Setter Maja Ognjenović Rejoins Serbia


After a 2 year break with the national team, Maja Ognjenović is back and will rejoin the team next week.

Coach Zoran Terzic confirms the return of his beloved setter who led Serbia to a silver medal 2 years ago at the 2016 Olympics.

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‘We have talked and we have reached an agreement. She will be on the list for the World Championship and I expect her on July 23rd when we start with the preparations. There is no need to say her quality of play and how great of a person she is. Her experience is huge and I’m sure that the other girls will be thrilled with his return.”

With Maja’s return, we wonder who is going to cut – Ana Antonijevic or Bojana Zivkovic? These 2 setters competed at the VNL with a disappointing finish: 5th place.

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In case you forgot, Maja last played for Serbia in 2016 at theh Rio Olympics but she still plays as an her professional athlete since then with Eczacibasi VitrA. The 34 year old has signed on to play for Russian club team Dinamo Moscow this coming season.

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Jaqueline Carvalho Announces NT Retirement


We bet some of her fans are still NOT over it.

After 18 SUCCESSFUL years with the national team which includes 2 Olympic gold medals and several World Grand Prix crowns, outside hitter and one of the world’s most famous volleyball players, Jaqueline Carvalgo, has announced she has retired from the national team.

She shared the official news yesterday on her IG account.


Amores, após pensar muito, decidi me dedicar neste momento a novos projetos, e a minha Família. Quero acompanhar o meu pequeno – que está crescendo rápido – mais de pertinho.☺️
Foram 18 anos na Seleção Brasileira🇧🇷 de muito amor e dedicação, que me renderam muitas histórias, alegrias e amizades que levarei para toda a vida.

Agradeço a toda equipe e comissão técnica pelos anos de apoio, carinho e profissionalismo. E claro, a torcida brasileira e todos os meus fãs, que sempre me acompanharam! Agradeço a Deus por toda oportunidade e carinho que vcs tem por mim…❤️ tudo que pude fazer eu fiz com muito amor!
Hoje conto com detalhes esta decisão em bate-papo com a querida @MariPalma no Globo Esporte. Não percam.

Em breve novidades.

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We really thought she’d try to fight for a spot and join the Brazilian team at the World Championship in October but we were wrong. Her last trip with the national team was at the Final Round of the 2018 VNL in China.

Hopefully, she will continue her professional career so we could still her playing the sport that brought her to us and to the rest of the world.

Jaque, you’re making us SAD but we’re also very excited to see you enter a new chapter in your life with your family.

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FIVB Gstaad: Six American teams alive in playoff rounds


When the sand settled Thursday, four USA teams — two men’s and two women’s — advanced to Friday’s second round of FIVB Gstaad and two more pairs were in the first round.

Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb were off Thursday after winning their pool and earning a bye, while Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena eliminated fellow Americans Theo Brunner and John Hyden (21-12, 21-14) to reach the second round. Hyden and Brunner had gotten to the playoffs by defeating Gabriel Kissling and Michiel Zandbergen of Switzerland (21-18, 21-19). Dalhausser and Lucena’s Friday opponent is Mirco Gerson and Adrian Heidrich of Switzerland at 6 a.m. Eastern. Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb follow against Jasper Bouter and Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands at 8 a.m. Eastern.

Alix Klineman and April Ross and Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman won their pools to also earn byes into the second round. Klineman and Ross defeated Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland (21-18, 22-20) to win pool H, while Larsen and Stockman defeated the USA’s Sara Hughes and Summer Ross (19-21, 26-24, 15-12) to win pool G.

Klineman and Ross await the winner of Hughes and Ross against Azusa Futzmi and Akiko Hasegawa of Japan, who play at 5 a.m. Eastern.

Larsen and Stockman await the winner of Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado of Brazil against Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez of Spain.

Two more American teams, Summer Ross and Sara Hughes and Nicole Branagh and Kerri Walsh Jennings, await first-round matches Friday.

Sara Hughes-FIVB Gstaad Thursday-FIVB Gstaad
Sara Hughes serves against Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman/FIVB photo

Branagh and Walsh Jennings lost their final pool-play match to Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic (21-19, 21-14). Their next opponent is Chantal Labourer and Julia Sude of Germany at 4 a.m. Eastern.

Chase Budinger and Sean Rosenthal finished in 17th place after falling to Pedro Solberg and Bruno Schmidt of Brasil (12-19, 21-15).

