Saturday, August 24, 2013

Manhattan Beach AVP

The AVP is back! After declaring bankruptcy back in 2010, the AVP was acquired by another group and hosted 2 tournaments in 2012. Now in 2013, the AVP is running 7 tournaments, with the second stop on the tour being in Manhattan Beach!
Theresa and I would have been there watching anyway, but a couple weeks before we received an email asking if we'd be willing to take statistics for the games. Get paid to go watch the AVP? Absolutely! Joining us this year was one of my co-workers Alysa, plus her sister and cousin.

We headed to the beach on Friday to chat with the organizers and refresh ourselves on how to take stats. It was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies. They've set up just south of the Manhattan Beach pier. There's no stadium this year. Instead, we're having a throwback to the 80s with everyone throwing down a towel and sitting beside the court.

The next morning Theresa and I arrived at 8:30am to get our court assignments and set up. Normally for stats, you have two people working per court. One person watches the action on the court and calls it out to the second person who records it. Today though there aren't enough people to do stats, so they gave the more experienced people a court all to themselves. Theresa was placed on the main stadium court where she'll be watching all the top teams with players like Kerri Walsh and Phil Dalhausser. 

I was placed on Court 2 where I'd be watching and keeping stats for all the other top women's teams all day. The weather today is fantastic! It's entirely overcast and it stayed that way the entire day!

Since I'm working alone, I won't have much chance to take pictures of the matches. For the morning I was only able to shoot the warmups. Here Brooke Sweat and Jennifer Fopma, the #3 rated team, today.

So what does an official stats person do? They track each individual player and their attacks, kills, errors, digs, aces, etc. Most points are simple to keep track of. A player receives a serve, then that player gets an attack and a kill. Two quick marks on the paper for an attack and a kill and you're ready to move on to the next point. It can get complicated though when the other team digs the ball and the rally keeps going back and forth. When that happens, there's lots of digs and attacks by lots of different players and you just do your best to keep up.

In what other professional sport can you be right beside the professional athletes you're there to watch? This was my seat all day; 5 feet away from the players box on Court 2. I could hear the teams talking strategy and see their frustrations. It was awesome!

When there were no games going on on my court, I was able to get up and watch the court right beside me where there was a good game going on between April Ross and Jennifer Kessy vs. Kathryn Piening and Sheila Shaw.
Here April Ross is going up for a cut shot against Kathryn Piening.

And after an amazing dig by Jennifer Kessy, April Ross goes for a huge spike.

April Ross going for a giant jump serve.

April Ross blocking Kathryn Piening 

Man do I love beach volleyball. 

Both Sheila and Kathryn trying to get a tight cut shot.

That's a little bit too close. That ball couldn't have landed more than an inch out of bounds.

Playing in the sand is great because you can dive and go all out to dig a ball.

Sheila Shaw passing a hard served ball.

Then going up for a spike.

Following the girls match was a guys match between Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson vs. Theo Brunner and Nick Lucena. Again, I really like the format where people just gather around the court to watch the players play.

The 6'7" Jake Gibb can really elevate. The net is close to 8' high and he's got his shoulders above it.

Jake Gibb putting up a huge block against Nick Lucena.

Casey Patterson putting a ball off the forehead of Theo Brunner.

You know Theo can absolutely crush the ball when you see it deform like this.

Nick Lucena was a jackrabbit covering the back court and picking up dig after dig.

I'm amazed by how many attacks these players were able to pick up. It's inspiring and makes me want to play better.

Being so close to the courts, sometimes the crowd can get into the action. Chasing down a ball Jake Gibb took out a barrier.

After finishing 7 matches on my court, I headed over to the stadium to see Theresa. The main stadium has had match after match all day. T estimates she did stats for 11 matches today.

It was a fun day!

On the main court for the last match of the day we watched Nick Lucena and Theo Brunner play Paul Baxter and Pedro Brazao. I love seeing the Manhattan Beach Pier in the background here.

On Sunday, Theresa and I were back and asked to do stats on Court 1. Having two people to do stats was much easier, especially for the long rallies We watched some great matches between Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal and Matt Fuerbringer and Casey Jennings. Casey was incredible at digging everything that came his way.

So, who won the Manhattan Beach Open? Turns out it was a family affair. In the women's bracket, Kerri Walsh and Whitney Pavlik beat Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat. In the Men's division Kerri's husband Casey Jennings and his partner Matt Fuerbringer defeated Phil Dalhausser and his partner Sean Rosenthal. Each of the winning teams will be getting their name placed on a bronze plaque which will be embedded in the Manhattan Pier.

So at this point, I know that now everyone wants to go watch the AVP when it comes to their city. There's 5 more events all across the US still to be played.

August 31-September 2: Cincinatti, Ohio
September 6 - September 8: Atlantic City, New Jersey
September 14 - September 15: St. Petersburg, Florida
September 28 - September 29: Santa Barbara, California
October 19 - October 20: Huntington Beach, California

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