2019 AVP Season Hits The Ground Running on Day 1

Sun, surf, sand and volleyball— there is no better combination than that in Southern California, particularly in Huntington Beach, CA, where today the AVP professional beach season kicked into gear! From reading players’ Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts there was no doubt this anticipation was going to result in high energy play with teams wanting to start off the 2019 right!

In the Men’s Bracket, all the top seeds did what they were supposed to do and there were no upsets, and all the teams that were expected to drop into the contender’s bracket did so. The largest upset happened in Match 25 where Webber/Honer, seeded 21st, took down Frishman/Marciniak, seeded #11, in 3 sets. The most energetic match of the day on the Men’s side happened in Stadium Court featuring Rafu (Roberto Rodriguez) and “The Rat” (Ed Ratledge), battling former NBA standout Chase Budinger and the electric Casey Patterson. Rafu was coming up with defensive saves that had the crowd in awe. Chase Budinger showed off his “Wrist On A Swivel” attack as he blasted a ball cross-court and bounced it within 5 feet of the other side of the net. After this jaw-dropping kill, Patterson made the gesture of dislocating his arm in funky positions that involved dislocating wrists, shoulders and elbows to emulate Budingers’ recent circus shot attack! Let’s just face it— Casey Patterson was born to entertain not only with his excellent level of play, but also for his vibrant personality!

Aubrey Nourse on the attack in their victory over Smith/Wheeler.

Aubrey Nourse on the attack in their victory over Smith/Wheeler.

In the Women’s Bracket, most of the top seeds also won as they were supposed to, except for the newly formed team of 21st seed Maria Clara Salgado and Traci Callahan who defeated #12-seed Allen/Schuh, then #5-seed Claes /Wilkerson, then finally dropped their 3rd Round Main Draw Bracket match to #4 Emily Day/Betsi Flint. Other than that, the twin youngsters from Newport Beach, Audrey and Nicole Nourse qualified for their 1st-ever main draw! They are just a mere couple of 16 year-olds. Ironically, the were eliminated by another set of 16 year olds who also qualified for their first main draw, Megan Kraft and Delayney Maple.! On a personal note, my favorite player to watch on Day 1 was Brandy Wilkerson who was either rejecting attackers or swatting balls for put-aways!

More to come on Day #2 of the AVP Huntington Beach! Check back in tomorrow!


College Volleyball Weekly: Week 9 Summary

Big Dogs in the Big West Established

After 9 weeks of the Men’s NCAA D1-2 Collegiate Volleyball season two things stand abundantly clear as to who the big dogs are: Long Beach St. is the number one team in the nation, and Hawaii is the number two team in the nation— and how it stands in this talent-heavy conference. It also goes without saying that the ‘Bows have the potential to threaten The Beach’s quest for back-to-back National Championships.

Long Beach St. continued in it’s winning ways collecting their 15th straight win—and doing so with only dropping one set this season to USC weeks ago. Hawaii has had similar success but have not dropped a set this season with 12 straight wins. Up until this last weekend many were questioning the strength, talent and ability of this Rainbow team because they have not had as worthy of opponents as Long Beach St.’s. After witnessing firsthand the back-to-back sweeps of #3 UC Irvine, IN IRVINE, I can firmly state that this Hawaii team is a SERIOUS contender to be in that National Championship match come the first weekend in May.

Yes, we’ve heard about SVT (Stijn van Tilburg), and Rado Parupunov—they are offensive juggernauts for the ‘Bows, but what makes them different this year is SVT doesn’t have to have a superstar performance every night for Hawaii to win. Rado has improved significantly from last season and it is readily apparent in his confidence on the court in all aspects of his game. Hawaii has two bona-fide scoring options WHO TERMINATE the ball consistently, however one cannot overlook the phenomenal setting of Joe Worsley and extraordinary defense of his brother, Gage, at Libero. One cannot overlook the rise-to-the-occasion play of high-flyer Colton Cowell—because if teams ignore him they will be in a world of hurt. They’ve added on some potent power that can inflict damage from the service line in Jakob Thelle who subs in for Gasman/Solbrig. This 6’6” setter from Norway fired off lasers off the bench keeping Irvine out of system challenging the Irvine receivers.