Lauren Fendrick and Emily Day lost their final pool-play match to Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishii of Japan (21-16, 21-13), eliminating them from contention.

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The Power Has Defeated the Technique! Volleyball Players from Russia Took the Nations League


The World League turned into the Nations League. Much was written about it, many people were against, others were for. We will not be able to play any Nations League game live on Youtube anymore, we must pay. A few thousands of people watched World League games live on Youtube. offered all games LIVE for a little fee. Did a few thousands pay for watching Nations League? Only FIVB knows 🙂 I consider this the right way. You just pay for quality sport.

Six best teams with the highest ambitions advanced to the final tournament. Poland won only one set. Serbia wanted to make the semifinals but didn’t perform the way N. Grbič expected.

We cannot adapt to France´s style of playing. According to me, we have a mental barrier. It was a miracle we got to Final 6,” Nikola Grbič evaluated for worldofvolley after an unsuccessful Final Six.

On the other hand, Earvin Ngapeth emphasized on his team´s mental strength after a dramatical win over USA in the semifinal.

Not only mental strength led France and Russia to the final. France did not loose a single game in the Nations League preliminary round, Russia lost only one. The final wasn’t just a battle of players but of coaches too. Tillie vs. Schlapnikov. I have a personal experience with both. With Tillie in the Czech national team and a year with Schlapnikov in Russian Super League. Their training methods can´t be more different but I dare to characterize them with two words. Tillie “calm power”. Schlapnikov “energetic or mad”, at least some years ago.

However, volleyball is not counted by feelings but mainly by points and wins. That’s what both coaches know very well.

France and Russia desired to be the very first winners of the volleyball Nations League. A great show started and accompanied the entire final game. The Russian machine was going on full strength from the very beginning, led by flawless Michailov, supported by the giant Muserskyi and the well-known impenetrable Russian block. Despite all efforts, substitutions, time outs, support of the audience, the French team couldn’t stop the Russian machine. Russia dominated all skills. This evening, power again defeated technique.

The third place in the Nations League belongs to USA, where the final tournament of the league will be held for the next three years. The motive of the American federation surely isn’t only the possibility of winning the Nations League at their home soil but aims on other objectives as well. I see a big chance for whole volleyball here.

Volleyball lacks a world competition like NBA, NFL or NHL. I played in many great leagues but none of them has gained a world prestige so far. America knows how to make a show, kick off a professional volleyball league would be beneficiary for whole volleyball. I´ll keep my fingers crossed.

photo: FIVB

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AVP SF: Howard, Reeves, Budinger, Ratledge, Rodriguez, Schalk guaranteed career-best finishes

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With strong winds again buffeting the San Francisco bay much of the day, there was plenty of parity Saturday at AVP San Francisco. And plenty of new faces took advantage to get into Sunday’s semifinals.

On the men’s side, sixth-seeded Ed Ratledge and Roberto Rodriguez play top-seeded Ryan Doherty and Billy Allen at 9:15 a.m. Pacific, followed by No. 5 Chase Budinger and Sean Rosenthal — a new pair in 2018 — against seventh-seeded Tim Bomgren and Chaim Schalk at 10:15 a.m.

On the women’s side, second-seeded April Ross and Alix Klineman play No. 4 Caitlin Ledoux and Geena Urango Sunday at 11:15 a.m. Pacific, followed by top-seeded Emily Day and Betsi Flint against another new pair this season, eighth-seeded Brittany Howard and Kelly Reeves at 12:15 p.m.

Ross and Klineman, back together again after Klineman took time off to rest her shoulder, got into the semis when Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman had to withdraw because of Stockman’s back issues, so they never even had to serve on a day when the wind reached 20 mph.

First-time semifinalists Howard and Reeves only needed one match in the winners bracket, a 21-17, 21-17 win over Ledoux and Urango.

Ledoux and Urango were able to climb back into the semifinals from the contenders bracket by beating Lauren Fendrick and Sarah Sponcil 21-15, 21-15.

Day and Flint needed two matches to make the crossover, defeating No. 11 Lara Dykstra and Sheila Shaw (20-22, 23-21, 15-12) and No. 5 Lane Carico and Karolina Marciniak (22-20, 21-17).

Their wins will give them a chance to avenge a second-round loss to Howard and Reeves on Friday.

Brittany Howard-AVP-San Francisco Saturday
Brittany Howard scores one of her six blocks Saturday/Mark Rigney photo

Howard and Reeves, who placed ninth in the last three events, have made a quantum leap to reach at least third place in San Francisco.

