The AVP is back in SoCal. And when I say the AVP, I mean all of the AVP.
Almost all the top teams have registered for the Huntington Beach Open, which starts with a grueling Qualifier on Thursday, May 18. Some teams on both sides are playing their first event of the season, including 2022 MBO Champ Kelley Kolinske and her new partner, USC Champion and Ft. Lauderdale AVP winner Hailey Harward. Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft are back together after Kraft casually won a national championship with USC. Sarah Schermerhorn and Corinne Quiggle also return to the fray after missing the first two AVPs.
Those three elite teams, plus the slew of ladies who’ve been wowing us from Day 1, make up an insanely talented Main Draw. So much so that the first team in the Qualifier is the tried-and-true, often Main Draw staple team of Larissa and Lili. What’s more, in just their first round of the Qualifier, Larissa/Lili take on fellow Brazilian Maria Clara-Salgado and UCLA standout Lexy Denaburg. That early morning Thursday matchup is one we could easily have seen deep in the Main Draw.
Behind Larissa/Lili are a handful of teams who’ve also enjoyed many Main Draws. Kim Hildreth and Teegan Van Gunst, as the two seed, could face a formidable team in Megan Rice and Macy Jerger in the Game to Get In if they both make it there with no upsets. Brook Bauer and Katie Horton, who earned fifth place at March’s Miami Beach Open and then qualified for New Orleans, are the three seed and ready for their third Main Draw. Molly Turner has reunited with Maddie Anderson, a talented new kid on the block who earned second place at a fall FIVB with Turner. We even have AVP Champions Jenn Keddy and Carly Kan in the Qualifier mix.
On the Men’s side, Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner are back in town for the first time this year. They’re the #2 seed to their former partners’ #1 (Tri Bourne/Chaim Schalk), meaning without being upset, these two would face each other in the Finals.
I’m not saying I want that, but I don’t not want that.
Miles Partain and Andy Benesh make their 2023 debut as a highly-anticipated new team. They have everyone talking about their quick, tricky offense and high ceiling of potential. Both having separately won their first AVPs in 2022, these young guns are out to claim their first event together as an AVP duo. Of course, they have the 1 and 2 seeds, Miami Beach Champs Taylor/Taylor, Chase Budinger/Miles Evans, who earned 2nd place in Miami and a recent FIVB, and all the other elite teams on the Men’s side. Not an easy order.
The Men’s Qualifier, just like the Women’s, will be a gnarly grind to Friday. Sam Schachter, one of Canada’s top male players, has partnered with Travis Mewhirter for the weekend. The pair are the first team in the Quali and hungry for a Main Draw berth. Beach volleyball legend and Olympic Gold & Silver medalist Alison is back on the AVP for the first time since 2009, partnering with the much-missed Eric Beranek.
All this is to say that you’d better find a good spot on the sand for Thursday’s Qualifier, and keep coming back every day as the tournament promises to get better and better through the weekend.
Huntington Beach Open Bonus: Meet & Greets
On Saturday, May 13, six AVP athletes will be at the Pacific City Shopping Center in Huntington Beach from 5-6:30PM, giving away Wilson freebies, autographing the new line of AVP Merch, and taking pics with the lucky fans who can make it. Come to the Paver Patio at Pacific City to see Tri Bourne, Chaim Schalk, Toni Rodriguez, Chase Frishman, Corinne Quiggle, and Sarah Schermerhorn.
During the Huntington Beach Open, you’ll have even more opportunities to meet your favorite athletes up close. Come to the on-site Merch Tent on Friday and Saturday at 12PM and 3PM to grab a photo and some of our fresh 40th Anniversary AVP merch that you can get autographed right away! Voice of the AVP Mark Schuermann will announce on-site who’ll be at each Meet & Greet, so get there early and listen for your favorites.