UCSB, is still a hot team to watch being that they are on an 11-match winning streak, and will most likely get their 12th vs. Lindenwood this week behind the arms of Wilcox and All-American candidate, Corey Chavers. After that this Gaucho team takes on #1 Long Beach St. for two. You know Coach McLaughlin is eye-balling those dates and has his team thinking “Upset Weekend.”

UC Irvine will be looking to recover after their back-to-back losses to #2 Hawaii, but it’s not going to be easy as they travel up to Provo vs. BYU for two. With the ‘Eaters’ newfound wisdom from two humbling losses many are eager to see how this team responds and their ability to challenge the top teams in the Big West.

Bruins Lay Claim at the Top

UCLA given their multiple injuries, adjustments and challenging opponents have to be happy that they sit atop the MPSF at 6-0. Brandon Rattray has come back from injury to lead the way for the Bruins, but the consistent play of Micah Ma’a and Kofi Gyimah, and contributions of Austin Matautia at the pin have secured them that place at the top. Bruins erased a 0-2 deficity to #5 Pepperdine mid-week last week in dramatic fashion, which gave them separation in the race for the MPSF title— for now.

It’s a virtual log-jam for 2nd in the MPSF with three teams, Pepperdine, BYU, and Stanford all have 4 wins, while USC coming off the upset of #5 Pepperdine has 3. The MPSF race will be one to watch closely.

Matches I’ll be watching this week…

Friday, March 8

  • #3 UC Irvine at #10 BYU

Saturday, March 9

  • #3 UC Irvine at #10 BYU

  • # 6 Pepperdine at #2 Hawaii

Until College Volleyball Weekly on The Net Live next week be sure to follow the happenings on your favorite Men’s Volleyball resource— that can be VolleyballMag.com, Off-the Block Blog, and/or Volleytalk. Show that there is a healthy following of volleyball by engaging their sites and social media. It’s as easy as that to #GrowTheGame!

FIVB Volleyball Nations League: Comin' in HOT Chicago (Men)!

HIGH ACTION VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT MAKES IT’S WAY BACK TO LINCOLN, NEBRASKA!

“Following a spectacular and highly successful inaugural season in 2018, which saw Russia’s men and USA’s women pick up the first gold medals to be awarded, the FIVB Volleyball Nations League enters its second edition in 2019 with high expectations for another remarkable couple of months of amazing volleyball action around the world. “

The men’s core teams of Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Serbia and USA, along with challenger teams Australia, Bulgaria, Canada and Portugal will be battling for the coveted VNL trophy.

Brazil is always fighting for a top spot in FIVB competition— it will most likely be the same in the 2019 Edition of VNL.

Brazil is always fighting for a top spot in FIVB competition— it will most likely be the same in the 2019 Edition of VNL.

When the teams enter Week 4 of the VNL Preliminary Round, June 21st-23rd, 2019, the National Teams of Japan, China, Canada and host USA will gather in Hoffman Estates, Illinois— host of the men’s preliminary round last year. I’ll be working the MC/Host mic along with DJ Ray-G. Tickets available through Ticketmaster at http://ow.ly/U3mC30nHbJ7.

FIVB VNL| http://www.volleyball.world/en/vnl/2019
Tickets | http://ow.ly/U3mC30nHbJ7

College Volleyball Weekly: Presidents' Day Run-Down

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Each week during the NCAA Men’s Volleyball season a few of us die-hard collegiate men’s volleyball junkies break down the last week’s play around the nation on The Net Live with Kevin “Barney” Barnett and DJ Roueche (Jeremy Roueche).

My focus is mainly the Big West and MPSF Conferences, but I’ll dabble eastward when I have enough time to analyze the play! Joining me in CVW are George Mason Men’s Volleyball Head Coach, Jay Hosack, and Off-the-Block Blog Editor-in-Chief (and DJ Skrillex Clone), Vinnie Lopes. With today being President’s Day the show wasn’t on, but for the benefit of other Men’s Volleyball diehards I wanted to share some thoughts on Week 7 of D1-2 play.

