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In the world of beach volleyball, finding a partner can feel like an extreme version of dating. Athletes are on a constant search to find that perfect match who not only helps bring home championships but makes them a better player overall. For many beach volleyball players, the postseason partner breakup and makeup cycle can closely mirror the dating experiences of their off-court lives.

When a new athlete moves to town or a partnership ends, the courting game begins. If you think someone might be your perfect match, it’s time to go on dates… and by dates, we mean invite them to practice. Being the player that you are (pun intended), you might practice with a few prospective partners in order to figure out who’s game is most compatible with yours. Then, it’s time for “the talk”. If you can survive this notorious relationship-ending step, you and your new teammate can start focusing on the real prize—AVP championship gold.

Now that all the scouting, first dates, & “what are we?” talks have passed, it’s time to meet the new teams and faces of the AVP Tour 2017 season.

 

Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb

Following the Rio Games, we saw one of Team USA’s most dynamic duos, Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson, make the difficult decision to decide to part ways. Jake will enter the 2017 season with up-and-coming AVP star Taylor Crabb, who was named AVP’s 2016 Defensive Player of the Year. A veteran teaming up with an up-and-coming star? It can be a gamble, but we can’t wait to see this one play out.

 

Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner

Following his post-Olympic split from Jake Gibb, Casey took his intensity and his dance moves to new partner Theo Brunner, who had been playing with Billy Allen most of last AVP season. This partnership showed its strength at the FIVB Fort Lauderdale Major earlier this year when the two beat the 2016 Rio Games gold medalists Alison/Bruno of Brazil.

 

Ryan Doherty and John Hyden

After his long-time partner Tri Bourne announced he was stepping away from beach volleyball this season due to health issues*, John Hyden found himself back on the partner hunt.. John has since teamed up with Ryan Doherty. These two also had a promising start in Fort Lauderdale with the FIVB, finishing fourth.

*The AVP wishes Tri a speedy recovery and will miss his 🔥 on the sand!

 

Jennifer Fopma and Kelly Reeves

Jennifer Fopma, who ended the 2016 AVP season with 2012 Silver Medalist Jen Kessy, has found a new partnership in Kelly Reeves. Kelly was named 2016’s AVP Newcomer of the Year and is a strong, fiery athlete who is ready to compete.

 

Nicole Branagh and Xi Zhang

2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh took last AVP season off because she gave birth to her second child, William Daley (congrats Nicole and Jennifer!). This year, she’s back and ready to bring the 🔥.  Nicole has 17 AVP championships under her belt and has teamed up with two-time Chinese Olympian Xi Zhang, who competed in two AVP events last season.

 

Kendra VanZwieten and Karolina Marciniak

2016 AVP New Orleans Champion Kendra VanZwieten split from partner Kim DiCello (who is now playing with Emily Stockman), and has grabbed Karolina Marciniak. Karolina was representing Poland on the FIVB tour and was playing on the NVL circuit for the past four years, so this weekend’s Huntington Beach open will be her first AVP event since 2012.

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