Tuesday, 21 March 2023

International Volleyball

Who will win AVP Miami? Thoughts on new Mikasa

Brandie Wilkerson-Melissa Humana-Paredes

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — The Volleyball World season had a soft opener of sorts in February with the Doha Elite 16. But this weekend marks the true season-opener for beach volleyball, as the AVP will begin its 40th anniversary in Miami at the same venue used by King of the Court, the greatest warm-up band there ever was.

Volleyball World, meanwhile, will be running its first Challenge in La Paz, Mexico, where a huge chunk of American talent will be, making Miami quite the wide open affair. All of this season-opening action made for abundant questions on this week’s SANDCAST fan question episode.

Let’s get to it.

Who will win AVP Miami?

A few months ago, after Carly Kan and Jen Keddy both recorded their first AVP wins in Central Florida, we were asked who the next player would be to get their first AVP win. Tri and I both settled on Troy Field, and we were also unanimous in our selection of Brandie Wilkerson for the women.

Miami could take both Field and Wilkerson off the unenviable “best player yet to win an AVP” list.

Bourne, who will be in La Paz instead of Miami, has Field and Phil Dalhausser winning Miami. As much as I love being correct in my prognostications — I would love to see Field win one this year, and I still think he will — I’m going with Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander in Miami. Crabb has won the last three AVP’s he has played — Phoenix, Huntington Beach, Central Florida — and Sander was blocking for him in Phoenix and Huntington, putting him on two straight wins as well. There is, obviously, no discounting Dalhausser. In 2022, he matched Kent Steffes and April Ross as the only player to win an AVP with three separate partners in the same season. But I like the Taylors, who are fresh off a full off-season and have a year’s worth of reps together. As for the women, it’s Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes for both Bourne and me.

Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes in Chicago (Photo/Mpu Dinani)

What are the players’ thoughts on the new Mikasa?

I’ve only used the new Mikasa sparingly, in practices with Terese Cannon and Sarah Sponcil — I can do a mean Katja Stam or Sarah Pavan impression — and Evan Cory and Logan Webber.

Overall, I don’t think there’s a ton of difference.

It’s easier to make pure hand contact, floats a hair less than the other one, and seems to drop more on jump serves, meaning we’re…

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