San Jose Invitational

Kolinske and Evans Excited for San Jose

Kolinske and Evans

Hours before the first international tournament of Billy Kolinske’s and Miles Evans’ new partnership, they didn’t have anything to wear. They’d been properly packed, mind you. They were sure of it. Their board shorts had been right there in their luggage. Problem was: Where was the luggage? Well, perhaps the more important query was: Where wasn’t their luggage?

Agadir, Morocco.

This was July of 2017, the beginning of an overseas odyssey that has taken Kolinske and Evans around the world and back again several times over. It had been a 25-hour travel day from Los Angeles to Agadir for the one-star FIVB event, though it had been a 73-hour trip for their luggage, which arrived at the eleventh hour, just in time for them to throw them on for their first-round matchup against France’s Quincy Aye and Youssef Krou. Not that it mattered much. Kolinske and Evans lost in 28 minutes in a single elimination format, 15-21, 15-21. They went home. Aye and Krou wound up winning the tournament. Welcome to the FIVB Tour, boys.

“It’s a lot more than just playing volleyball,” Kolinske said of international travel, laughing. So much of it is just trying to stay up on the time that you’re going to. Morocco, we got there and it was noon but we were so tired and we were supposed to stay up to the night and be on their schedule but there was just no way.”

In a little less than a month, when the p1440 season begins in San Jose on September 28, there will be no 25-hour travel day, no threat of tardy board shorts, no potential of jet lag screwing with their sleep schedule, no single elimination to send them back home sulking.

Just volleyball, and the new tour, or event series, they’ve been waiting to play for more than a year.

“We’re most looking forward to a tournament where we don’t have to travel 15 hours to get there,” Kolinske said, laughing. “This hour or hour and a half flight to San Jose won’t be too bad. We’ve kinda been anticipating this for a while. When the whole thing went down with the [AVP] contract, we kinda just waited and saw what happened and it was really cool to be a part of building p1440, being players who can help promote it. It’s been a lot of fun and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

Indeed, and in a fateful way, their world travels have been the ideal preparation for p1440, which will be played with the FIVB ball, the Mikasa, and feature many of the same top-flight international teams Kolinske and Evans have been playing against since the mishap in Morocco.

“I think it’s awesome,” Kolinske said. “I’m definitely excited to play against those guys, so it’s good, I feel like that’s the best way to learn is to play against them first hand. I feel like you can put people on a pedestal and then you play them and it’s OK, we can play with them.’ You can always train against better players and you’re going to get better a lot faster. I’m glad they’re bringing in the best in the world and that’s my goal, to get as good as I can.”

The investment is already paying in dividends. Kolinske and Evans are now automatically into the three-star FIVBs and safely into the qualifiers for the four-stars. It has not, of course, come without risk, the possibility of losing, and losing a lot.

Thus far in the 2018 season, they have played in 15 FIVBs and been to, by Kolinske’s estimation, though forgive him if the count is off by one or two – it has been a long and winding year – 15 different countries. They’ve been to China and the Netherlands, Australia and Iran, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, Portugal and Japan. They’ve finished on podiums one week and been bounced in a single qualifying round the next. They’ve both won and lost thousands.

Through it all, they’ve continued to follow the plan.

“I figured we’d have to invest around $10,000,” Kolinske said of a season on the world tour. “We’d start with one- and two-stars, because the only way we can get a chance to play the top players, which is what we want to do, is get some points and slowly work our way up. I was like ‘Yeah we’re going to have to take a hit, and we’ll make it up.’

“It’s been cool. I never pictured myself traveling this much in my life, let alone in a single year.”

They’ll continue to travel, though the prospect of alas playing on home soil once again is a delicious one. They’ll hit p1440 stops in San Jose, Las Vegas, San Diego and Huntington Beach, mixing in a four-star in China, a NORCECA qualifier worth triple the points in August, and wherever else the FIVB schedule will take them when it’s announced.

“We’re planning on doing all those,” Kolinske said, “and keep rolling.”