I did a rough estimate on how many matches I’ve DJed during my 18 years working with the AVP, and I came up with about 2,583. I suspect that number is low, but that’s still A LOT of matches to choose just one from. My favorite, or more accurately, most memorable match, was the 2009 Men’s Finals in Glendale, AZ. And to be honest with you, it took me a while to remember it.
As a DJ, I’m always thinking about what’s next. I don’t dwell too much on the past as I’m always mentally planning for the upcoming moments. There have been plenty of times when a player has come into the DJ booth to ask who won the match on Stadium Court that ended five minutes prior that I honestly can’t remember.
There are specific moments that stick out, though. Rosie’s Vegas and Manhattan Beach Line hits. A player I won’t name telling her opponent she’ll kick her in the (insert your favorite curse word here) throat, DURING THE MATCH. Stein Metzger jumping higher than I’ve ever seen any human jump because he was startled due to an intern, unknowingly, placing a bag of delicious chocolate chip cookies on my sound effects board triggering EVERY sound effect to blast through the speaker system at the same time.
For the majority of the first half of my AVP DJ career, most Stadium Courts looked exactly the same in each city. I have a hard time remembering where certain matches took place or, sometimes, if they were day or night matches. So when the AVP asked me to recall my favorite match, I worried that I couldn’t remember one well enough to discuss it in detail. Or trust that I’d remember the details correctly.
The first match I thought of was the 2019 Men’s Finals in Hawaii. Of course, it sticks out because it’s Hawaii. But there was more to that fact for me. In 2018, leading up to the Hawaii AVP, I’d been on the road for over three weeks with both the AVP and King of the Court. I got the worst sinus infection I’ve ever had during that trip. The entire time we were in Hawaii, all I wanted to do was rip my eyeballs out of my head in hopes that it would relieve the pressure. Because nothing else was working. Since that put a little damper on my 2018 Hawaii trip, I looked at the 2019 AVP Hawaii event as a redo.
That Men’s Final proved one for the history books, even with AVP staff member Jeff Conover ALMOST ruining it (DJ Booth Rule #1: Absolutely NO open containers on the table with the equipment).
Beyond that Final, the match that popped into my head like a lightbulb going off was the 2009 Men’s finals in Glendale, AZ. It’s memorable to me as much for what happened off-court as what was happening on the court.
This tournament was actually a USA vs. Brazil event. The Men’s Final featured Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers vs. Alison Cerutti and Harley Marques. These two teams had seen a lot of each other, and the international rivalry was strong. If you ever had the pleasure of listening to yours truly on the first-ever volleyball podcast, The Net Live, you most likely heard an iconic clip of Phil saying, “I love beating Brazil.” Emphasis on love. That statement was as true in this Final as it was in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Men’s Gold Medal Match when they beat another Brazilian team, Marcio Araujo and Fabio Luiz Magalhaes. Just like the third set in the Olympics (which Phil and Todd won 15-4), Phil started this match in Glendale doing Phil things.
Here’s all you need to know about this Final that Phil and Todd won in straight sets, 21-14 & 21-15. At 9-1 in the first set, Phil had 4 blocks and 4 aces. Like I said, Phil doing Phil things (yes, I had to look up those numbers just to make sure I got them correct).
What stood out the most to me during this match, though, was the other AVP players. They were ALL there cheering on Phil and Todd as if they’d traveled to Glendale just to sit in the stands to celebrate their favorite AVP players. They were like everyday fans. Every point Phil and Todd scored, the other athletes were out of their seats yelling, cheering, clapping, and dancing (thanks for always dancing, Misty). During a TV timeout, Phil even credited his fellow AVP competitors with how fired up he was.
Fittingly, Phil ended the match with an ace, which was then followed by all the AVP players rushing the court to celebrate Phil and Todd’s victory.
I was a fan of volleyball before I was the Tour DJ, and I will be a fan after I’m done. By 2009, I’d been DJing on Tour for many years, and I was already considered a part of the AVP Family. But the moment I saw all the AVP players rush the court, that was the moment I knew I was a part of something special.