Video chat with DJ Roueche, big matches ahead, the AVP awards

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When you scroll down, you’ll find not only the AVP news release on its postseason award winners, but our interview with Jeremy “DJ” Roueche, who was honored for his 12 years of keeping the tournaments rocking and rolling all day long. It was really fun to interview one of the most interesting people in our sport and someone recognized not for playing but for all does.

But first, this is such a huge weekend in NCAA women’s college volleyball, with some big-time matches on tap.

There are 99 matches tonight, 100 more Saturday and 53 on Sunday. All the scores and schedules are listed at: https://www.ncaa.com/scoreboard/volleyball-women/d1

Here are few worth noting for tonight:

Two big ones in the ACC, No. 15 Florida State at Pitt and No. 23 Louisville at North Carolina.

In the Big Ten, No. 17 Purdue goes to 12th-ranked Wisconsin and No. 11 Ohio State goes to No. 3 Penn State just a few days after getting swept by the Nittany Lions in Columbus.

In the Pac-12, the match of the night is No. 1 USC at No. 5 Washington, while No. 19 Arizona is at 7th-ranked Stanford,

In the SEC, Texas A&M goes to No. 20 Kentucky in a key league match.

And in a match not in the power-five conferences but certainly with national implications, No. 24 San Diego plays at No. 16 BYU with the West Coast Conference still up for grabs.

USA stars: Where they are

This is a fantastic collection of information on our top women players who are with their respective pro teams. Kudos to Bill Kauffman of USA Volleyball for compiling the list and doing all the legwork for the story. Click here to check it out.

DVB follow-ups: Alaska-Anchorage, Juanita, Saint Louis

We did stories earlier this season on Alaska-Anchorage, Juanita and Saint Louis.

Here’s where they stand now:

UAA is ranked No. 11 in AVCA Division II and stands 18-2 overall, 10-2 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Seawolves have won three in a row after losing two of three and play at St. Martin’s and Seattle Pacific this weekend. Western Washington, Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene all have two losses, so the GNAC race is going down to the wire.

Juanita is now 27-1, is done with its home season, and remains No. 1 in the AVCA Division III poll. Juanita goes to Atlanta this weekend for matches with Berry, No. 2 Emory and Washington and Lee.

And Saint Louis has hit a bump, losing two of three. The Billikens (18-7, 7-2 in the Atlantic 10), go to Fordham and Rhode Island this weekend to wrap up their road schedule. They finish the regular-season with three home matches before the A-10 tournament.

AVP Year-End Winners

As mentioned above, the AVP announced its postseason awards. Before reading about it, watch first our interview with Jeremy “DJ” Roueche, who has a great story to tell about how he got into being a DJ, what it’s like with the tour, and other things he has going on:

Here is the AVP release:

The AVP enjoyed another successful year as the tour continued to flourish in its third full year under the leadership of Donald Sun. The enhanced seven-event 2015 tour schedule reached the nation’s largest markets and beach volleyball hotbeds, including the AVP’s first-ever event in Manhattan (N.Y.) and its long-awaited returns to New Orleans, Seattle and Chicago. The AVP increased its partnership revenue, and hundreds of thousands of fans were entertained across the nation with the dynamic competition on the sand, yielding impressive TV ratings on NBC and NBC Sports Network.

With its end-of-season awards, the AVP honors the beach volleyball veterans and newcomers that have helped elevate the level of competition enjoyed by fans across the country in 2015.

The year-end honors were awarded based on statistics, player votes and points earned during the 2015 tour season. Ten players were nominated in the categories of best defensive player, best blocker and best server, based on statistics (blocks, digs and aces recorded per set, with a minimum of 30 sets played to qualify for the category), with the winner being chosen by votes cast by active AVP players. Similarly, the top 10 offensive players were nominated based on hitting percentage (with a minimum of 600 attacks to qualify), with the winner also being selected by AVP players. Five men’s players and nine women’s players were nominated for newcomer of the year honors, based on the criteria that they must have been ranked among the top 32 players in their gender at the end of the 2015 season and must have played in less than half of the previous season’s main draws.

