Phil and Casey are playing their first-ever AVP together, Olympian Brandie Wilkerson is back on our beach, Andy Benesh and Team TKN are on winning tears, and the AVP is in New Orleans for the first time since 2016. Things are happening.
It’ll be swampy and hot, as Louisiana is known for, but that’s why we’re not starting until 1pm on Friday and Saturday, and 11am on Sunday. Prepare for a raging party while watching your favorite athletes play under the lights.
The San Antonio feeder event wrapped last weekend, so the NOLA Main Draw is set. Six teams from the women’s side and five from the men’s earned a berth in the Big Easy. Usually, only four spots would be open for the taking. But a few teams dropped from the Main Draw after the entry deadline (Chaim Schalk/Theo Brunner; Sarah Sponcil/Terese Cannon; Kelley Kolinske/Sara Hughes). April Ross also withdrew to tend to her nagging injury. Emily Day picked up National Champion and USC standout Hailey Harward. Keep your eye on that duo.
Molly Turner and Jessica Gaffney qualified once again through an AVP Next Feeder event, but they won the whole thing this time. Savvy Simo and Toni Rodriguez also earned their way into NOLA with a third-place finish. Kenzie Ponnet, an AVP staple in recent years, finished strong and will play in the Main Draw with partner and good friend Chelsea Rice.
AVP Austin Winners Taryn Kloth & Kristen Nuss, aka TKN, are stoked for this one. As Louisiana natives who are adamant about staying in LA the state and not moving to LA the city, they’re ready to bring the AVP to their home turf. Taryn and Kristen have a solid fan base almost everywhere they roam; imagine what it will look like just miles from their home in Metairie, LA. The stands are sure to be solid purple and gold as the LSU fans come to cheer their Tiger alums on.
Taryn & Kristen also just won Gold in the FIVB Challenger Event in Turkey. They have now won two of their three international events this year, and of course, they won the first AVP of 2022. They’re hot heading into their hometown. Everyone else, look out.
Brandie Wilkerson & Zana Muno are playing together for the first time. As two dynamic and extremely fun players to watch, I’m really excited to see them step on the AVP beach for the first time this year.
Megan Kraft & Emily Stockman are a team to watch; fresh off her second National Championship title, Megan is set to do well this season. She’s already made a name for herself on Tour, taking a few single-digit finishes and playing at an extremely high level.
Sarah Schermerhorn & Corinne Quiggle are also back from their international travels and ready to climb the ranks. They’ll take on Sarah’s former partner Megan Rice in the first round of NOLA; three cheers for an ex-partner battle.
There’s a solid chance Phil Dalhausser & Casey Patterson will take the cake on the Men’s side. Andy Benesh & Nick Lucena are right on their tail, though, Andy hungry for a repeat Pro Series win, and Nick hungry to solidify their young partnership. Andy just won the San Antonio AVPNext with Tim Brewster; seems like nothing can stop him now he’s tasted victory.
If Phil and Andy don’t win, will they get back together? Asking for a friend…
AVP Austin runners-up Chase Budinger & Troy Field have to be filled with confidence and fire to get their first team win. Fun fact: Troy lived in Lafayette, LA, for four years in high school. He’s quite fond of Louisiana and has been itching for the AVP to return to NOLA since he joined the Tour five years ago. We’ll have to see if his southern roots give him the extra push he needs to earn the trophy.
Paul Lotman and Miles Partain are back together now Miles has wrapped his incredibly impressive college season at UCLA. Stoked to see this ultra-fun team back in action. Roberto “Rafu” Rodriguez & Dave Palm return to the Main Draw with their solid San Antonio showing, along with Lev Priima and Lila Tucker. Chase Frishman has resurfaced, this year taking the stage with AVP newcomer Noah Dyer out of Pepperdine University. I love seeing these up-and-comers winning big in San Antonio and now ready to make names for themselves in the Pro Series.
Get your tickets at avp.com, including exclusive Deck seats with free drink tickets and the best seats in the house.