“We’ve worked really hard this week to iron out some kinks we were running into,” Howard said in the Amazon Prime post-match interview. “Different things that have come up. The biggest thing that we worked on was just trusting ourselves and trusting each other in the way that we train and not having any concerns or doubts, just playing the way we know how.”

Howard, who played indoors at Stanford and then one beach season at Pepperdine, and Reeves, who played indoors at UCLA, were down 13-16 in set one against Ledoux and Urango before they turned the tide and never looked back. A big part of the win was Howard’s improved blocking, scoring six blocks in the quarterfinal, including the match-winner, rejecting Urango’s cut to reach the semifinals.

“For me, it was working on keeping my hands out in front and never letting them drop below my chest,” Howard said. “I was getting caught late a lot of times, Kelly’s a phenomenal blocker, she’s been helping me a lot to wait, and press, press, press. Kelly’s been helping me on a lot of skills and blocking is one of them.

Big, physical blockers are tough to find, and the 26-year-old but more experienced Reeves has chosen to mold the 24-year-old Howard through her growth phase.

“Brittany has put in the work since day one,” Reeves said. “At the start, it was a little shaky, but she has gone out there day in and day out and worked tremendously hard, and this weekend, the amount of blocks she’s getting is just insane, and it’s so easy for me to play defense behind, so kudos to this one putting in the work.”

Reeves laughed when compared to Casey Patterson, perhaps the most well-known beach volleyball personality.

“Part of beach volleyball is entertaining,” Reeves said. “I feel like maybe I’ve taken on that role for the women’s side, but you’re not on stadium court very often, so we’re going to take advantage of it. And why not? Look to the crowd, look to your fans, acknowledge them. We’re the players, but they’re the fans, they’re a huge part of the sport that makes the AVP possible. So give them a little love, make it fun for them and entertain them, keeping the crowd involved keeps us involved.”

They are looking forward to the rematch with top-seeded Day and Flint.

“I think we’re looking forward to another fun, high intensity match,” Howard said. “Yesterday was incredible, and thankfully we walked away with the win, but tomorrow it’s zero-zero, a whole new match. We have to have the same mentality and mindset going into it.

Budinger and Rosenthal found themselves in their first semifinal after their winners-bracket upset win over top-seeded Billy Allen and Ryan Doherty 21-16, 21-17. Ratledge and Rodriguez beat No.7 Tim Bomgren and Chaim Schalk 21-18, 21-16 in the winners-bracket quarterfinals.

Chase Budinger-AVP San Francisco Saturday
Chase Budinger takes a swing against Ryan Doherty in Saturday AVP San Francisco action/Robert Beck, AVP

Bomgren and Schalk defeated No. 8 Piotr Marciniak and Eric Zaun in a tough three-setter 22-20, 18-21, 15-11 to make their way back to the semis. Allen and Doherty beat No. 3 Trevor Crabb and John Mayer 21-18, 17-21, 15-10.

The semifinal is the first for the new team of Budinger and Rosenthal. Converted NBA player Budinger seems to improve in each match.

“Just trying to be more consistent,” Budinger said. “That’s the biggest thing for me, not making so many errors, and then focusing on my blocking. Making the right reads, trying to hide, pressing over, making it difficult for the other team to see me.”

Budinger, 6-foot-7, had four blocks Saturday and his reads continue to improve.

“Sometimes I go rogue and see something and go for it,” Budinger said. “That’s what happened today, a little bit.”

“I tell him to go block the ball,” Rosenthal said. “If it’s in system, a good set, out here on hard surfaces, guys are hitting a lot more. Those are a lot harder to sit in and dig, so I need my big guy to make a play, when it’s tight, if he reads it, sees it, go get it. He’s gotten a lot better with it, and he’ll continue to get better.

Budinger has put in steady work on blocking technique, including crouching low prior to the block.

“Something that I’m working on, “ Budinger said. “The best blockers, some of them get that low. It’s a way to hide yourself so the hitters can’t see you, and you explode out of it and make a move. When talking with Sean, that’s something that guys like him have problems with, it’s tougher to see. We’ve been working on it, and got some blocks today.”

Budinger said he’s enjoying his newfound career in beach volleyball.

