AVP Hermosa Beach

AVP Hermosa: It’s a Good Day To Be a Low Seed

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Walking home from the Hermosa Beach Pier on Thursday evening, just after the havoc of the qualifier had settled and the 16 teams who had made it through were taking pictures and jumping in the ocean and doing all the things that qualifier winners should do, I ran into Ed Keller.

If you live in Southern California, you know Ed. He’s the guy on 16th street, a volleyball nerd’s volleyball nerd. He knows everything, spends a lot of time with Sean Rosenthal, Chase Budinger, Casey Patterson. Simply put: The guy knows volleyball.

Which is why it’s so credible when a man like Keller says, as he did on Thursday evening, that tournaments like AVP Hermosa, where a few of the top teams are missing, off to Tokyo for an FIVB Four-Star and Olympic test event, are the best to watch.

It seems odd, at first blush, but when you think about it for a second, it really isn’t. When those top teams – Phil Dalhausser-Nick Lucena, Tri Bourne-Trevor Crabb, Taylor Crabb-Jake Gibb, Reid Priddy-Theo Brunner; April Ross-Alix Klineman, Kelley Larsen-Emily Stockman, Kelly Claes-Sarah Sponcil, Kerri Walsh Jennings-Brooke Sweat – are off on the world tour, it paves the way for new matchups, new results, new intrigue.

In short: It ups the odds of upsets.

And on Friday in Hermosa Beach, boy, were there some upsets.

For one of the first times, maybe ever, it was a good day to be a low seed. It took just a few hours for the one seed, Troy Field and Tim Bomgren, to go down, felled by David Lee and Sean Rosenthal in an auspicious start to the partnership. Prior to that, though, the 12 seed, Skylar del Sol and Bruno Amorim, went down to the 21, qualifiers Chris Vaughan and Jake Rosener. The 14, Raffe Paulis and Curt Toppel, were sent to the contenders early by 19th-seeded Travis Mewhirter and Myles Muagututia. The 18, Dylan Maarek and Dave Palm, beat fellow qualifiers DR Vander Meer and Logan Webber.

Then the upsets really began.

That 18 seed? Sent the most recent champs, Chaim Schalk and Jeremy Casebeer, to the long road early, with Palm putting on one of the most impressive blocking displays of the day, 21-18, 21-17.

They’ve got high-seeded company down there, though, with fourth-seeded Adam Roberts and Andy Benesh stunning Billy Allen and Stafford Slick, 23-21, 18-21, 15-11.  

But no, no, no. All of those are excellent storylines. Phenomenal, really. The story of the day, however, goes to youngsters Delaynie Maple and Megan Kraft. Just 17 and 16 years old, respectively, they made main draw via an AVP Next series. And then they proved they deserved every bit of that wild card, upsetting Emily Hartong and Geena Urango, Brittany Howard and Alexa Strange, and capped it off with a 21-18, 21-11 convincing win over third-seeded Amanda Dowdy and Corinne Quiggle.

They had, remarkably, zero drama involved in any of those wins, quite the different path taken by qualifiers and 18th-seeded Sheila Shaw and Mackenzie Ponnet. Three times in yesterday’s qualifier, they dropped the first set. Three times they won.

On Friday, why not more of the same? After winning their first, over Tory Paranagua and Jessica Sykora, 21-17, 21-15, they dropped their first set again, against second-seeded Terese Cannon and Irene Pollock, 15-21.

Then they did that thing they do, winning the next two, 21-17, 15-6. Their final win of the day, which was the final match of the day, came against Caitlin Ledoux and Allie Wheeler, the seven-seed.

That came smoother, too, a 21-18, 21-15 win to cap the day. A wonderful day. A day of upsets. A day where the women’s two-seed is out, as is the six, and the nine, and the 11. What’s left is the opportunity for more upsets.

More beach volleyball.

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