The hype is real, both at the Manhattan Beach Pier and here at my desk. We are just days away from the biggest, best, most significant tournament of the year. I can’t freakin’ wait.
The Manhattan Beach Open boasts double the teams, big prize money, and the coveted pier plaque for the two winning teams. But this year, the stakes are even higher. Finish well in MBO, and you have an even better chance to make the September AVP Championships in Phoenix.
The Road to the Phoenix Championships is decided by the best two of three Gold Series finishes. The top four teams in Atlanta have put themselves in a great position, but every other team is angling for their spot. No one is safe.
Let’s take a look at those finishes:
These teams have the best chance of anyone… so far.
The 2021 MBO winners Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb will have something to say about that. As the defending Champions in Manhattan, they’ll be extra hungry to assert their dominance. Especially coming off of their disappointing 9th place finish in Atlanta. They’re looking to totally erase Atlanta, both from their minds and from the score sheets, with two excellent finishes in Manhattan and Chicago.
A few points of interest:
Phil Dalhausser and Casey Patterson are not playing MBO together, but they will be back together in Chicago to get their second result towards qualifying for Phoenix. Interesting choice, but they’re confident in their 3rd-place finish and their potential for something equally good or better in Chicago.
Nick Lucena retired in Atlanta, so Andy Benesh will restart his Road to Phoenix with a new partner in Miles Evans. Gold Series finishes are based on teams, not individual players. So Andy’s finish with Nick is moot. Miles played Atlanta with Avery Drost, who is now paired up with Chase Frishman for the final two Gold Series events. They have some ground to cover, but we only take top two finishes anyway. All four athletes are in contention. Everyone is, for that matter.
Atlanta Champs Julia Scoles and Geena Urango are playing together in MBO, but not Chicago. Luckily for them, their 1st-place finish still all but guarantees they’ll be safe for Phoenix. As long as they don’t finish quickly in Manhattan, that is. Going into Chicago, they will still be either locked in or looking good for Phoenix. Especially because they won an event.
Points are weighed a bit heavier as the finishes improve. For instance – if your two best finishes are 1st and 7th, you would earn 4,117 points. If another team’s best finishes are 3rd and 5th, they accrue 3,986 points. So even though 1+7 = 3+5, the highest 1st place finish weighs more. In addition, 2nd and 7th end you with 4,001 points, which still beats a 3rd and 5th. We’re giving more credit to the top finishers, giving them a little extra oomph compared to two medium finishes. Something to consider as we watch everyone finish in MBO.
Side note: in the case of a tie, the team with the highest third event result from the Gold Series will receive the allocation.
Evan Cory and Bill Kolinske are also signed up for MBO but not Chicago. Their 3rd-place finish is looking pretty good, but they have to do well in Manhattan to put them in contention for Phoenix. No one is locked in yet because two outstanding tournaments leave it all in the air. But after this weekend, we’ll know a lot more.
Sarah Pavan looks like she’s just having some fun right now. She’s playing with Kenzie Ponnet in Manhattan, and then she and Tina Graudina are currently the #1-seed in Chicago. Interestingly, Sarah’s FIVB partner Melissa Humana-Paredes is signed up for Chicago with another Canadian in Brandie Wilkerson. Melissa and Brandie are just below Pavan and Graudina in the 2nd spot. Brandie is playing the first two Gold Series with Zana Muno, and their Atlanta 3rd puts them in a good spot for Phoenix. I have no idea what is happening or who is at the helm of these decisions. If anyone has tea, call me.
That’s enough about the Road to Phoenix; this weekend is all about Manhattan Beach.
We have a huge Stadium, three different VIP options, six feature courts, an overflow jumbotron, and a full-blown Thursday Qualifier. This is the MBO we know and love, but even better. I can’t wait to see the city rally, packing the stands at 9 am, staying til the last serve, sardining their way up and down the MB Pier.
As I mentioned, defending MBO Champs Tri and Trevor are sure to come out swinging, especially after their less-than-average 9th in Atlanta. Conversely, no current Women’s Teams have ever won an MBO. The only two women playing who have their name on the pier are Emily Day and Sarah Pavan. Everyone else is looking for that first win. Which means I guarantee we’ll see a new name up on the Manhattan Beach Pier.
One last thing – we have our Qualifier back! Sixty-four teams of each gender will storm the beaches on Thursday, looking for one of eight available spots. There’s ridiculous talent that comes out of these Qualifiers. You never know when the 32-seed may come out of nowhere and make waves.
Don’t miss out on all the Main Draw action starting early on Friday. We’ll stream Stadium and Court 1 on YouTube as usual. That means you really need to be on our beach to catch all the high-flying, hard-hitting madness that is the Manhattan Beach Open.
See you out there!