“It’s something new to me, going out and competing in a sport that I used to love and play, I’m back at it now, and just getting those competitive juices flowing,” Budinger said. “A lot of times when guys retire from one thing, they’re kind of lost as to what they’ll do next. For me, I’m fortunate enough to get to come back to beach volleyball, lucky enough that Sean came calling, and asked me if I wanted to play with him. I’m just blessed and thankful that I’m able to compete.”

Sunday’s matches will be streamed on Amazon Prime. The finals will be broadcast Tuesday on NBC Sports at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Winners bracket
Round 3
Chase Budinger/Sean Rosenthal (5) def. Billy Allen/Ryan Doherty (1) 21-16, 21-17 (0:40)
Ed Ratledge/Roberto Rodriguez (6) def. Tim Bomgren/Chaim Schalk (7) 21-18, 21-16 (0:41)
Contenders bracket
Round 3
Piotr Marciniak/Eric Zaun (8) def. Casey Patterson/Stafford Slick (4) 16-21, 21-16, 15-12 (0:57)
Trevor Crabb/John Mayer (3) def. Jeremy Casebeer/Reid Priddy (2) 22-20, 21-16 (0:44)
Round 4
Tim Bomgren/Chaim Schalk (7) def. Piotr Marciniak/Eric Zaun (8) 22-20, 18-21, 15-11 (0:55)
Billy Allen/Ryan Doherty (1) def. Trevor Crabb/John Mayer (3) 21-18, 17-21, 15-10 (0:52)
Semifinals (Sunday)
Chase Budinger/Sean Rosenthal (5) vs. Tim Bomgren/Chaim Schalk (7)
Billy Allen/Ryan Doherty (1) vs. Ed Ratledge/Roberto Rodriguez (6)
Winners bracket
Round 3
Brittany Howard/Kelly Reeves (8) def. Caitlin Ledoux/Geena Urango (4) 21-17, 21-17 (0:44)
Alix Klineman/April Ross (2) def. Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman (3) by Forfeit
Contenders bracket
Round 3
Emily Day/Betsi Flint (1) def. Lane Carico/Karolina Marciniak (5) 22-20, 21-17 (0:41)
Lauren Fendrick/Sarah Sponcil (6) def. Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler (7) 21-15, 21-15 (0:39)
Round 4
Emily Day/Betsi Flint (1) def. Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman (3) by Forfeit
Caitlin Ledoux/Geena Urango (4) def. Lauren Fendrick/Sarah Sponcil (6) 22-20, 21-15 (0:44)
Semifinals (Sunday)
Brittany Howard/Kelly Reeves (8) vs. Emily Day/Betsi Flint (1)
Caitlin Ledoux/Geena Urango (4) vs. Alix Klineman/April Ross (2)

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USA men gain spot in VNL semifinals with sweep of Poland


The USA men grinded through the first set in Lille, France, and then pulled away Thursday for a 28-26, 25-17, 25-18 Volleyball Nations League Final Six victory.

The FIVB account’s headline read, “Sander sparks the US as Polish hopes go up in smoke.”

That’s because Taylor Sander had 11 kills and three aces against the defending world champions before getting hurt near the end of the third set. Matt Anderson added 13 kills and two aces and Ben Patch had 11 kills and a block. David Smith added five kills, two blocks and an ace.

Damian Schulz led Poland with 10 kills.

“I felt we blocked and passed the ball really well, which gave our offense a lot of options,” USA coach John Speraw said. “I don’t think we were sharp early in a couple of transition opportunities, but once we got a little bit better I thought our offense was excellent.”

The Americans are 12-4 in the VNL and play Russia at 10 a.m. Eastern on Friday. The semifinals are Saturday and the medal matches Sunday.

Taylor Sander, hurt near the end of the third set, is helped off the court by teammate David Smith and trainer Aaron Brock/FIVB photo

“I think it was a great game,” Sander said. “We played a little bit nervous at first but then we played really well. This was an important win for us. Sure I got a bit injured but I’ll be back, I’ll be fine. I don’t know if I’m allowed to discuss the type of injury but I’ll be fine. Plus we have a lot of good guys on our team, so we’ll try to go out and play better in order to compete against Russia tomorrow.”

The match can be seen on Poland was coming off a Wednesday loss to Russia, so it is out of it.

“They (Poland) are a good team that make you play long rallies, with a lot of tip and roll and smart decisions in difficult situations, so we had to play a lot of volleyball and I was pleased with what we did,” Speraw said.

