One of the great stories that emerged last spring and summer in beach volleyball was the success of what came to be known as Team TexMex, the combo of Geena Urango and Angela Bensend.
Urango, a product of USC, and Bensend, who played at LSU, got off to a great start in the first AVP event in New Orleans, playing with a style and personality embraced by fans.
Urango, from Los Alamitos, Calif., is half Mexican on her father’s side, while Bensend is from the Dallas suburb of Plano. They met in California when Bensend moved there, teamed up in 2014, and practice together usually in either Redondo Beach or Huntington Beach.
We asked them to write a piece for DestinationVolleyball.com about what the past year was like and how things are going headed into the 2016 season.
By Geena Urango and Angela Bensend
We’ll start with the AVP in New Orleans in May of 2015.
After 17 years the AVP was back in New Orleans, and what a crazy first stop it was! The weather, torrential rains on Thursday, was unexpected. The courts were at a point of being unplayable, and the tournament was shortened by a day, which meant more matches per day. What a job the crew did to get the courts ready and make it happen. And we took full advantage; Team TexMex made it to our first-ever AVP semifinals. But that wasn’t enough!
We played plenty in between, but our next big moment was in Cincinnati in early September.
As we walked into the Lindner Tennis center in Cincinnati, we knew the 2015 AVP season was coming close to an end, but there was still business to take care of. We fought our way through the contender’s bracket to make it into our first-ever finals appearance!
Everything we had been training for came down to this very moment. All of the hard work, the hundreds upon thousands of reps at practice was in preparation for this. The shot at our first AVP title. As we walked out onto the main court, reality set in. This was it, this was our moment.
We split the first two sets with Betsi Metter Flint and Kelley Larsen and it all came down to a best-of-three, a final set. We dig ourselves into an early hole, and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t overcome, but we fought to the last point. We lost 13-21, 18-21, 7-15 in a match that took an hour, 2 minutes.
Fast forward to Huntington Beach this past January.
The first practice of a new season often brings a lot of questions.
“Didn’t the last season just end?”
“Why aren’t I jumping as high?”
“How is it possible to be this sore?!”
Frustrating at times, but on the contrary, very motivating as well.
We entered this new season with a different mindset. How is Team TexMex going to make this season better than the last? We had two of our best performances ever last season with a third-place finish at AVP New Orleans and a second-place finish at AVP Cincinnati.
Team TexMex was on the map! But that wasn’t enough. We couldn’t be satisfied with that.
We Want More.
New goals had to be set.
We came into preseason training harder than we ever have before. Five practices a week, workouts in the weight room, PT & Cryo sessions to rebuild our bodies, goal-setting meetings between each other and with our coach, video analysis.
All of these action items, if done to the best of our ability, should culminate in an expectation of success. But isn’t that what every team on the tour is looking for? Success?
But what more could you want as a team? We asked ourselves this very question.
We wanted RESPECT.
As Aretha Franklin put it quite simply,
Find out what it means to me
Take care, TCB”
Respect to us means more than the word’s simple definition. We’re going into this season ready to TCB (take care of business). We’re going to work harder, we’re going to have more fun than we ever have before, and we’re going to fight for what we feel we deserve. When the 2016 season is finished, we want to look back and RESPECT what we have done.
Which brings us to New Orleans next week, the first AVP stop of the season April 14-17.
We can imagine it now:
Feeling the sand between our toes on stadium court brings back an all too familiar euphoria. The stands are packed. The sun is out. 2015 is fresh in our memory, and Team TexMex is ready!