Saturday, 25 March 2023

International Volleyball

Wilkerson wins first career AVP; Taylors fine winning ugly

Wilkerson wins first career AVP; Taylors fine winning ugly

A few months ago, Brandie Wilkerson declared to her new assistant coach, Dan Waineraich, that she couldn’t jump serve. She’d tried. She’d missed. Just wasn’t for her. Waineraich, a Brazilian who currently assists for Marcio Sicoli at Pepperdine and formerly assisted for Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, would have none of it.

Keep jump serving, he implored. It’ll come, and when it does, the world might not be ready for it.

And so she did.

What a fitting end it was, then, when her first AVP victory would come on a jump serve ace down the line of Julia Scoles, sealing a 21-16, 24-22 victory over Scoles and Betsi Flint in AVP Miami, Wilkerson’s first on Tour.

Melissa Humana-Paredes jumps into the arms of Brandie Wilkerson/Rick Atwood photo

“I’m very lucky to have a teammate and a coach that just said go for it,” Wilkerson said. “When I get the green light I’m going to go for it.”

That green light resulted in nine aces for the weekend for Wilkerson, tied for fifth in the tournament (Flint, wielder of one of the meanest float serves in the world, led all players with 14). And if she wasn’t earning points via ace, she was liable to do so at the net, where she blocked 19 attacks, leading the field and making a strong debut to defend her 2022 AVP Blocker of the Year nod.

“I have her on my side now?” Humana-Paredes said back in January. “Thank God!”

The same could be said from Wilkerson as well, as it was Humana-Paredes who led the tournament in digs with 92. In three tournaments this year, they’ve made quite the argument as perhaps the best defensive team in the world. They’ve won two of those tournaments, their worst finish being a fifth in February’s Elite 16 in Doha, Qatar. Last week, they were crowned the Queens of the Court when they won six of nine rounds and thoroughly dominated the field in the finals, proving that, oh yes, this team is quite capable on offense, too.

“I remember having conversations in Chicago about how Brandie was more introverted or reserved in university and she’s evolving away from that, and I was more extroverted and now I’m evolving away from that, to be more introverted and more of a homebody,” Humana-Paredes said in January. “We’re different in those respects and it’s been interesting to see how we’ve evolved away from that and how we can support each other and observe that in a really respectful and caring way.”

Be it Humana-Paredes supporting…

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