“The fact that Taylor got injured that late in the match breaks my heart. I mean, obviously we’ve had a lot injury issues in this VNL. In some respects, we’re grateful to be here because of who we lost along the way and still managed to make it to the finals. Taylor did not play much because he was home for the birth of his first child, but he’s been excellent for us, and hopefully he’s gonna be well enough to come back and play with us this weekend.”


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VNL Finals Day 1: Zhu Ting Unleashes 36 Points VS Holland


There’s a reason why we call we ZHUper!!!

Chinese volleyball superstar, Zhu Ting, scored 36 points against The Netherlands last night during the first round of the VNL Final 6. Zhu was the best scorer of the match followed by Dutch players Sloetjes (22 points) and Anne Buijs (20 points).

Later tonight, Holland will play against Brazil. The Europeans must win this match in 3 to 4 sets to keep their Final 4 dreams alive. If they lose in 3 or 4 sets, then Brazil will get a Final 4 berth together with China.

Zhu is no doubt the world’s best player at the moment BUT let’s not hope the China will heavily depend on her as the tourney progresses. We hope her teammates will step up their game in the upcoming matches.

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As for the other pool, USA pulled an amazing comeback against Turkey after losing the first 2 sets. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley played a superb match coming from the bench and scored 21 points. Turkey is in the same boat as The Netherlands. They must beat Serbia in 3-4 sets and hope that Serbia beats USA in 3 to 4 sets on Friday.

Knowing how strong these teams are, the Final Round is very unpredictable.

FIVB VNL Final 6 Day 1 Results:

USA 3-2 Turkey (17-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-15, 15-11)
China 3-1 The Netherlands ((20-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-18)

June 28th Day 2 Schedule:

Serbia vs Turkey
Brazil vs The Netherlanfs

June 29th Day 3 Schedule:

USA vs Serbia
China vs Brazil

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Click here to check out the full VNL schedule and tourney details.


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Win Mexico Classic? Luck of the draw and ability to party hard, play harder


Most big tournaments, and by that I mean most tournaments that attract large numbers of spectators, are really about the elite volleyball players. The players who serve tough, jump high and hit hard. Most of the attention is focused on the Open and AAA players, with not many spectators or attention lavished upon the lower levels.

But last weekend’s Mexico Classic is not one of those. Certainly not a tournament where a  long-standing Mexico Classic tradition is to throw out a tequila bottle onto the court to equalize the teams.

The big gathering in Rosarito, Mexico, is an everyman’s tournament where the winners are frequently A or B players, sometimes those who are even unrated, and is perhaps the biggest tournament victory a player of that level can aspire to, where finalists play in front of a crowd of hundreds, which usually includes many of their friends.

Last weekend’s winners were Mike Smith and Chris Gregg in the men’s division, while Mexico Classic first-timers Amanda Vialpando and Leslie Kirschblum took top honors in the women’s division.

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Amanda Vialpando and Leslie Kirschblum, women’s division champions/Ed Chan,

Vialpando and Kirschblum were perfect examples of the luck of the draw.

Both were unrated players and played beyond their point level from what would be expected from their current CBVA and AVPNext points. Vialpando, a Los Angeles resident who earned a AAA rating in 2014, is no longer rated. Although she only has time to play twice a year now, she decided to play her first Mexico Classic.

“Oh, it’ll be fun playing in Mexico, no pressure, no expectations,” Vialpando said.”Who would have thought that we would have won the tournament?”

Kirshblum, who moved to San Diego 18 months ago, had never played in an organized tournament. Her tough serve, solid swings, and consistency held up well under the pressure of receiving the bulk of the serves throughout the weekend.

“It’s a brand new experience,” Kirschblum said. “I was definitely nervous with the whole big crowd, I think the alcohol helped relax us a little bit.”

In the men’s division, current AAA-rated Smith drew a solid veteran in Gregg. The pair had excellent chemistry together and few  weaknesses.

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Chris Gregg and Mike Smith, 2018 Mexico Classic champions/Ed Chan,

Gregg, who currently lives in Encinitas, is a 52-year-old veteran of the tournament. This was his 23rd Mexico Classic. He is that rarest of birds, a repeat winner, having won in 2010 with Brian Mihail of Houston, Texas. The standing joke is that after winning the tournament, your partner the following year only has one leg.

Gregg, who is no longer rated, drew AAA-rated Smith, who possesses exemplary fundamentals for one who has only played for six years. Smith, a converted baseball player, now 32, took up the game at 26, earning his AAA rating last year at his home city of Long Beach.

