Have you ever watched a professional volleyball match and realized that the action is strikingly similar to other sports? Or think some of the AVP pros have a style of play that can be found in another arena? The degree of skill is the same, and the level of passion might be even higher.
Here at the AVP we watch a LOT of volleyball (it’s kind of our job), and these moments of comparison happen all the time.
This got us thinking…which AVP athletes remind us of household names from other sports?
Feel free to disagree, but we’re right.
Phil Dalhausser and Tim Duncan
Two giants within the sport, both literally and figuratively. These two have made long, illustrious careers out of keen attention to fundamentals and defense. Most specifically, stuffing their opponent at the rim (or net).
Phil Dalhausser has been the most dominant force in beach volleyball since the mid-2000’s, with an Olympic gold medal under his belt, not to mention multiple AVP Tour and FIVB championships.
Duncan knows a thing or two about winning, as well. After an almost 20-year career with the San Antonio Spurs, including 5 world championships, he is considered one of the greatest big men of all time.
These two studs are some of the best to ever compete in their respective sports, but you wouldn’t know it from their calm and under-the-radar personalities. They’d probably give all the credit to their trusty sidekicks.
In Tim’s case, that’s Tony Parker. In Phil’s case… we’ll let Todd Rogers and current partner Nick Lucena battle that one out.
April Ross and Carli Lloyd
While it may be difficult to compare their exact styles of play, these two athletes have been the face of their sport for over a decade.
Having played with Kerri Walsh Jennings and also against her, Ross has seen it all. She is a two-time Olympian, finishing with silver and bronze, and a 2009 FIVB World Champion with Jen Kessy. Over these past 10 years, countless boys and girls have looked up to April as a staple of U.S. beach volleyball, where she is still dominating the AVP and international circuit with partner Alix Klineman.
Lloyd’s resume is equally as impressive, having won Olympic gold twice. Oh, and you might have heard about the team she captains, which won the FIFA World Cup in 2015 and this past July.
When we ask the next generation of volleyball and soccer stars who they idolized growing up, the safe bet is on April Ross and Carli Lloyd.
Tri Bourne and Derrick Rose
Both tremendously talented within their sports, these two have had to battle through a mountain of adversity to be able to compete at the highest level again.
Derrick Rose, a former first overall pick in the NBA draft, Rookie of the Year, and MVP, has dealt with a myriad of injuries that have kept him on and off the court these past five years. However, he returned to top form last season, averaging 18 points per game and recording a career high 50 points leaving him emotional in his post-game interview. Look out for a big season from Rose on his new team, the Detroit Pistons.
Similar to Rose, Bourne is a top talent within the AVP and on the world stage, who has faced some trials and tribulations over the past 4 years. After missing a full two years of competition with a rare autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis, Tri returned to the court this summer (and secured himself a gold medal on the FIVB tour) only to break his hand at the FIVB Vienna Major a few months later. Don’t count Tri out, though. He just finished playing in Rome (with one hand) and is still a top candidate, along with partner Trevor Crabb, to represent the U.S. at next summer’s games.
Sarah Sponcil and Coco Gauff
This comparison might be even stronger in five years.
Sponcil, an up-and-comer onin the AVP, just graduated from UCLA in 2018 (23 years old). After just missing an AVP championship win in Austin in (2018) and NYC (2019) this past summer, it’s safe to say she’ll be adding more hardware to her trophy case soon.
Gauff, a former world No.1 junior, is now lighting the world on fire at the likes of Wimbledon — at only 15 years old. A big win over Venus Williams really put her on the map, and now each of her matches is must-see TV for sports fans.
Keep an eye out for out these two rising stars — they’re just getting started.
Maddison McKibbin and James Harden
If we’re being honest, this comparison is just because of the beards. So majestic.
Betsi Flint and Brooke Henderson
Watching Betsi Flint play this season, you quickly learn why her nickname has become the ‘Silent Assassin.’ Not a rookie but not quite a veteran, Flint is 27 years old and already has an impressive resume with 5 AVP championships, a gold and a silver on the FIVB World Tour. Along with the hardware, Flint is currently leading the AVP tour in aces with 85. Flint lets her skillset and accolades speak for her, showcasing a very calm and sweet demeanor on the court. You’ll never see Flint throwing her hands in the air or yelling at the ref (okay, there was that one time). Instead, you can find her taking care of business on the court and hanging out with loved ones off the court.
Her nickname may not be the same as Flint’s, but LPGA standout Brooke Henderson shares many of the same qualities. At only 22 years old, Henderson already has 9 LPGA titles under her belt and has established herself on the professional tour. However, when the media and fans get to talking LPGA, Henderson’s name is not in the forefront, even though her skillset says otherwise. Henderson plays with a quiet strength on the course, crushing her drive when it’s needed, but staying quiet and getting it done with her sister on the bag.
Chase Budinger and Chase Budinger
This is probably our strongest comparison yet.
Chase Budinger was a high school standout in basketball, eventually being recruited to play at the University of Arizona. A second-round pick in the NBA draft, Budinger enjoyed a seven-year career, playing for the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, and Phoenix Suns.
Chase Budinger, on the other hand, was a high school standout in volleyball, earning National Player of the Year Honors and leading his school to three state championships. Now, after a decade-long break from organized volleyball (we have no idea what he was doing during that time), Budinger has returned to the game as part of the AVP circuit. Alongside veteran Casey Patterson, Budinger collected his first AVP win this past July at the Hermosa Open.
There’s something so similar about these two studs, but we can’t quite put our finger on it.