Sunday, 10 December 2023

International Volleyball

Year of the TKN Takeover

Another battle with the Canadians, another AVP Chicago gold for Kloth-Nuss

Kristen Nuss, right, gives a celebratory drink to Taryn Kloth/Rick Atwood photo

A few notes about our VolleyballMag 2023 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.
  • To qualify for a 2023 AVP Award, a player must have competed in 10 main draw matches in Pro or Gold Series events. 

Previously: The 2023 AVP men’s award story

HERMOSA BEACH, California — There was little incentive for fans of women’s beach volleyball to leave the USA this summer. Why catch a 10-plus-hour flight and pay thousands of dollars to hit Gstaad or Ostrava or Doha when you could just go to New Orleans or Huntington Beach or Atlanta or Chicago and see five teams ranked in the top 10 in the world battle it out at home instead?

Indeed, this season presented an embarrassment of riches in women’s beach volleyball on the AVP Tour, a trend that will only continue as the talent factory that is the NCAA churns out one precocious prospect after another. That embarrassment of riches presented an intriguing question this season on the AVP: Who was the best team in America?

It’s a question that really hasn’t needed asking since the turn of the 21st century, for there was Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, then Walsh Jennings and April Ross, then Ross and Alix Klineman — one dominant dynamo after the next. But with both Ross and Klineman out for the 2023 season with babies on the way, it left a gulf, and a question to be answered: Who would take the mantle?

For months, nobody could be quite sure.

Still, more than seven months after the first serve, there is no definitive answer.

Brandie Wilkerson won the first AVP of her career in Miami alongside her new partner, Melissa Humana-Paredes. Perhaps, armed with Wilkerson’s new jump serve, the Canadians were the standard-bearer.

Then Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes won back to back titles, in New Orleans and Huntington Beach, recording wins over both Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson and Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth.

They wouldn’t win again.

Neither would Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson.

The final two tournaments in which every top team played — Atlanta and Chicago, both Gold Series events — went the way of Nuss and Kloth. They…

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