We’re headed into the first tournament of AVP’s 40th Anniversary season, and there’s a lot to be excited about.
First – beach volleyball is back! With some of the best teams in the world playing in the Miami Beach Open, fans on the sand and at home can expect intense competition from their favorite athletes in a beautiful setting.
On the Women’s side, 2022 Chicago Gold Series runners-up Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes are the #1 seed. This Canadian duo promises a lot of potential, both on our beach and worldwide. This newer duo has both played on the AVP with different partners over the last few years, but AVP fans are stoked to see these Olympians pair up for the 2023 season and beyond.
Coming in at #2, Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon are one of the only returning partnerships heading into Olympic Qualification. Existing team chemistry is huge; these two know each other well both on and off the court. And while they only won one event in 2023 (like five other teams), they made four Semifinals. Guaranteed, they’re looking for more hardware this year.
Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles are an exciting new partnership. Flint has been a staple on the AVP since her debut win in 2015; Scoles earned Rookie of the Year in 2022, proving a force to be reckoned with. Not only did Scoles and Geena Urango win in Atlanta, but they also made the Ft. Lauderdale Finals and Hermosa Semis. Flint and Scoles earned 2nd place in their first international Elite tournament together, an impressive feat in their initial outing.
Carly Skjodt and Urango are pairing up after a year apart, two technically sound players with lethal precision. Lili and Larissa, Florida natives, are sure to bring the fun and the fans to Miami Beach. And rounding out the top 6 – Carly Kan and Jennifer Keddy, the reigning AVP Champs after their Cinderella victory in Central Florida, are partnering back up to see if they have more magic in their story.
The Men have some exciting new teams playing in Miami. But first – Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander – the reigning 2022 AVP Championships Champs. With Crabb’s reliable brilliance in the backcourt and Sander’s absolutely insane athleticism, the Taylors are set to have another incredible year on the AVP. Crabb was named Best Defender of the year, while Sander took Rookie and Best Server – decent accolades.
The #2 seed is a fun new team with two beloved players – Phil Dalhausser and Troy Field. Dalhausser impressively won three events in 2022 with three different partners. What’s more, each time was the first time he’d played with that partner. So, if the pattern continues, Dalhausser will make history (once again), and Field will get his first AVP title.
Sitting at #3, Chase Budinger and Miles Evans will make their team debut in Miami. Evans switched partners a few times in 2022, playing with four different guys but finishing in the Top 10 in almost every event. I’m sure he’s feeling settled with a steady partner, especially one as dominant and Budinger
The #4 seed is a familiar duo, but this will likely be their swan song. Andy Benesh and Billy Allen are back together after a season apart. Allen picked up the relatively unknown entity Benesh in 2021 and helped him establish a name on Tour. Benesh is now considered one of USA’s best up-and-coming talents, and he’s partnered with fellow promising young athlete and 2022 Most Improved Miles Partain for the rest of the season.
Returning partnerships Tim Brewster/Kyle Friend and Dave Palm/Rafu Rodriguez round out the top 6, bringing valuable team chemistry and shared experience to the Miami Beach Open.
As an FIU Panther and former Miami local, I am biased toward this added AVP stop. But I do have solid evidence to back up my excitement. This site is SICK – a huge Stadium Court right on the sand in the heart of South Beach. The beaches of Miami are so gorgeous, with turquoise warm water and powdery sand. I can’t wait to be there.
The AVP venue is right along the main drag of Miami Beach, with endless restaurants, bars, boutiques, and hotels – everything the culture-rich city is known for. Just a few blocks north of the site, you’ll find Lincoln Road – a world-famous pedestrian-only street packed with things to buy, people to see, and food. So much good food.
March in Miami has always been fun, but now Miami Beach Live! is bringing the community together with live entertainment, family fun, and a fitness-centric approach. It’s an entire month of fun, sun, and sweat – with the AVP as the marquee event.
For anyone who can’t make it, we’ve got you covered. The AVP is BACK on ESPN for the first time in a long time, and I am stoked! Airing on ESPN is every athlete’s dream, and now it’s a reality for AVP players. Download the ESPN app and subscribe to ESPN+ to watch Stadium Court this weekend and all year long.
In addition to ESPN, 2023 is bringing access to all the outer courts – for free. AVP’s parent company Bally’s just released their new watch and earn app – Bally Live. Miami Beach Court 1 will stream all weekend via their revolutionary sports-watching app (learn more here). Moving forward, Bally Live will stream Courts 1 and 2 – which means our fans, whether at home or in Stadium Court – will have access to all three AVP courts for the rest of the season.
We’re so excited for this 40th Anniversary season; it’s our honor to carry on the legacy of the beach volleyball giants who came before us. To mark this milestone year, the AVP is also dedicating itself to enhancing female representation in sports. As girls flock in droves to play volleyball in the gym and on the sand, the AVP has a significant opportunity (perhaps even obligation) to tip the scales of female athletic representation in professional sports. To promote this much-needed equity, we are putting women first.
The 40th Anniversary season is going to be one of our best yet. Get ready for world-class competition on the sand, the athletes you know and love, and a few new faces! Expect epic archival content, fan polls, throwbacks, and more to celebrate our 40th Anniversary.
See you in South Beach!