It’s hard to know where to start when looking back over the 2013 season, there was just so….much. There was so much I have no idea how to fit it all in- that’s partly what I get for not regularly updating my blog during season…but nonetheless, now I feel I have to condense everything I want to say so that it fits under a singular topic. Therefore, I’ve decided to share with you just my favorite parts of this past season and thankfully there are enough to fill what narrowly passes for a blog
In (mostly) chronological order:
- Being the centerfold of Dig! Thanks Sherry Wong for taking my favorite photo ever!
- I got to go to a new country! After years of going to the same (for the most part, great) locations for our World Tour stops, they added a stop in Argentina this year! I thought it was a great addition and the fans made it even better. They definitely gave Cali fans a run for their money, I felt like I was at a futbol match with how loud and enthusiastic they were. The people there, in general, were so welcoming, friendly, and warm, I really hope it becomes a mainstay on our schedule.
- The epic international Ace game we had in The Hague, Netherlands (Ace is a six on six fun sand vball game we often play after tournaments)- I ripped my jeans, people got punched in the face (by other people trying to hit the ball), we had standing jousts that lasted minutes, and more sky balls than you could count. Then I did the worm and busted my chin open, don’t worry, it didn’t stop me.
- Getting to the finals in Rome! Currently my favorite tour stop, I love playing (and just being) there. The coffee, the food, the sights, it’s amazing. The arena we play in is surrounded by marble Zeus-like statues, the weather is usually great, and we can hang out at the “club house” all day and watch other teams play. It was the first WT final we got to this year and after losing in the semis in Argentina it felt great.
- Playing with Whit in World Champs. This is a hard one because it was a final goal of mine and Jen’s to win this tournament, but she was sidelined so I had to pick up someone else to play with. I had so much fun playing with Whit, I feel like we played really well together, and it was awesome finally getting to battle with her on the same side of the net (as we’ve been friends for so long, but never played in a pro tournament together). We made it to the semis and lost, I still regret that match, I don’t feel like I was mentally prepared enough and that’s my own fault. Still, it was a good finish for a team playing together for the first time AND at World Championships. The player party was just the frosting on the cake, dance circles and pogoing all night, the Polish really know how to get down (proud to say I’m 25% Polish).
- Beating the top ranked Talita and Tiana of Brazil in the finals of the World Series of Beach Volleyball held in Long Beach with Jen. Our family and friends were finally able to watch us at an International event so it felt even better to win. It was the first annual for the event so we’ll be expected to defend the title next year, can’t wait!
- Signing a partnership deal with Mizuno! And before you think I’m obligated to write this, I’m really not. I am so stoked to be apart of their transition into beach volleyball. I love how they see the future and have invested in this side of the sport. Beach volleyball is just going to continue to grow with the adoption of Sand as a NCAA sport and the quickly exploding sand club programs. They have great beach stuff so buy Mizuno to support your sport!! If you’re interested in getting involved in sand here’s some info on clinics & tryouts in Orange County: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OC-Sand-Volleyball-Club/1421570491390722o
- Going back to Berlin. We did terrible in that event, but I love that city so much it was still so fun being there. And Smart Car hosted another epic player party that involved trust falls, sliding across the dance floor slip & slide style, and dancing with life-size cardboard cut outs of Phil.
- The reemergence of the AVP!! We had seven AVP tournaments this year and they were all run professionally, with great fans, in great locations. Jen and I won the first one in Salt Lake City, UT after falling into the contender’s bracket early and fighting our way back to and through the finals. I was extremely exhausted afterwards, but it was the best kind of exhaustion. We also won in Atlantic City, NJ and split the win in St. Pete, FL after a gnarly storm forced us to cancel the final.
- Playing with Kerri. We officially teamed up in late October for the Santa Barbara Open through the rest of the season. It has been so much fun being on the same side of the net as her, and I’ve been really surprised at how similar our attitudes and playing styles are. She definitely motivates me to go harder and get better, in the best way. I’m really looking forward to preseason, it’s going to be super tough, but I think it’ll be really good for me, and us.
- Winning back to back Grand Slam titles!! The first in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the second in Xiamen, China.
- Sao Paulo was a super tough tournament, we managed to come out first in pool, but we went to three in almost all of our matches including the semi and final. The final was one of the hardest fought matches I’ve ever played. Germany had nine match points against us and we fought off all of them- in overtime, finally managing to win that set to force a third. We were able to hold on to the momentum and win the match. It was amazing to stand on the top of that podium, listen to the National Anthem, and watch the American flag fly the highest.
- Xiamen was also tough, we had the added element of gnarly wind to contend with there. We played pretty terrible in our match against Italy 1, losing in two to come out second in pool. If you come out first you get a bye in the first round of playoffs, going straight to ninth, since we came out second we had to play to stay alive. We drew Argentina, and they gave us everything they had. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team serve tougher than they did, and they constantly kept us on our toes doing things that we didn’t expect, like pulling on perfect sets and setting the ball over on two. Thankfully some of our USA teammates were there supporting us and I really think that made the difference (thanks Jake & Casey!). We were able to win 16-14 in the third and from there we adjusted, played better wind ball, won the rest of our matches, and took the final against Talita and Tiana for the Gold.
- The Hilton HHonors Hawaii Beach Challenge. This second annual edition was a great cap to season, this year both China and Canada were invited, we did a round robin plus semis and finals. It was super fun getting to hang out with some of the people we compete against all year and we were in Hawaii which never sucks. I can’t tell you how it ended up because it has yet to air. Men’s matches air Dec. 2 & 3, and ours will air on Dec. 14th on NBC Sports Network, so watch to find out the results!!
- It’s been a personal career goal of mine to be voted MVP of the AVP and I feel semi-shallow admitting that, but it’s the truth. So I was really honored and excited to have been named the MVP this year. I am also really thankful that Jen and I were named Team of the Year on the AVP, it is a really great honor for what was our last season together. If you want to see the rest of the awards given out, check out the AVP’s webite: http://avp.com/news-blog/1415-avp-recognizes-top-performers-as-tour-announces-2013-year-end-award-winners-2
Hope you enjoyed reading about all the great moments because I had an amazing time living them