Friday, August 14, 2015

2015 AVP Manhattan Beach Open

The AVP is in town! One of my favorite sports to play and watch is beach volleyball! It's awesome getting to head to the beach on this weekend and watching the pros show us how the game is meant to be played.
T's has family in town and they love volleyball too. All of us piled into the car and headed to Manhattan Beach. Even though we were there fairly early, parking was hard to come by. Eventually we found a spot, then all walked down Manhattan Beach Boulevard towards the beach.

The street is blocked off as you get closer. Looking down the main road towards the pier.

There are tickets you can purchase to guarantee you a seat at the main stadium during the big matches, but otherwise this event is completely free and open to the public!

Besides the stadium court, there's another 10 courts that are constantly playing matches. Courts 1 and 2 are right beside each other and will have top teams constantly playing on them all day.

The Manhattan Beach Open. Started in 1960, it's the longest continually running beach volleyball tournament. Winners will have their names immortalized on a plaque on the pier. Because it's an open, amateurs are allowed to play and qualify for a chance to play along the professionals.

Today we came prepared. Beach chairs, towels, and most importantly, an umbrella. We made camp right beside Court 2.

To our right is the Manhattan Pier.

And right in front of us are some great volleyball teams.

I wonder how often they slap hands above the net.

After watching the first match, I started wandering to see what else was going on. There's lots of great games taking place all over this morning.

Check out who is doing statistics. Alysa and Amanda, my co-worker and her sister. You might have seen them back when we went to the World Series of Volleyball last year.

The stadium court has huge stands surrounding it, but I actually don't prefer to set up here on the first couple days of the tournament. Because they're constantly switching between Men's and Women's games, they're constantly adjusting the net height, adding another 20-30 minute wait between games. On the outer courts it's game after game.

But on the stadium court you will see top players like Phil Dalhausser, who won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics and is currently ranked #5 on the AVP tour. His partner Nick Lucena is ranked #3.

Curious to figure out who's leading, or who is playing on what court at what time? Check the leaderboard beside Stadium court.

There's lots of great companies here supporting the AVP, giving out samples and coupons. McDonalds was handing out samples of strawberry lemonade, Starbucks sampling frappuccinos, a company handing out boxed water (instead of plastic bottles), and more.

My favorite though was the tent. They're giving out lip balm and honey straws! Mmm!

Back over to court 1 to watch the #1 ranked players and #1 seeded team Casey Patterson and his partner Jake Gibb.

Jake Gibb.

And during breaks in the action, the women's court has a match going on right beside us.

Ian enjoyed the shade and watching the next team warm up.

The #2 seeded team Ryan Doherty and his partner John Mayer played here next.
Ryan Doherty is the tallest player on the tour right now, pushing 7' in height.

The men's net is set to 8 feet tall (really 7' 11 5/8"). He's blocking this ball with his armpits.

And when he goes for a spike, his shoulders are higher than the net. Wow.

One thing I love about volleyball is how close you can get to the action.

Here's a few more shots I took throughout the day.

Ty and Ethan found a good perch from the pier.

Not too bad at all.

Nicole Branagh laying out for a long ball.

And coming up looking like a churro.

Check out how deformed the ball gets on the block.

I like how you can get some shots on the stadium court with the giant volleyball in the background.

Just bouncing the line.

Whoa. Check out the muscles on Lisa Howard.

Our very last match we're sticking around for today is Casey Jennings/Billy Kolinske vs Drost/Marchewka.

Casey Jennings is always fun to watch play, and he really interacts with the crowd. He's also got a good luck ritual where het tosses the ball back and forth to someone before he serves. Today he picked Ethan. Before the match, he asked Ethan if he'd be there for the whole game, and if he could do him a favor and stay right there the entire time.

Casey asked Ethan's name during warmups and was chatting the whole game, even pointing him out to other people.
"This is Ethan. He's a good bird."

Ethan stood there the whole match, even when the other team backed right up to the barrier to serve.

When he wasn't watching the volleyball (which was most of the time), Ian enjoyed his shovel and pail.

Mommy, I brought you sand!

 Throughout the game, Ethan and Casey tossed the ball back and forth.

It was a tight match, but Jennings/Kolinske won it in 3 games.

After the game, Casey came over to say a special thanks to Ethan.

And even gave him his game hat. Wow! Awesome!
As soon as he did it, someone nearby yelled "I'll give you $100 for that hat!" Casey looked at the guy,  pointed at Ethan, and said "Talk to him."

Nope, he's keeping it.

And after grabbing a sharpie got Casey to sign it.

It's 3:30pm. We've been here for 6 hours and our parking meter is expiring soon. Time to head out. With all the excitement, Ian missed his noon nap. On the 1/4 mile walk back to the car, he enjoyed his honey straw, making sure to share it with his Uncle Tyler (on his hair, his glasses, and his clothes).
After getting back to the car and getting strapped in, Ian was asleep before I put the car in reverse to back out of the parking spot.

It was a beautiful day to be on the beach and a beautiful day for beach volleyball.

There's a couple more volleyball events coming up soon if you're in the area.
First, in Long Beach is the World Series of Beach Volleyball from August 18th-23rd. General Admission is free!
And in Huntington Beach from September 11-13, the AVP is back for the final event of the season!

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