Winners in the categories of most valuable player and most improved player were selected by AVP athletes through a write-in ballot. Teams were nominated in the category of team of the year based on tournament wins and overall points earned in 2015, with the winner being selected in a vote cast by the AVP players.

The AVP also honored the Tour’s official DJ, Jeremy “DJ Roueche” Roueche, with the AVP’s Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to the tour over the past 12 years.

More information on the AVP’s 2015 award winners is below:

Best blockerPhil Dalhausser

Known for his dominant presence at the net, Dahlausser was named best blocker on tour for the third time in his career – he previously won the award in 2008 and 2009. The beach volleyball veteran regularly turned away opponents at the net, registering 91 blocks in 43 games, the best average on tour at 2.12 blocks/game.

Best blockerJenny Kropp

Kropp returned to the AVP Tour at the top of her game after a two-year hiatus following the birth of twins. The most imposing player on the women’s side at the net, Kropp had 110 blocks in 84 games to record a tour-best 1.31 average. Also a noteworthy achievement, Kropp entered all seven AVP tour events in 2015, winning her way into four finals and earning her first career AVP tournament title after eight years on tour, at the AVP Kingston Chicago Open.

Best server: Robbie Page

Page made an indelible impression on the competition in his first full season on Tour, serving 66

aces in just 64 games and topping all men with a 1.06 aces/game average.

Best server: April Ross

Ross collected the award for a second straight year, and the third time in her career. She totaled 76 aces on the season, eight more than the next player, despite playing 10 less games. Ross averaged 1.41 aces/game, best among the women on the Tour.

Best defender: John Mayer

Mayer’s defensive skills helped his team to four finals appearances, six semi-finals and a tournament title in Seattle in 2015. Mayer made an impressive 387 digs – the most on tour in 2015 – in 82 games.

Best defender: Kendra Van Zwieten

Digging her opponents 484 times during the course of the season. Van Zwieten’s 6.37 digs/game was good for second among AVP women, behind Lane Carico. Notably, Van Zwieten finished no worse than fifth in her six tournaments entered in 2015, and registered an AVP career best second-place finish in Chicago.

Best offensive player: Ryan Doherty

The tallest player on tour used all 7’1” of his frame to dominate at the net as the AVP’s best offensive player. Recording 511 kills, with just 99 errors in 817 attacks, Doherty was the best among all players on tour, men and women, with a .504 percentage. His dominance at the net helped the former pro baseball player to his first-ever AVP title in Seattle.

Best offensive player: Nicole Branagh

The AVP veteran and Olympian returned to peak form in 2015, earning the best offensive player accolades for a second time in her career, last in 2009. Branagh proved to be lethal at the net, recording the most kills among all women with 529 kills in 955 attacks with just 108 errors to record a .441 hitting percentage.

Most improved player: Billy Kolinske

Kolinske upped his game in his third full season on tour, being honored by his peers as the most improved men’s player on tour.  The Wisconsin native was tied for first on the men’s side with Ryan Doherty, recording 131 blocks and ranking sixth in hitting percentage (.398) with 533 kills in 944 attacks. Alongside new teammate Casey Jennings, Kolinske appeared in all seven main draw tournaments, finishing no worse than ninth and earning two semifinal berths, his best career finishes.

Most improved: Kendra Van Zwieten

Van Zwieten has been recognized for her efficiency patrolling the court as a defensive specialist during the 2015 tour, but her well-rounded game has helped her emerge among the top all around players in the sport. Van Zwieten has played on tour since 2006, but until 2015 she never finished higher than seventh. In 2015 Van Zwieten helped herself to a fifth, four thirds and a career-best second place finish.

Newcomer of the year: Taylor Crabb

Crabb follows in teammate and big brother Trevor’s footsteps nabbing Newcomer of the Year honors following a successful rookie campaign in 2015. Despite a relatively slow start to the year, Taylor Crabb emerged as a standout player after teaming up with Trevor for the final five events on tour, earning two semifinal berths including an impressive run to the finals of the AVP Manhattan Beach Open presented by Acer. Taylor topped the men’s side with his efficiency on defense, making 313 digs in 58 games for a 5.40 average, the best amongst all men on Tour.

