Sunday, September 28, 2008
The AVP off season is officially here. The regular season ended this past weekend with the Best of the Beach in Glendale, Arizona. The weather was HOT and so was the action! We played with different partners every match and eventually found out just who was the "Best of the Beach."
Unfortunately, it was not me. However, I did have an awesome time. I was seeded 9th going into the event. My pool consisted of Annett Davis, Tyra Turner, and Barbra Fontana. Our first match was on Thursday evening at 6PM. The temperature was 105 degrees and we sure felt it! I played with Barbra first. We did not fair so well against Davis and Turner. They played pretty well and really took it to us. Unfortunately, our scores were 13-21, 15-21. So Barbra and I were 0-1 in pool play.
Friday morning, at 10AM with the weather at a pleasant 90 degrees and rising, I played with Annett against Barbra and Tyra. It was fun, but we did not win. We struggled finding a rhythm together. We lost 17-21, 16-21. That put my record at 0-2.
We played again at 12 noon in the HEAT! It was 103 degrees! I played with Tyra and got my first and only victory. It was an exciting three set match. We won 18-21, 21-19, 18-16. Tyra and I were down match point, 12-14 but fought our way back to win the match. It was really fun.
Tyra won our pool with her 3 victories. Annett, Barbra, and I all tied for second with our 1-2 records, so it went down to sets then points. Because my only victory came in a three set match, I automatically was in last place. Barbra and Annett were close in points, but Annett's losses were closer than Barbra's, so Annett finished second and moved on to the next round of competition. Barbra and I were eliminated.
As players, we really enjoy the format because it is a totally different challenge. You are put on the court with people you have never played with before and you have about 30 minutes to warm up, figure out your strategies, and try to create some sort of chemistry. It is interesting to see who you play well with and who you do not. It is a great way to end the AVP season.
After being eliminated, we stayed to watch the volleyball all weekend. It was nice to let loose and enjoy ourselves without having to worry about training or the next week's tournament.
I took Saturday and Sunday off, but I am back on the beach Monday morning. I will be traveling to Dubai with Brooke Hanson, my partner from last season, to compete on the FIVB tour. Brooke has missed the entire 2008 AVP season due to a shoulder injury. She has fully recovered and is itching to get back in the sand and compete. We leave on Thursday and will have to compete in the country quota before we can gain entrance into the qualification tournament. I will be blogging from overseas, so be sure to check in.
Have a great week!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
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!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Santa Barbara was really nice. The weather was great. We stayed right across the street from the site, which was fantastically convenient. It was a two day tournament with a 16 team draw size. Only the teams that finished 9th or better would move on to San Francisco.
We won our first match against Romias/Rutledge. We played great at times, but were a little streaky in this match. We had big leads in both games but gave up several points in a row making the match tighter than it should have been.
Next we played Davis/Jordan and lost a heart-breaker. We won the first set 34-32. It was very exciting all around. There were several long, dramatic rallies. The second set, we trailed from the beginning. We lost 17-21. We were neck and neck throughout the third set until the last few points. Davis/Jordan jumped ahead when it counted and got the victory. It was frustrating, but we fought so hard and knew we had to bounce back quickly.
We then played Ivy/Lowe in the contenders bracket. The first set was really close. We led the whole match, but could not break away. We won 24-22. The next set, we made some adjustments and were able to score some points and get a little cushion. We won 21-17.
Our next match was against Mason/Kropp in the stadium. The entire beach is pretty hard-packed, but the stadium was just like playing indoors again. I felt so good during this match. I was jumping and seeing the court really well. We took care of all our opportunities and won 21-13, 21-15. It was a great match for us.
We were finished for the day, sitting in 5th place. We had to come back the next morning and play Boss/Ross to get to the semi-finals.
We finished on the later side so I went back to my hotel to shower quickly before heading to dinner. I was exhausted from the day so I climbed in bed early and fell right to sleep.
The next morning I felt great physically. I was ready to go. We started off pretty well against Boss/Ross, but then they got some confidence in their jump serves and started bombing them. They went after me because I got into some passing trouble. If I passed the ball I would side out, but I was getting eaten alive by their serves. I got aced more than a few times. It was not pretty. We lost 26-28, 18-21. That was the end of our tournament. We finished in 5th place.
I felt better after seeing how well Davis/Jordan and Boss/Ross played against all their opponents. Both teams are playing exceptionally well right now. I was really excited for Davis/Jordan to win the whole tournament. They are wonderful girls and amazing volleyball players.
Next stop, San Francisco -
I left on Tuesday for San Francisco for Cuervo appearances. The Wednesday visits were cancelled so I had a full day in the city with my husband. We used to live there, 7 years ago, so it is really fun for us to go back and visit friends and some of our favorite stomping grounds. It was really cold in the city and I did not pack anything warm so it was a good excuse to go shopping.
Holly arrived on Thursday, so we trained at 5PM. It was incredibly windy. At least the sun was out because when the cloud cover came in, the temperature dropped drastically. We had a short practice and then made our way to dinner.
The next morning, we played at 11:30 against Ivy/Lowe. It was cloudy and very cold. We played in long pants and long sleeve tops. The cold did not get to us. We came out very strong and won 21-14, 21-16.
Next, we played Davis/Jordan again. (For about the 9th time this season!) We played very streaky throughout the weekend. We were either really good or really bad. The first set of this match, we could not buy a side out. Davis/Jordan made one exceptional play after another. It was super frustrating for us. We lost the first set 10-21. We played better in the next set, but not good enough. We lost 18-21. People always ask what is the most embarrassing thing to happen while playing. Well, my most embarrassing moment happened in this match. I jumped up to hit a ball on two just as a gust of wind came up. I swung as hard as I could and completely missed the ball! To add insult to injury, the ball then hit me in the face! I could not believe that it happened. I just wanted to laugh at myself, but no one was laughing! So I just walked back to my spot feeling really stupid and embarrassed. Oh well... Win or lose, that match was the last we would play on Friday. We had to come back Saturday and fight our way back.