Five-Set Frenzies

Wednesday, 2/13: #6 UCSB defeats #4 UCLA, 3-2; 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-12

One of the hottest arms in the nation goes to Gaucho Senior OH Corey Chavers. Throw him in a match with an injury-riddled UCLA roster, and a venue stuffed with Santa Barbara students and locals screaming their heads off— fans knew they were going to see something special. And that they did— Chavers lit up UCLA with 20K, hit .472, fired 3 aces and garnered 6 digs in this 5-set victory. In a post-match interview Coach McLaughlin credited the win to the fans in-house that pulled them over the top for the win.

A topic that came about initiated from legendary University of Hawaii Women’s Volleyball Head Coach (and UCSB Alumnus), Dave Shoji. In tweet he said:

It’s interesting to talk to coaches and survey the strategies being used in today’s game. Are you a “Grip and Rip” or “Float Serve Frenzy?”

Nonetheless, It was a big win in Goleta, for arguably one of the hottest teams in the nation, UCSB.

Thursday, 2/14: #2 UC Irvine defeats UCSD, 3-2; 25-19, 25-27, 23-25, 25-14, 16-14

The Anteaters survived 1-2 deficit by a fiery Triton team led by Collin Shannon and Wyat t Harrison, but in the end it was the consistent play by Frenchman, Aaron Koubi (17K, .469, 5 digs, 3BA, 18.5 points) and the insertion of RS-FR Opposite Hitter from Ontario, Canada, Alexandre Nsakanda (10K, 1 error, .750, 2 aces, BA) that nabbed the win for the ‘Eaters. The insertion of Nsakanda gave the ‘Eaters a different look— and an extreme flyer in the Canadian.

Thursday, 2/14: #9 Stanford defeats #14 USC, 3-2; 25-15, 26-28, 26-24, 23-25, 15-12

In an absolute slug-fest, SO Opposite Jaylen Jasper took control of the net swinging for 29K, hitting .305, while garnering 3 BAs and 6 digs. Jasper is a high flyer along with teammate Jordan Ewert so the Cardinal have an extremely lethal one-two combo.

Friday, 2/15: #5 Pepperdine defeats Grand Canyon, 3-2; 15-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 15-12

Friday night in Phoenix proved to be a testing ground of the intestinal fortitude of the Pepperdine Waves. Their “Double-W” combo attack of Wexter/Wieczorek revealed their resolve as they fired off 19K (.325) with 4 aces, and 17K, 3 aces respectively to fight off an adrenaline-filled GCU team and venue.

Top Team in the Nation

#1 Long Beach St. showed the nation why they are the consensus #1 team with a 3-0 sweep of #4 UCLA, 25-20, 25-17, 25-19. Although there are teams that can match up with them physically, the X-factor that has continued to elevate their game to even higher levels is their team chemistry and trust in the system they run— along with being one of the toughest serving teams in the nation with minimal errors. This team is so good that they don’t have to rely on a extraordinary performance by All-American OH, TJ DeFalco. This team is playing with the utmost confidence that is growing more and more each match.

In the broadcast of their previous match at UCLA, legendary UCLA Coach, Al Scates was quoted as saying, “…this (Beach) team is better than last year’s.” The Beach goes into this week with a break from play then heads into Big West Conference play vs. CSUN March 1 & 2.

Matches to Watch for 2/18-2/24

It’s a light week in both the MPSF and Big West but the matches I’m keeping an eye on this week are…

  • Grand Canyon at #9 BYU - After seeing GCU take Pepperdine to 5 sets I think any coach in the MPSF cannot take this Lopes team lightly. BYU had a good win versus a potent USC team to cap off a 2-match winning streak on the week.

  • #14 USC at #6 UCLA - “The Battle for LA” is such a wildcard with injuries, inconsistent play, and uncertain lineups, however the historic rivalry between these two teams alone always adds an excitement and enthusiasm that goes unmatched in the City of Angels.

There’s my quick and dirty breakdown. Feel free to comment! Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @robonthemic or on Facebook!

FIVB Volleyball Nations League: Nebraska Edition (Women)

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HIGH ACTION VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT MAKES IT’S WAY BACK TO LINCOLN, NEBRASKA!

