Best beach photos of 2017: VBM’s Ed Chan picks his top 10

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Thomas Ta-AVP-Manhattan Beach-MBO
Thomas Ta goes airborne for a dig in the AVP Manhattan Beach qualifier/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

VolleyballMag.com co-publisher and photo editor Ed Chan spent 46 days shooting beach volleyball in 2017 and clicked his camera shutters more than 100,000 times.

The long-time resident of San Diego gets plenty of chances to shoot beach volleyball, whether it’s FIVB, AVP, NVL, NCAA, CBVA, or the occasional juniors’ tournament.

Here are Ed’s top 10 from 2017:

Hagen Smith, NVL, WSOBV

No. 10: Hagen Smith, 7/13/2017 — Like father, like son. Hagen Smith, son of beach volleyball great Sinjin Smith, makes an acrobatic dig at NVL Long Beach.

Sara Hughes-AVP-Chicago

No. 9: Sara Hughes, 9/3/2017 — After a stellar NCAA career at USC, Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes graduated to the professional beach tour, making an immediate impact. Hughes and Claes have the potential to become one of the top teams in the world. Hughes is shown here after winning her first championship in AVP Chicago.

Maddison McKibbin, Ty Loomis-AVP-San Francisco

No. 8: Maddison McKibbin and Ty Loomis, 7/9/2017 — Maddison McKibbin and Ty Loomis should host a seminar on how to celebrate a victory. Their win in San Francisco (McKibbin’s first, Loomis’ first since 2009) was accompanied by a great deal of sand-throwing and rolling around in the sand, much to the delight of the fans and photographers. I left the venue 40 minutes after the match was over and they were still signing autographs and visiting with their fans.

Avery Bush-NVL-Long Beach

No. 7: Avery Bush, 7/13/2007 — In this play, Bush was running for the high line until it was tipped by partner Litara Keil, forcing Bush to alter directions and turn for the dig. It’s a nice variation on the digger-lays-out photo.

John Hamilton-Christian Honer-Mike Maghy-NVL-Long Beach

No. 6: Christian Honer, Mike Maghy, 7/13/2017 — The qualifier is the most interesting day of the tournament, in my opinion. It’s single-elimination, win-or-go-home for players who don’t have trainers or coaches, and rarely get any support from USA Volleyball. In many cases making the main draw is their dream and you can tell that it means something. In this shot, Honer and Maghy (center) are joined by a couple of friends as they celebrate.

Nick Lucena-AVP-Manhattan Beach Open-MBO

No. 5: Nick Lucena, 8/20/2017 — It’s difficult to understand how much of a toll beach volleyball takes on the body for those who haven’t played, especially in the deep sands of Hermosa or Manhattan Beach. Here Lucena cools himself off with a dousing of water during an especially hot AVP Manhattan Beach final.

J oKremer-USC-University of Southern California-Trojans-Merle Norman Stadium

No. 4: Jo Kremer, 4/22/2017 — If you haven’t attended a college beach-volleyball match, put one on your calendar for this year. It’s an entirely different dynamic as teams vie to score three wins in order to win for their school. Here USC’s Jo Kremer exults after Jenna Belton gets a block as the USC team supports them in the background.

Skylar Delsol-AVP-Manhattan Beach Open-MBO

No. 3: Skylar DelSol, 8/17/2017 — I normally shoot the far side of the court to capture the players’ expression and intensity. I very rarely back-shoot, as most athletic-flying-digger photos are ruined by a digger’s arms or ball obscuring their faces, but on the rare occasions such as that this that one succeeds, it creates an immediacy that I like.

Janis Smedins-Latvia-FIVB-Vienna-World Championships

No. 2: Janis Smedins, 8/3/2017 — It’s a joy to photograph beach volleyball because of the sand. It documents the athletes’ efforts and tells a story all by itself. Here Latvian Janis Smedins is ready to dig the cut shot, but it hits the tape, altering the timing, and Smedins is forced to circle back again to make the dig.

Taylor Crabb-AVP-Hermosa Beach

No. 1: Taylor Crabb, 7/23/2017 — Perhaps the light wasn’t that great on this cloudy day in Hermosa Beach, but this photo captures the tremendous athleticism of Taylor Crabb as well as the intensity of the moment. In my opinion, Crabb is one of the best diggers on the tour. In reviewing the year’s photos, Crabb was well represented in the top 25 with a number of stellar digs.

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