The final team tournament of the year was held in Manhattan Beach this past weekend. Earlier in the year, this tournament's format was decided to be an 8 team automatic entry with 8 more teams coming in from a qualifier. After much campaigning and even going before the Manhattan Beach Council, a group of people fought to have the format changed from 16 total teams to a much bigger, 32 team draw. It seemed to work out for the best. However, the 8 automatic entries remained the same, but now they had 24 teams work their way in from the qualifier.
Holly and I finished 5th in San Francisco which automatically qualified us for Manhattan Beach. We were the 5th seed of the tournament. Unfortunately, we were not playing our best volleyball and ended our season together with a very disappointing 9th place finish. We played a very long day of volleyball on Friday.
Our first match was against MacArthur/Lehman at 9AM. We took care of business and won easily, 21-13, 21-10. Next, we played the Lindquists and had another all out battle. They played great, digging everything we sent at them. We lost a tough one, 20-22, 22-20, 13-15. That loss was very disappointing, but we had to bounce back. We would have to play 3 more matches that day.
Next, we faced Straton/Wing. We struggled through the first game, but won 21-19, 21-16. We were not playing our best volleyball, but we got by. I was not playing confident and aggressively. I was sort of in my own head. After the match, I went down to the ocean to recharge. I swam for a bit and tried to relax. It helped tremendously.
Our next match was against Lewis/Lima in the stadium. Things came together for us and we played our best volleyball of the tournament. We won 21-8, 21-9! Nothing dropped on Holly and we played together, near flawlessly. It was a great match which helped get my confidence back.
Our 5th match of the day was against Roca/Fendrick at 5:30PM. We went back to playing poor volleyball and lost. We were in it all the way, but never took over and controlled the match. We lost 19-21, 24-26. We were down in the second set, 12-16 and went on a run to tie it up at 19-19. We battled point after point, getting the advantage and serving game point several times, but never closed it out. The game ended when the referee made a very questionable call for a lift after Holly covered herself off the block. It was an unbelievable way to end a close match. In my opinion, it was a terrible call, but referees make mistakes too. We had several other chances and should have taken care of it then. So that ended our season together as a team.
Saturday, despite my feelings of disappointment, I went down to the tournament and hung out all day. I signed autographs with Holly at the PNY tent. Then I hung out in the Level 10 Fitness tent with my trainer, Meredith Miller. I signed a few autographs and took pictures with some of the kids stopping by.
Sunday, Meredith held a "Workout on the Beach with the Pros" to promote Level 10. I was there to workout with everyone and have some fun. She kicked our butts, but we all had a great time. Then before the men's final, I played in a celebrity charity match for Stand Up to Cancer which will be aired on Best Damn Sports Show. My team consisted of Coach Kurt Rambis, Laker Sasha Vujacic, The Bachelorette Deanna Pappas and her fiance, pro snow boarder Jesse Csincsak, Bob Marley's son Rohan Marley, actor Johnny Messner, Suzanne Stonebarger, and me. We played a game to 15 points and my team won! It was fun to meet new people and teach them a little about beach volleyball while raising money for a great cause.
This coming weekend is the Gods and Goddesses of the Beach Challenge in Glendale, Arizona for the top 12 players on tour. Holly and I will be competing there in the Goddess of the Beach Challenge. The pools were announced and I will be playing with Annett Davis, Tyra Turner, and Barbra Fontana. This is a very fun event where we play round robin style (one match with every person in your pool.) The top two players from each pool will then advance to the next round. This event will complete the AVP 2008 season. It has come and gone incredibly fast. I have enjoyed it every step of the way.
I want to give a HUGE shout out to my wonderful sponsors, REAL WATER, CUERVO, PNY, and FUBAR for all their support and encouragement! They help to make my life on the beach much easier!
Thanks for reading!