Film Room Friday: Top 5 men’s matches from San Jose
We’ve poured over the film, watched the matches, watched them again and, alas, have finalized a top-five match list from our inaugural event in San Jose.
While our top-five women’s matches featured upsets, Florida cinderellas, and the powers that be overseas — hello, Canada and Brazil — the men’s is an eclectic mix. There’s our No. 1 match, between Miles Evans and Billy Kolinske and Reid Priddy and Jeremy Casebeer, a three-setter featuring one of the most physical and best-serving teams in the U.S. and another making the push for Tokyo in a decidedly different style of play.
There are matches featuring some of the all-time best American defenders in Sean Rosenthal vs. Casey Jennings and a preview of what might be a regular matchup between the Cold Weather Powers in Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum and Canadians Grant O’Gorman and Ben Saxton.
Our top-five includes, simply, a bit of everything. Enjoy.
These two teams just could not avoid one another. They met at The Hague to begin the year, which Evans-Kolinske won, 21-15, 21-13. They met in a country quota in Portugal, where Evans-Kolinske again prevailed, winning 16-21, 21-15, 15-7. And, of course, they met in San Jose, with Evans-Kolinske one more emerging victorious, pulling it out in three, 21-18, 19-21, 15-10.
There has been exactly one Olympic Games in which beach volleyball was a sport that did not include either Ricardo Santos or Josh Binstock.
That was in 1996.
Since then, Santos has competed in 2000 (winning silver), 2004 (gold), 2008 (bronze) and 2012, while Binstock competed for Canada in the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio Games.
Now Santos is partnered with one of Brazil’s most promising defenders in Alvaro Filho, while Binstock picked up Dave Palm for p1440 San Jose. The result was exactly what you’d expect: a three-set thriller, with Santos-Filho edging out Palm-Binstock, 21-17, 18-21, 22-20.
Almost any match featuring the 2008 Olympic throwback team of Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Martins Plavins could have made this list. They still own, after all, the biggest upset in Olympic beach volleyball history when they stunned Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers in the first match of pool play.
Ten years later, they reunited for San Jose, as Edgars Tocs, Plavins’ usual partner, was out, as was Janis Smedins, the southpaw typically partnered with Samoilovs. The reunion would go exceptionally well, culminating in a victory over Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum.
However, it began a bit rocky, with Austrian Olympian Alexander Huber and South African Leo Williams nearly shocking the Latvians, pushing them to 18-16 in the third set. The thrill of a potential upset, coupled with Latvia’s partnership reunion, put this match in the top-five.
Sixty times — discluding the AVP Hot Winter Nights series — Casey Jennings and Sean Rosenthal had matched up against one another in their storied careers, both of which have included Manhattan Beach titles and international success.
And the 61st lived up to the billing, just as the vast majority of their previous bouts had. Rosenthal, who hadn’t, and still has not, stepped away from the game, came in partnered with rookie Chase Budinger, the former NBA star-turned-AVP Rookie of the Year. Jennings came in with old friend and Brazilian dynamo Pedro Solberg.
Two American defensive legends, one multi-sport star, one Brazilian Olympian — and one excellent match. In the end, Jennings would win, 21-19, 23-21.
As for the series? It’s Rosenthal with 31 wins, Jennings with 30.
Perhaps Match No. 62 could even the scoreboard. Until then, enjoy this phenomenal match from San Jose.
Was this the best match in terms of wondering who would pull it out at the last minute? No, not necessarily. But there’s still something awfully intriguing about seeing top teams from two countries compete against one another in what could very well be a preview of a clash to come in the Tokyo Olympics.
Both Anders Mol and Christian Sorum and Grant O’Gorman and Ben Saxton were, at one point this year, in the qualifiers. By season’s end, Mol and Sorum compiled one of the best international seasons in the history of beach volleyball, while O’Gorman and Saxton supplanted Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter as Canada’s No. 1 team.
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