A few notes about our 2023 VolleyballMag AVP Awards:
- The awards are subjective, as awards go, and we enjoy debating them. There was no polling process. The awards were decided on a mixture of stats, finishes, and film from tournaments throughout the 2023 AVP season.
- We did not take into account Tour Series events, except for Rookie of the Year and Most Improved.
HERMOSA BEACH, California — One of the most reliable ways to determine how elite a team is, across the spectrum of sports, is not to review a championship run, or to look under the statistical hood and discover any number of gaudy metrics.
It’s to see how a fanbase and critics respond when they lose.
When Andy Benesh and Miles Partain fell in the finals of the AVP Chicago Gold Series to Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner, the reaction in Hermosa Beach, site of the Labor Day Calcutta, was a mix of shock and obituaries being orated.
Most couldn’t believe it.
The Chosen Ones, the team which would soon head to Paris for an Elite16, seeded No. 1 in the world, lost to a team who, on the world stage, had been, at that point, decidedly mediocre for most of 2023.
The dialogue featured comments on how the AVP teams had figured out Benesh and Partain, how the matchups favored their style on the Beach Pro Tour but not the AVP; how Benesh and Partain “won’t be doing well domestically because it has nothing to offer them.” In a single, 51-minute match — a finals no less — Benesh and Partain, the highest-ranking USA team, were all but written off by a startling number of fans.
Those following Chicago seemed to forget that in three AVP tournaments this season, Benesh and Partain made three finals, won two tournaments, and went 14-2. They had the highest winning percentage (.875) and tied Crabb and Brunner, and Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander for the most wins (2) despite playing two less tournaments than the former and four fewer than the latter. Their only losses came to teams seeded No. 1 (Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk in Huntington Beach, a loss they avenged in the finals) and No. 2 (Crabb and Brunner in Chicago).
By any objective or subjective measure, they were the best team on the AVP in 2023.
Which is why Andy Benesh and Miles Partain are the 2023 AVP Team of the Year.
Taylor Crabb, Taylor Sander
Trevor Crabb, Theo Brunner
Tri Bourne, Chaim Schalk