AVP Seattle

AVP Seattle: Myriad Teams Bounce Back After Narrow Misses in New York


“It feels,” Kim Smith said, walking off the court, smile wide as a cantaloupe, “like forever since I’ve qualified.”

And essentially all seven other females, and eight other males on Thursday afternoon could say the same.

Thursday’s qualifier for AVP Sammamish was, predictably, an upset-filled, topsy-turvy, mercurial affair. One so unpredictable that Smith, alongside Lara Dykstra, was the only women’s team to hold their seed at No. 4. The one, two and three were all felled at some point or other on Thursday.

The qualifier had struck again. And it struck early, particularly on the women’s side. Teams seeded – and seeds, at this point, mean almost nothing, with so many college teams coming out with little to no AVP points to their name – 48, 41, 44, 36, 43 and 38 all scored first round wins over teams seeded a combined 110 spots higher.

That was the first round alone.

The 38, Florida State’s Alaina Chacon – watch her play, if you get the chance — and Katie Horton then very nearly stunned Sheila Shaw and Mackenzie Ponnet, winning the first set 21-15 before dropping the next two, 17-21, 11-15. Shaw and Ponnet would go on to win their next two, making main draw which, similar to Smith, likely felt like it had been “forever,” even though it had been just one event since their previous main draws.

And that, more than anything, seemed to be the theme of the qualifier: Teams bouncing back from the gauntlet of New York.

Delaney Knudsen and Emily Hartong fell in the third round of the New York qualifier to Kim Hildreth and Sarah Schermerhorn but came back to upset top-seeded Falyn Fonoimoana and Pri Lima to qualify in Seattle.

Brittany Tiegs and Molly Turner, too, were knocked out from both the Austin and New York qualifiers only to put together a last-second partnership, grind through a wild first round match against Sammee Thomas and Danielle Barton-Drews, 21-23, 22-20, 19-17, to make main draw.

“Tune into Amazon Prime to watch some unorthodox madness,” Tiegs wrote on Instagram afterwards.

Hey, weird, unorthodox, team tiny — whatever works.

Raffe Paulis can attest to that. He and David Lee led Avery Drost and Miles Evans, 14-7, at the freeze in the third set of the final round before Drost and Evans earned, and earned, and earned, and then suddenly it was 15-14 Drost and Evans.

Then Lee did what Lee does, picking up three blocks to seal Paulis’ first main draw since Huntington Beach and Lee’s first of the season.

In fact, the only team, men’s or women’s, to have made back-to-back main draws in New York and Seattle out of the qualifier is the torrid Paul Lotman and Gabe Ospina. In a severe case of déjà vu, they, again, met Logan Webber and Mike Boag in the final round and, again, it was a lengthy one.

In New York, Lotman and Ospina won the first set, 34-22. In Seattle, it was 31-29. Both times, Lotman and Ospina didn’t need the extra points to close it out, making their third consecutive main draw.

In a way, this was also the third consecutive main draw for Kyle Friend and Duncan Budinger, though, as a team, they took off of New York after Friend competed in a NORCECA in La Paz, Mexico. They made it through a pair of three-setters, against Kris Johnson and Chris Austin and Marcus and Miles Partain to shore up their third main draw of the season and put them in a position to be automatic main draw up through Hawai’i.

“This sport,” Friend said, “is fun.”

Plain and simple, as it was for Lev Priima and Jake Landel on Thursday, who made, as a team, their first main draw of the year after a narrow miss in New York.

But such was the theme on Thursday: The narrow-misses this season finally hit. Only two combined teams held their seeds to make main draw which is to say: It was a typical Thursday qualifier indeed.