittany Tiegs, May-Treanor started off slow in set one.

After shedding the rust, those in attendance were treated to glimpses of the former champion, as May-Treanor displayed great instincts and an arsenal of crafty moves en route to a 2-0 victory over Scarbrough and Tiegs.

May-Treanor scored the final two points to seal the opening round victory for the pair and, perhaps for an instant, fans were transported back to Athens, Beijing and London. Those in attendance witnessed a legend, on her last legs, but still having fun.

I can play the game at anytime for fun, May-Treanor said. I retired it from being a job.

Also Friday:

Top-seeded Ryan Doherty & John Mayer defeated qualifiers Skylar DelSol-Raffe Paulis 21-17, 21-19. Defending-champion, and No. 2 seed, Jake Gibb -Casey Patterson defeated qualifiers Adam Cabbage -Alejandro Parra 21-18, 21-17. Third-seeded Brad Keenan-Ty Tramblie advanced against qualifiers Marty Lorenz & Adam Roberts 21-19, 21-17. Brothers Taylor and Trevor Crabb defeated qualifiers Ty Loomis -Ed Ratledge 21-18, 19-21, 15-10.

Among women, top-seeded Kim DiCello-Kendra VanZwieten defeated 17-year old qualifiers Brook Bauer-Madison Fitzpatrick 21-14, 21-19. Third-seeded Amanda Dowdy -Emily Stockman advanced against qualifiers Aurora Davis -Traci Weamer 21-13, 21-12. LSU product and local favorite Angela Bensend and teammate Geena Urango defeated qualifiers Kristine Monforte & Traci Morin 21-15, 21-10.

Today, Bensend and Urango play at 9. At 10, former Olympic partners Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal (2008, 2012) are on opposite sides of the net. Also at 10, May-Treanor and Kropp face Lisa Fitzgerald and Lynne Galli.

And

Chilly, windy and rainy isnt ideal weather for beach volleyball in New Orleans, but 1,100 pounds of free crawfish for the crowd certainly helps make up for it Trevor and Taylor Crabb showed pure stoicism in the sand Friday. The Crabb brothers remained poised, defeating Loomis and Ratledge 2-1 in swirling winds

Brad Keenan was an absolute animal at the net. Decked in a white tank top and white hat, the 6-foot-8 monster resembled a giant polar bear in sunglasses, dominating his opposition Keenan’s partner Ty Tramblie plays as though he’s a foot taller than his 6-foot frame indicates. The pint-sized Tramblie seems to discover another gear when he elevates to spike. Springs in his shoes, indeed

Skylar Del Sol is a ruddy, redheaded tsunami of emotion. Del Sol was the most animated and vocal player in New Orleans Friday night. Del Sol and partner Raffe Paulis gave top-seeded Ryan Doherty and John Mayer a serious run, falling in straight sets 21-17 and 21-19

One member of the WannaBes unsuccessfully tried to start The Wave around 7:50 p.m. CST Friday night. He claimed it was only a warm-up for Sunday. As the WannaBes say, Wake up, dress up, show up. And everyone will again Saturday.

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