Wednesday, 7 June 2023

International Volleyball

High-flying Andy Benesh, Miles Partain capture AVP Huntington Beach title

High-flying Andy Benesh, Miles Partain capture AVP Huntington Beach title

Chaim Schalk attacks against Andy Benesh and Miles Partain/Allen Szto Photography

HUNTINGTON, Calif. – When the time arrived to sign up for their first AVP tournament together, Miles Partain and Andy Benesh jumped at the chance.

Or rather, they jump-set at the opportunity.

Flashing one of the latest worldwide trends, Partain and Benesh used their tricky jump-set, fake hit, fake set and hit and several other beach volleyball permutations to capture the AVP Pro Series Huntington Beach Open on Sunday with a dazzling display.

It was more than enough to score a 20-22, 21-11, 15-12 championship victory over top-seeded Chaim Schalk and Tri Bourne at the Huntington Beach Pier.

Andy Benesh, left, and Miles Partain/Rick Atwood photo

It may be hard to believe that a rookie team can win on the tour, but these guys are now batting 1.000.

“I can believe it because Miles is a very unique talent, we’ve been working very hard in the offseason,” the 6-foot-9 Benesh said. “But he just brings a new style to the beach. It’s really difficult to deal with. I had to deal him last year and the year before and I know what it’s like.”

The 21-year-old Partain can make blockers look silly with his array of jump sets. Benesh likes the system so much, he’s getting into the act himself.

“It’s great,” Partain said. “He’s such a fun player to play with and our coach is awesome so it’s a real dream come true with the environment that was with us so it’s awesome.

“Andy learned a bit. He was already pretty good at it. The jump-setting stuff, he could already do it but he never really tried a lot. He’s been able implement it in high-pressure moments, which is a testament to his ability.”

It’s an attacking system initiated by Poland’s Bartosz Losiak and Piotr Kantor in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Now, it’s a trend that has been taken into orbit by Swedish 21-year-olds David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig.

Partain and Benesh, who already have won on the FIVB Volleyball World tour when they went undefeated to take the 2022 Dubai First Challenge, are ready to take their show on the road again when they resume their schedule in Ostrava, Czech Republic, in a week and a half.

After pushing Schalk and Bourne in the first set, Partain and Benesh changed their strategy for the second, on defense and in the serving game, and the top seeds saw errors begin to creep in.

“I think I didn’t handle it as well as I could have…

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