ANOCH World Beach Games

ANOCH World Beach Games: U.S. Teams Suave-Hawking, Hot-Routing Their Way Into Playoffs

ANOCH World Beach Games

The first step was the suave hawks, because when playing a new sport (four-man beach volleyball), in a country, Qatar, likely more than half the team – Troy Field, Madison and Riley McKibbin, Casey Patterson, Taylor Crabb, Brian Cook – hadn’t been to; in an event, the World Beach Games, that had never been held, one must begin simply. Like with uniform hair cuts.

So Patterson, who has worn and run his hands and flipped his signature Mohawk – dubbed, perhaps by himself, as the suave hawk – broke out the clippers and buzzed the sides of everyone’s hair. Madison McKibbin even got a lightning bolt.

Now, they could play.

Yes, it’s been a whimsical end-of-season tournament for the Americans in Doha this weekend. But it has also been, maybe surprisingly, wildly competitive. Even with a team that includes three players who have won AVP events and five who made a Sunday this year – Cook, returning from an injury, only played in one event, Hawai’i, and made main draw with Sean Rosenthal – they barely cracked pool. The talent level is that high in Doha, particularly with the home team, which includes Qatar’s top duo of Ahmed Tijan and Cherif Samba, currently the No. 13-ranked team in the world.

“Somehow,” Crabb wrote on Instagram, “we broke pool.”

They broke it despite dropping that match to Qatar and another to, as the press release described, “an unknown German team,” though how any four-man team could be known at this point is a curious point of interest. They’d finish pool with a win over Indonesia, breaking pool on points, moving onto the quarterfinals this week.

The women – Allie Wheeler, Katie Spieler, Karissa Cook, Emily Hartong, Geena Urango, Kelly Reeves – needed no such point bail out to break pool. After dropping to top-seeded Brazil, they rebounded with wins over the Czech Republic and Nigeria, moving onto the quarterfinals.

“Moving onto Katie [Spieler],” Kelly Reeves said in an Instagram video, in which she posed as a fantastic mock interviewer for the entire team after a win over Nigeria, “can you explain to the viewers what a hot route is?”

And so she did, detailing that a hot route is, hilariously, a “fast middle attack for a 6’8” human like me. Only I can run a hot route.”

Spieler may be 15 inches short of 6’8” but that doesn’t much matter. She’ll still be running hot routes, and the guys will still be rocking their suave hawks.

They came to finish this season with a bit of fun, possibly a medal. The former has certainly been accomplished, the latter is still in potential.

The men will play Mozambique in the quarterfinals on Monday, while the women will see Canada in the semifinals on Tuesday after beating Vanuatu in the quarters.