If you haven’t already heard, the June AVP NYC has been postponed to a later date. The delay makes me feel all sorts of ways:
- Thankful that New York is taking necessary precautions to slow the spread. Traveling to NYC in June would’ve made me a little uncomfortable. I’m sure I’m not the only player who feels that way.
- Devastated that I have to wait an extra month to compete in and watch an AVP tournament. I’m so antsy to get back in the sand.
- Sorta stoked that the first tourney of 2020 will be in my current hometown of Hermosa.
- Bored in the house and, as a result, clairvoyant about the 2020 season.
So we’ll focus on that last one.
AVP 2020 is gonna be lit. With the current life-on-hold situation, athletes and fans will appreciate this season even more than previous years. Plus, the talent and teams heading into this year are better than any I’ve known since I started playing. I’m eager to see all the potential Olympic teams at most AVP tournaments as the FIVB was largely canceled. They’re bound to thrust all their pent up Tokyo 2020 energy into slaying at every AVP. I’m almost more excited to see the new teammates that have paired up and been training this offseason.
I keep dreaming about three-set thrillers, come-from-behind victories, new faces, old faces, musical chairs competitions, spending all day hopping from court to court either playing or watching, loading up on sunscreen all day so I don’t become a lobster, and seeing the best beach volleyball in the game. Literally dreaming it. I just need the AVP, and I know I’m not the only one.
In the meantime, I’m going to pretend to know the future and give you my 2020 predictions. Please feel free to reach out to me @kimesmith21 on Instagram to affirm or debate my picks. I’m making unbiased, highly-educated, and accurate choices, though. So if you disagree with me — you’re wrong.
Rookie of the Year: Sarah Sponcil
Though she’s played for a couple of years, Sponcil has never played in enough tournaments to be viable for this award. This Championship Sunday regular and Olympic hopeful is a shoo-in.
Most Aces for the Men: Phil Dalhausser
He won Best Server last year and frankly has a great chance of winning it again. He has about as many aces per match as he has abs. But I’m picking Phil Dalhausser. I feel like he’s going to channel all his aggression about COVID-19 into the impossible downward trajectory of his serve.
Most Aces for the Women: Betsi Flint…?
This one is harder. Betsi Flint, the 2019 Best Server winner, has an incredible float serve. You have NO IDEA where that sucker is going until it falls two feet in front of your outstretched platform or hits you in the chest. Of course, April Ross is always in the mix. I’m not counting out Geena Urango, though. Though less consistent, when Geena is on, her jump top-spin serve is the hardest serve on the AVP tour. She finds the outside of the sideline so often that you’re forced to take a step over. And right when you do, she rips an ungettable ball between you and your partner. If she’s working on her service game, I think G could get back in the running.
Player Likely to Have the Longest Matches: Billy Kolinske
While Jake Gibb has claimed this title for a while (due to his lengthy conversations with the refs questioning their call), Billy Kolinske has dethroned him as the King of Delays. In his eleven matches at the MBO, six of them were over an hour. Billy takes his time between points in myriad ways — wiping his glasses, coaching his teammate, talking to the ref, kicking sand around, fixing the line, asking the ball people to wipe down the ball. Sometimes he’ll deploy two or three different methods between points. I don’t know if he’s doing it to catch his breath or infuriate his opponents, but both are happening.
Best Hitting Percentage for the Men: Reid Priddy
Reid is such a phenomenal volleyball player, not to mention he’s one of the hardest workers on tour. No doubt he’ll have maximized his offseason to perfect his already high-level game. Even during the quarantine, I’m sure he’s finding a way.
Best Hitting Percentage for the Women: Brandi Wilkerson
Brandi Wilkerson is a wicked accurate and unpredictable hitter. Last MBO, she only dipped below .450 once. Three out of her seven matches, she was above .700 – that’s incredible. Her leftie is hard to read, and because she’s not the tallest, she’s had to tighten up her shots. You don’t know if you should pull and risk getting blown up or stay to block and have her work around your hands. The result is a hard-to-read, athletic powerhouse who racks up the kills.
Qualifier Player Who’ll Breach the Main Draw: Chelsea Ross
While there are so many ridiculously talented players coming up on both sides, Chelsea Ross is my pick. She hits the ball harder than anyone I’ve played against, including April Ross. It hurts to block her. Plus, she’s a phenomenal defensive reader and improves every time I see her. Chelsea recently moved to Hermosa Beach to pursue the game and began the 2019 season as a low-seeded qualifier. By the end of the year, she qualified for the Manhattan Beach Open and almost made it to Saturday.
Most Likely to Win MBO for the Men: Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb
I think Taylor will get his name on the Pier this year, especially after he sees big brother Trevor’s name etched into beach volleyball history.
Most Likely to Win MBO for the Women: April Ross and Alix Klineman
They’ll be out for blood after their close loss to the Canadians last summer.
How many people Mark Schuermann will make throw up during Dizzy Bat: One per tournament
(He’s saying this next to me as I type). Of course, it’ll depend on how long the contestants have spent in the Beer Garden. Also, if we get a few Wannabes on court, I say he can get two or more in a single go.
New Fan Favorite Team for the Men: Casey Patterson and Troy Field
Casey has been dancing on and off the court for almost two decades. Troy is just as flamboyant and energetic. These two hams are going to be pumping up the crowd, shaking it to DJ Roueche’s music, and, oh yeah, making some nasty athletic plays.
New Fan Favorite Team for the Women: Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes
They’re not really a new team, but as I said before – Sponcil hasn’t competed in enough AVPs to be considered a Rookie. So AVP fans have been grossly deprived of her game. Whether she’s laying out for a one-arm stab dig or setting butter, Sponcil’s style of play is both pristine and fun. Her counterpart Kelly Claes is a proven AVP standout and phenomenal all-around player. Bonus: they’re not afraid to be silly and vulnerable for comedy. Just check out one of their music videos.
DJ Roueche’s Song of Year: Bored in the House by Curtis Roach and Tyga
Think of how great hearing this song will be when we’re allowed to leave our houses.