“Following a spectacular and highly successful inaugural season in 2018, which saw Russia’s men and USA’s women pick up the first gold medals to be awarded, the FIVB Volleyball Nations League enters its second edition in 2019 with high expectations for another remarkable couple of months of amazing volleyball action around the world. “

The women’s core teams of Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey and USA, along with challenger teams Belgium, Dominican Republic, Poland and Bulgaria will be battling for the coveted VNL trophy.

When the teams enter Week 3 of the VNL Preliminary Round, June 4th-6th, 2019, the National Teams of Korea, Germany, Brazil and host USA will gather in Lincoln, Nebraska— host of the women’s preliminary round last year. I’ll be working the MC/Host mic along with DJ Ray-G. Tickets available through Ticketmaster at http://ow.ly/U3mC30nHbJ7.

FIVB VNL| http://www.volleyball.world/en/vnl/2019
Tickets | http://ow.ly/U3mC30nHbJ7

The USAV Collegiate Beach Championships Descends Upon Hermosa Beach Again!

2018 USAV Collegiate Beach Champions Kristen Nuss and Claire Coppola of LSU.

2018 USAV Collegiate Beach Champions Kristen Nuss and Claire Coppola of LSU.

In 2018, the USAV Collegiate Beach Championships rocked the north side of Hermosa Beach Pier with some of the top American collegiate beach volleyball players on both the men’s and women’s sides. From Hawaii to Houston Baptist, Cal Poly to Florida St.— there was no shortage of talent to be had on the beach!

In 2019, the USAV Collegiate Beach Championships will be back May 8-11th and again, the HOTTEST American teams in the nation will grind it out on the beach! You’ll see established athletes and some up-and-comers who will duel alongside the Pacific Ocean!

LSU Tigers Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss won the 2018 women’s title while Florida State’s Jon Justice and Adam Wienckowski won the men’s championship. We saw TWO hot finals between the tournament’s hottest teams: LSU vs. Cal Poly’s Torrey VanWinden/Emily Sonny, and Florida St. vs. Hawaii’s Brett Rosenmeier/Colton Cowell.

Admission is free and I’ll be on the mic while DJ Gadatchy will be “gettin’ the beach bumpin’!”

USAV Release | https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2019/February/11/Beach-Pairs-the-Focus-of-Collegiate-Championships

2018 FIVB/Platform 1440 Las Vegas Open

Brazilians Carol Salgado and Maria Antonelli are top contenders in any event they play in.

Brazilians Carol Salgado and Maria Antonelli are top contenders in any event they play in.

The United States added another FIVB event on it’s shores and it’s a 4-star event— which means the top international teams in the world will be coming to Las Vegas October 18-21 with hopes of adding 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification points!

I’m excited to announce that I will be working the Stadium Court mic as MC for this incredible event!

Coming off the energy of the first-ever P1440 event in San Jose, CA that featured bands, health and wellness seminars, personal development and an intense international beach volleyball competition many are are looking forward to the 2018 Las Vegas Open!

UCI/Adidas Invitational Volleyball Tournament, Day 1

Yesterday the UCI/Adidas Invitational Volleyball Tournament kicked off at the UCI Bren Events Center. Four teams are pushing for the tournament championship prize while figuring themselves out in the process. Here are the results and some standout players from Day 1. 

Match 1: Roadrunners Grind It Out vs. the Anteaters

CSU Bakersfield held off a late push by UCI to take the inaugural match 3-2, 15-25, 25-16, 25-23, 22-25, 15-13. OH Desiree Sukhov and OPP Erin Hansen led the charge for the 'Runners.

Match 2: Georgia Dominates Texas Tech

The Bulldogs could not be stopped behind the offense of 6'3" Setter Meghan Donovan and OH T'ara Caesar as they sweep the Red Raiders, 25-13, 25-19, 25-14. Serving/Defensive Specialist, Kendall Glover served 7 aces in the match.

Match 3: Texas Tech Brings Heat vs. CSU Bakersfield

The Red Raiders rebound behind the brute force of their left-side attackers as they sweep the 'Runners, 25-16, 25-16, 25-18. OHs Brooke Kanas and Emily Hill worked in tandem to rule the pins. 

Match 4: Georgia Overpowers UCI

The Bulldogs held off charges by the Anteaters to sweep the hosts, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22. T'ara Caesar led the 'Dogs with 14 kills, while Rachel Ritchie chipped in 11 kills. 

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