COSTA MESA, CALIF. (Nov. 19, 2014) – The AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) Pro Beach Volleyball Tour announced its year-end award winners today, recognizing the top performers from the 2014 season.
The tour experienced another strong season in 2014, as it again held seven tournaments across the country in its second full year under the leadership of Donald Sun. Familiar stars shone brightly, and new standouts emerged as the season progressed. With its end-of-season awards, the AVP honors the beach volleyball veterans and newcomers that have helped elevate the level of competition enjoyed by thousands of fans across the country in 2014.
The year-end honors were awarded based on statistics, player votes and points earned during the 2014 tour schedule. Ten players were nominated in the categories of best defensive player, best blocker and best server, based on statistics (blocks, digs and aces recorded per set, with a minimum of 30 sets played to qualify for the category), with the winner being chosen by votes cast by active AVP players. Similarly, the top 10 offensive players were nominated based on hitting percentage (with a minimum of 600 attacks to qualify), with the winner also being selected by AVP players. Five men’s players and nine women’s players were nominated for newcomer of the year honors, based on the criteria that they must have been ranked among the top 32 players in their gender at the end of the 2014 season and must have played in less than half of the previous season’s man draws.
Winners in the categories of most valuable player and most improved player were selected by AVP athletes through a write-in ballot. Teams were nominated in the category of team of the year based on tournament wins and overall points earned in 2014, with the winner being selected in a vote cast by the AVP players.
AVP 2014 award winners
Best blocker Theo Brunner Lauren Fendrick
Best server Brad Keenan April Ross
Best defender Nick Lucena Brooke Sweat
Best offensive player Tri Bourne Kerri Walsh Jennings
Most improved player Jeremy Casebeer Kim DiCello
Newcomer of the year Trevor Crabb Amanda Dowdy
Most valuable player Jake Gibb April Ross
Team of the year Jake Gibb & Kerri Walsh Jennings &
Casey Patterson April Ross
More information on the AVP’s 2014 award winners is below:
Brunner earned the award for the second straight season. The 6-foot-7 UC Santa Barbara product stuffed his opponents 163 times this season, putting him at the top of the list among men’s players. His 2.12 blocks/game average was also the best.
Fendrick was the top women’s blocker on the AVP this year, recording 108 stuffs. Her 1.48 blocks/game was also tops on the Tour amongst female players.
Keenan totaled 58 aces during the season in 30 matches (75 games), good for a 0.77 ace/game average. His 58 aces ranked him second among the top 32 male players on the AVP, behind only Casey Patterson, who had 60.
Ross collected the award for the second time in her career. She totaled 94 aces on the season, 24 more than the next player. Ross averaged 1.24 aces/game, good for best among the women on the Tour.
Lucena was named the best defender on the AVP for the second time in his career, the first time coming in 2008. He dug his opponents 447 times, the most of any men’s player on Tour. His 5.52 digs/game average ranked him third, behind Casey Jennings and Todd Rogers.
Digging her opponents 443 times during the course of the season, Sweat has been voted the AVP best defender for the second straight year. Sweat’s 6.07 digs/game was good for third among AVP women, behind Geena Urango and Kendra Van Zwieten.
Best offensive player
Following up a 2013 season in which he was named newcomer of the year, Bourne emerged as an offensive force in his second year on the Tour. Hitting .460 in 86 games this season, Bourne ranked second among the men behind two-time Olympian Jake Gibb. Bourne won his first career title in 2014 at the AVP Milwaukee Open, with partner John Hyden.
Kerri Walsh Jennings
Recording the honor for the first time since 2003, Walsh Jennings was the most efficient woman on the AVP Tour this year, hitting .511 and recording 479 kills with just 81 errors on 779 swings. Walsh Jennings, who along with teammate April Ross, won all seven tournaments on the AVP schedule, was also honored for setting the women’s record for AVP tournament victories.
Most improved player
Casebeer had a breakout season in 2014, as he finished a career best third at the Cincinnati Open with partner Casey Jennings. Casebeer spent much of the 2013 season battling through open qualifiers, but established himself as a main draw threat in 2014. At only 6-foot-5, Casebeer is one of the smaller blockers on the Tour but still managed to shut down his opponents 139 times in just 76 games (1.83 block/game average). The 25-year-old UCLA product ended the season as the 12th-ranked men’s player on the AVP.
DiCello had her best season so far on the AVP in 2014, as she finished third in four tournaments – a career best. DiCello began the year playing with Tealle Hunkus for the first two AVP stops, but then teamed up with AVP rising star Lane Carico for the remainder of the season. After placing 13th in their first event, the duo advanced into the semifinals at each of the following four events. The six-foot San Diego native ranked fourth among women in kills with 475 and was eighth in blocks, totaling 62.
Newcomer of the year
Crabb finished a career high third with partner Billy Allen in Atlantic City. In his first full season on the AVP, Crabb finished seventh or better in four of the seven events. After starting the year with two 13th-place finishes playing with Steven VanderWerp, Crabb teamed up with veteran Allen, and they secured a fifth-place finish in their first event together, in Salt Lake City. The 25-year-old Long Beach State graduate finished the year with 91 blocks in 61 games (1.49 block/game average), ranking him 10th among the men on Tour.
In her first year on the AVP, Dowdy partnered with Olympian Nicole Branagh and showed why she is a rising star on the Tour. The pair finished outside the top ten in only one event, collecting four fifth-place finishes and two ninths. A force at the net, Dowdy collected 64 blocks and a 1.16 blocks/game average, putting her third among the women.
Most valuable player
Gibb took home the top individual honor for the third time in his career (2005, 2013, 2014). The two-time Olympian was atop the standings in offensive efficiency, hitting .472 over 78 games. He finished the year with 370 kills and just 66 errors on 644 swings.
Ross has collected the top individual honor for the second straight season. She and partner Kerri Walsh Jennings won every AVP event during the season, while Ross proved to be an offensive threat both behind the serving line and attacking at the net. In addition to her 94 aces, Ross led all women with 556 kills. On defense, she recorded 372 digs for a 4.89 digs/game average.
Team of the year
Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson
The top-ranked team on the AVP was named team of the year for the second consecutive season. Since teaming up at the beginning of 2013, the duo has taken home eight AVP titles – six more than the next team, Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal. The team failed to make the finals in only two of the seven AVP events in 2014, and took home the title in the final three events (Cincinnati, Atlantic City and Huntington Beach).
Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross
Dominating the AVP and winning every event, Walsh Jennings and Ross being voted as the Tour’s team of the year in 2014 was hardly a surprise. The duo dropped only four games all year, winning 36 consecutive matches during the course of the season.