Success requires two critical factors: Luck of the draw and the ability to recover from shots of tequila. The most important single factor is not athleticism, it’s luck of the draw. Pairs are determined by a computer system that uses a weighted draw system to assign partners.

Probably the next most important factor is alcohol recovery. The tournament is sponsored by the famed watering hole Papas and Beer, where participants party together Friday and Saturday nights.

Jay Warren-Mexico Classic-Rosarito-Estero Beach
Jay Warren makes a save/Ed Chan,

Partners are drawn by a computer program.

“As volleyball exploded you don’t know all the players. We have people fill out forms and we say, ‘rate yourself.’ Some people think they’re a B player, but they’re a B AVP player, so 20 years we developed a computer program that did the pairing,” said Mexico Classic president Dave Skelly, who has been involved with the tournament for 35 years.

“Now not only do we have the program, but we’re linked into the AVP and CBVA volleyball ratings. We still have very good players that are maybe unrated, and say that they play sometimes. The whole idea is to make it fair and have everyone have a good time.”

Despite the best efforts of the tournament committee, a few players every year enter the draw underrated. If you draw one of those players, you could have a shot at winning. Currently rated players cannot draw other rated players to even the weighted draw.

Our not-so-expert oddsmakers rate the odds as follows: Former AVP pros and current qualifiers have a 1-10 shot of winning, AAA-rated players have a 1-25 shot of winning, AA-rated players have a 1-50 shot, A-rated players have a 1-100, and unrated players have a 1-200 shot.

Paul McDonald, for example, has played a number of AVP qualifiers, typically involved in that last match to get in, and made three AVP main draws in 2007 and 2009. McDonald annually plays the Mexico Classic, typically finishing in the quarterfinals. His best finish was in 2013, when he finished second with Corey Dudley.

What does it take to contend?

“A little bit of luck. A little bit of luck in the draw, maybe not drinking too much, although everybody will make you drink, and really, just have fun,” McDonald said. “If you have fun, you’re going to win most games. If you’re not having fun, and diving, and getting dirty, you’re not going to win the games out here. It’s not going to go straight down, there are going to be some good rallies. Out here, there are a lot of rallies. It’s a lot of fun.”

The second critical factor involves recovery from two long nights of partying, and typically copious amounts of tequila and Dos Equis. The Papas and Beer party rages until 4 a.m., and it requires admirable restraint to resist and moderate. After Saturday play, only two of six teams advance to the playoffs, so two thirds of the players plus all of the spectators are out of control, encouraging the playoff participants to partake.

Many teams fail to recover adequately from the Saturday-night parties, some of whom never make it to their opening playoff match Sunday morning.

Typically, in the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, if a team attains a lead of more than five points, or makes an exceptionally entertaining athletic play, the opponents’ fans throw a tequila bottle out on the court, using peer pressure to make them drink. If a player has the courage to throw the bottle back without drinking, the player is met with a chorus of boos.

Paul Mcdonald recalled the story of his 2013 finals run.

“I drew Corey Dudley, who plays at Cohasset, and we were by far the best team, but the tequila bottles started getting thrown out on the court in the quarterfinals, which leveled us out, and by the time we reached the finals the level of play had evened out. Just because you get the best partner doesn’t mean that you’re going to win this tournament.

“Tequila recovery is a big factor in this tournament. You have to wake up at 9 a.m. on Sunday to play, Papas and Beer is open until 4, so if you’re out all night drinking, doing shots, it’s going to be hard to get up in the morning. I have a hard time doing it, too.

Vialpando and Kirschblum partied both nights, but were able to play when they needed to.

“Friday night I went out,” Vialpando said. “Got back by midnight, but woke up, took a shot of tequila, and then beer, so ‘breakfast of champions.’ In my mind, I thought, ‘I’ll keep my muscles loose, and stay out of my mind.’ Guess it worked.”

Kirschblum went a little harder.

“I don’t usually drink that much, but with all of my friends here this weekend, I was out both nights, but home by 1:30 a.m., so better than some of my friends. I was a little hung over, I was struggling a little all day. We both felt a little weak at moments.”

By comparison, men’s winners Smith and Gregg partied in moderation.

“I’m normally the guy that’s in bed early,” Smith said. “My buddies give me a hard time about this. Since this was my first Rosarito, my wife wanted me to be social, get out and have fun.”

