Updates from San Jose

San Jose Qualifier Features Familiar Names, New Positions

Hermosa Beach, CA
Credit: Robert Beck

So much was different. So much was the same. It was still volleyball. It was still a qualifier. Which is to say: It was yet another high-intensity, high-nerve, high-octane Thursday in San Jose for p1440’s debut event in San Jose.

“It’s still a qualifier,” said Paul Araiza, who qualified with Travis Mewhirter. “Still feel the same nerves. It’s more – I would call it more anxiety or feeling anxious just to play. It’s not necessarily nervous to play, you just want to get it over with. You want to go through it. That’s the hard part, and that could be any tournament when you’re playing in a qualifier.”

Doesn’t matter if it’s p1440 or AVP or FIVB – a qualifier is still a qualifier, no matter the name that precedes it. There were, it’s important to note, a number of distinct differences, the first being the presence of satellite qualifiers.

Prior to the on-site qualifier at Avaya Stadium, home to the San Jose Earthquakes, there were two satellite qualifiers in Florida, run by Tampa Bay Beach Bums, and Zuma, run by the CBVA. With four teams from each gender making it through between the two satellite qualifiers, and six coming through the on-site qualifier, it made for a number of intriguing matchups, and familiar names back in the main draw.

Among them is young Miles Partain, all of 16 years old, making his second career main draw – the first was at AVP Hermosa of 2017, with his brother Marcus – this one with Paul Lotman.

“It’s really cool, just a great feeling to know I can play more volleyball the next day, and it’s the fact that it’s basically free, which is awesome,” said Partain, who’s committed to play indoors for UCLA. And indeed, Partain can’t accept the four figures of prize money already in his name, though he can, he admitted, expense the trip, a nice bonus for a high school junior.

On Friday, that high school junior could very well have a crack at the best in the world, as Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum, who swept the final three major tournaments of the FIVB season, await, as do Spaniards Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira, as well as Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Martins Plavins.

“It’s awesome getting to play them,” Partain said. “I’d be stoked to play against one of the top teams. I watch them on YouTube all the time so it’d be pretty cool to play against them. It’s nice to have a mix of both.”

Others making it through the men’s qualifier were Marty Lorenz and Raffe Paulis, Andrew Dentler and Dylan Maarek, Austrian Olympian Alex Huber and Leo Williams, and Bobby Jacobs and Kyle Friend, who took his first crack at defense after playing a full season with Myles Muagututia as a blocker.

“It’s nice to have a big blocker up there, and this was our first tournament together playing, just figuring out each other, how to push him and how he can push me,” said Friend, who made main draws New York, Hermosa Beach and Chicago this year. “I think for this first day it was nice to see a little adversity. We won our first set [of the final round] 21-14 and the second set was a lot closer, it was 15-11, then down 20-18, and we ended up winning. It was good for us, a little adversity, a couple mistakes, and it was good to see how we responded.

“It’s fun for me playing defense. It’s a whole new beast. I’m learning. I’m learning a ton. This was super fun, I’m excited to see this event and see how it all plays out, just to experience all of this.”