Newcomer: Betsi Metter Flint

Metter Flint impressed in her first full-time season on Tour, starting the season entering qualifying tournaments and earning her way to being one half of the fifth-ranked team on tour in less than a year. Metter Flint proved to be very effective behind teammate Kelley Larsen, making 269 digs in 49 games, but it was at the service line where she truly impressed.

Betsy Metter Flint
Betsy Metter Flint

Metter Flint ranked third among all women on Tour with a 0.93 aces/game average. Also notable, Metter Flint and Larsen became the youngest team to win an AVP tournament when they claimed the AVP Kingston Cincinnati Open title over Labor Day weekend. It was the first career AVP tournament victory for both players.

Most valuable player: John Mayer

The AVP’s best defensive player is also the Tour’s MVP, taking home the top individual honor for the first time in his career. One of the most well rounded players on Tour, Mayer delivered 43 aces, 387 digs, and 476 kills in 82 games.

Most valuable player: April Ross

Ross has collected the top individual honor for the third straight season. The Olympic silver medalist has won 11 of the 12 AVP events she has played over the past two seasons, earning four of those victories in 2015 with three different teammates – a record for women on the AVP tour. The best server on tour is also among the top players on defense, ranking third in digs with 331 (.611 average).

Team of the year: John Hyden and Tri Bourne

Since teaming up in 2013, Hyden and Bourne have been exclusive partners on the AVP tour, enjoying their most successful year in 2015. They won two tournaments and finished no lower than third in the four tournaments they entered this year, winning 37 of 51 games played in 2015. This marks the first time in either player’s career they have won multiple AVP titles in a single season. At 42 years and 11 months, Hyden became the second oldest male player in AVP history to win a tournament when he won back to back events in Cincinnati and Huntington Beach.

Team of the year: Nicole Branagh and Jenny Kropp

Nicole Branagh, Jenny Kropp
Nicole Branagh, Jenny Kropp

AVP veterans Branagh and Kropp teamed up for the first time in 2015 after spending years on opposite sides of the net. The Tour’s best offensive player and best blocker combined to be the most impressive team on the women’s side, earning four finals berths and finishing no lower than ninth in 2015. For Kropp, it is her first-ever AVP Team of the Year award, and it marks the second time Branagh has won – she also won in 2009 with Elaine Youngs.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Jeremy “DJ Roueche” Roueche

A fixture at AVP events since 2003, DJ Roueche has entertained beach volleyball fans nationwide with his unique mix of music and style. Providing the perfect soundtrack for AVP events from his personally curated and often originally produced music, Roueche has delivered countless hours of entertainment at AVP events and has been credited by the Tour’s fans and players as being a catalyst of the tour’s ongoing success. In addition to the AVP, Roueche’s talents have been retained for parties by music’s biggest names like Dr. Dre and Gwen Stefani, the nation’s biggest sports franchises including the Los Angeles Clippers and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the hottest Vegas pool parties. The AVP is grateful to Jeremy for his dedication to the growth of the sport, his countless contributions over the years and the continued support of the Tour in the coming years.

The 2015 season

The AVP’s 2015 schedule included seven tournaments in different regions of the U.S., from New York to Southern California. In its fourth year under the guidance of AVP Managing Partner Donald Sun, who purchased the tour in 2012, the AVP expanded its property to include tour stops last season, in New Orleans (May 21-24), New York (July 16-19), Seattle (Aug. 6-9),  Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Aug. 13-16); Chicago (Aug. 27-30); Cincinnati (Sept. 3-6); and Huntington Beach, Calif. (Sept. 10-13). The AVP also hosted and operated an Olympic qualifying tournament on the FIVB World Tour in St. Petersburg, Fla. in June.

Information on the AVP Tour’s 2016 schedule is expected to be released early in 2016. Photos courtesy of AVP/Robert Beck.

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