JUNE 9, 2022 MUSKEGON, MI – You won’t find much information online about the 29-seed in this week’s AVP Tour Series in Muskegon, Michigan. Betsy Ronda and Kacey Sheldon do not have an extensive resume on BVBinfo, as many of their peers this week do. All you can find out about Sheldon is that she lives in Grandville, went to Central Michigan, and that this is her first recorded professional beach volleyball tournament.
Ronda has a bit more info on her, details of a college career at Grand Valley State, where she was the league’s Freshman of the Year and the first player in school history to make the First Team All-Conference in her first season.
As for any beach information, though, you’ll be left in the dark.
That’s the scary bit about qualifiers in towns outside of California and Florida: You’ll see teams you’ve never heard of, teams who are talented and can more than hold their own, and you’ll wonder where they’ve been all this time. Such is the story of Ronda and Sheldon who, according to Logan Webber, the local expert on matters of Michigan beach volleyball, is one of the best teams in Michigan; they just don’t travel much, or at all, really.
One of many teams, sneaky or otherwise, looking to win a berth into the AVP Muskegon main draw.
Women’s teams to watch in Friday’s AVP Muskegon qualifier
Melissa Powell, Tambre Nobles
Finally, these two are playing an event in the United States of America! Thus far, they’ve played in Volleyball World events in Itapema, Brazil, Doha, Qatar, Kusadasi, Turkey, and Klaipeda, Lithuania. Powell has also played another in Tlaxcala, Mexico, with Jade Race. If they can play high-quality volleyball on that many miles flown, they can play high-quality volleyball in what is, comparatively speaking, just a quick flight up the road.
Ali Denney, Kenley Adams
There’s only a small sample size on how these two perform together. In October of 2021, they competed in Open Beach Nationals and finished 17th. A few weeks ago, in San Antonio, they also finished 17th. The bad news is that 17th is never the goal for any team when entering a tournament. The good news? A 17th here would mean that they made the main draw, which would be a first for both, who are more than capable of doing so.
Raelyn White, Jenna Johnson
The College Mafia is conspicuously absent, for the most part, from the Muskegon qualifier. The dominance of NCAA beach players on the women’s side must be held up, then, by Raelyn White and Jenna Johnson, an excellent duo out of Florida State, one of the perennial powers in the country. Johnson’s record as a Seminole is an impressive 47-13, while White, a true sophomore, is 39-12 after a breakout 2022 season in which she finished 30-10 and made her second straight CCSA All-Tournament team.
Kahlee York, Kylie Deberg
The LSU program just keeps churning out talent after talent. A year after Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth won their first AVP, in Atlanta of 2021, Toni Rodriguez won her first international medal, a bronze in Coolangatta, Australia, with Zana Muno (Nuss and Kloth, it should be noted, also won their first medal in Australia, making it gold). And just a few months after Rodriguez broke through, Kahlee York was making hers, qualifying for the main draw in AVP New Orleans via a successful run in San Antonio with Meg Gebhard. Now she’s teamed up with another Tiger in Kylie Deberg, who finished up a decorated collegiate career as a graduate transfer in Baton Rouge. How’d she do in her first year on the beach? Winning 33 matches while losing just 10, almost all of which came on court two. They should settle in just fine together on the AVP.
~ Travis Mewhirter: @trammew