Smith, who teaches math and statistics at Redondo Union High School, is typically in bed by 9 p.m. to get to the gym by 4:30 a.m.

“We were out until 11:30 last night,” Smith said, “which is crazy for me. All my friends give me a hard time because I’m not much of a drinker. I was trying to participate, trying to be social, it’s a great time. This tournament is so much fun, it’s awesome.”

Gregg also practiced moderation.

“I used to go hard,” Gregg said. “Saturday I would be pounding all night. Didn’t matter if I had a good partner or bad partner. When you’re in your 20s to 30s, you can handle it. Once you pass that 40-45 age range, you can’t handle it.

“I check out a little bit and turn in by 12-1 a.m. We got some sleep, ate right, had a nice meal, only had a couple of cocktails. I didn’t go hard, it’s a sign of age and I’m OK with it. You can take some solace in getting up and feeling good the next morning. Not waking up with a splitting headache.”

Stacey Smith-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Henry Peters-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach

Jay Warren,-Zane Caufield-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach

Chris Magill-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Peace Uche-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Daryl Faye-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach

-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Paul Mcdonaldd-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Nina Santiago-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Todd Shimp-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach

Brian Mihail-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Max Glassman-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Alfredo Vejar-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Drake Dvorak-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach

Mike Martin-Chris Gregg-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Mike Martin-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Amanda Vialpando-Josh Harner-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Mike Martin-Chris Gregg-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Chris Gregg-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Chris Gregg-finals-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Finals-crowd-Rosarito-Mexico Classic-Estero Beach
Chris Gregg-Rosarito-Mexico Classic

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Outside Hitter Taylor Sander Is Now A DAD!!!


Congrats to Taylor and to his wife on their first child!

The 2016 Olympic bronze medalist shared a pic of him holding his baby boy on his IG story yesterday and check out their first social media pic together.

A post shared by Taylor Sander (@taylorsander3) on Sep 15, 2017 at 2:20am PDT

A post shared by Taylor Sander (@taylorsander3) on Jul 24, 2017 at 5:31pm PDT

A post shared by Taylor Sander (@taylorsander3) on Dec 31, 2016 at 8:43pm PST

A post shared by Taylor Sander (@taylorsander3) on Aug 24, 2015 at 9:02pm PDT

Rachel & Taylor – San Diego, CA from Phillip Goodwin on Vimeo.

In case you didn’t know, Taylor is NOT playing with Team USA in the Volleyball Nations League so he could focus on the birth of his son.

We have a feeling he will be like his dad and Uncle Brendan.

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USA women top Turkey in 5 for Volleyball Nations League gold


The USA women won the first FIVB Volleyball Nations League title when they beat Turkey on Sunday night 17-25, 25-22, 26-28, 25-15, 15-7 in Nanjing, China.

It was the third time the two national teams went five during the tournament as the Americans beat Turkey for the second time in five days.

Kim Hill, who did not start the match, led the USA with 16 kills, a block and three aces. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who led the scoring throughout the tournament that saw the Americans go 17-2 overall, was replaced late in the first set by Hill. But she returned as the opposite late in the second set and finished with 15 kills and three blocks.

Carli Lloyd sets the slide for Foluke Akinradewo during the USA’s gold-medal win over Turkey/FIVB photo

Jordan Larson had 12 kills, two aces and a block and Foluke Akinradewo had seven kills three aces and two blocks. Tori Dixon had seven kills and three blocks.

From USA Volleyball:

Team USA picked up $1 million dollars for winning the VNL title, while Turkey pocketed $500,000 as the second-place team. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley earned an extra $40,000 as the tournament’s most valuable player and Best Outside Spiker. Tori Dixon added $10,000 as Best Middle Blocker. The Final Six held a $2.1 million purse, which will be identical for the men’s VNL to be held this coming week in France. China earned the bronze medal with a 25-18, 25-22, 25-22 victory over Brazil.

“I am so proud of this team,” USA coach Karch Kiraly said. “All 14 of them, and many others back home, have put their heart and soul into this, and that makes us better every day. It is a great win for the USA women’s program.”

Added Larson, “I just get chills thinking about it. Really, this has been a long, long tournament. I am so proud our team. It has been a grind, a lot of travel. It hasn’t been easy, but we came away with a win in the end.”

Click here for the USA Volleyball recap, that has the complete schedule through which the Americans battled from May 15 to July 1 with extensive travel.

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