We were sitting in 9th place on Friday and needed to win our next match in order to automatically qualify for Manhattan. We faced Roca/Fendrick at 8:30AM Saturday morning.
We arrived at the site around 7:15AM freezing our butts off. We had another battle with this team. We played just okay in this match, but were able to get the victory in 3 tight sets, 23-21, 17-21, 15-12. We survived the "death match" and won our place in the top 8 for Manhattan Beach.
Now with the pressure off, we played the winner of Turner/Wacholder versus Dodd/Minello. Dodd/Minello came out on top after a gruelling three set match. We had some time before the match. We were scheduled at 12:30, but in actuality, we played around 2PM. The sun had come out, but it was still quite chilly.
We started out very strong against Dodd/Minello. We jumped to an early lead and maintained it until the end when we gave up a few points in a row. We won the first set 21-17. The next set was much closer, but we did a good job of staying calm and coming up with big plays when we needed them. We won 23-21. It was a great victory for us. That win put us into 5th place.
We would then have to face Boss/Ross again. We started this match at 5:30PM. The long spacing between matches was difficult on me. The cold weather did not help. We were at the site from 7:15 in the morning and were still playing at 5:30PM. My shoulder was bothering me and I had a hard time warming up. The wind was swirling at this time and was a little unpredictable. We had some serious ball control problems. I was having a hard time giving Holly a good, consistent set that she could put away. We ended up getting smashed by this team. It was frustrating, embarrassing, and disappointing. We lost 11-21, 14-21. Not even close. UGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!
We are back home now preparing for Manhattan Beach. It is warm and sunny and we have finally thawed out from San Francisco! I am so excited for this tournament. It is a huge tournament with the winners taking home $100,000! This is what we have trained for! It all comes down to this weekend! Wish us luck!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Before I recap the Cincinnati event, I thought I would share with you a video that was made at K-Town in Germany. Check it out...
There was a major upset this weekend of our Gold Medallists by our other Olympians, EY and Nicole Branagh. I did not see it, but from the scores it must have been an incredible match. Misty and Kerri had an extremely long win streak and I think it is good for the sport to show that they are not invincible.
All four athletes must be emotionally exhausted after spending three weeks in Beijing. Misty and Kerri have not stopped since winning the gold. They have managed extremely busy schedules since returning. Misty is rehearsing for Dancing with the Stars in addition to everything else. Their stardom has done so much for our sport. Thanks to our "Golden Athletes," the Cincinnati tournament was sold out on Saturday evening and Sunday! That is very exciting news for our sport! Hopefully we can capitalize on this and get all of America excited about beach volleyball and gain some popularity.
Here is how the tournament went for me and Holly:
Coming back from a long three week break is a bit harder than it seems. Instead of the rest and recovery I expected, I battled a nasty bout of food poisoning. We practiced through it but I was a bit of a waste of space. It lasted 5 days and I eventually had to take an antibiotic to get rid of it.
I did not feel my usual self going into the tournament. I had lost 10 pounds and did not have my strength back yet. It is times like this that really make me appreciate my partner. Holly did a great job of helping me through it with good communication and great defense. I found myself struggling through play on Friday, feeling really weak and affected by the extreme heat and humidity.
We won our first match against the Lindquists. Of course, we had a battle with them and won in three sets. We lost the first set after blowing a huge 13-8 lead and giving up 7 points on one side. It was a bit of a wake up call. We played much better after that.
Our next match was in the evening against Boss/Ross. We played under the lights at a near capacity stadium filled with an awesome crowd.
They played really well and took us out of our game. They served tough and got us in a little passing trouble which, in turn, led to siding out problems. We gave up too many points and could not make up any ground. We sort of took a beating.
The next day we had to battle back through the contenders bracket. We played in the afternoon against Roca/Fendrick. We played pretty well. We were able to get points off our defense which is something we are working on. The match went three sets but we controlled the third and won 15-8.
Our next match was an hour later against Fontana/DeNecochea. We played really well and took care of our side whenever we got the chance. We started out 7-0 and eventually got a 10 point lead before giving up a string of points. Thank goodness for that cushion. We won 21-14. The next set was a battle back and forth. We took care of our opportunities and did not give up any points which helped us get the win 21-19. That win secured us in 5th place.
We were finished for Saturday and could rest. We would face the loser of the 9:30 evening match of May-Treanor/Walsh versus Davis/Jordan at 8:30 Sunday morning. Davis/Jordan lost so we faced them for the 5th time this season. Despite getting little sleep, they played us extremely well and won in two sets 21-19, 21-19, ending our Cincinnati tournament run. We finished in 5th place.
Cincinnati was the last qualifying tournament for the Glendale event. We were in a very close race with Fontana/DeNecochea and Dodd/Minello. We actually were trailing both teams going into the tournament, but only by a few points. With our 5th place finish and a win over Fontana/DeNecochea, we moved ahead of both teams and grabbed the final slots for Glendale! I am really excited about that!
We leave tomorrow for Santa Barbara. It will be a 16 team main draw tournament. Only those that finish 9th or higher will continue on to San Francisco where it will be a 12 team main draw. Our goal is to finish the season strong. We want to make a good push now while some people might be feeling the effects of a long season. I am happy to be back in good health and am ready for a great weekend!