JUNE 30, 2022, DENVER, CO - This is a preview for the AVP Denver Tour Series that, like the male counterpart which preceded it, will be based on numbers. Here’s the most fascinating of the bunch: 0.
That is the number of AVP tournaments that have been hosted in Denver that featured a women’s field.
Granted, there’s only been one AVP in Denver, back in 1987. At the time, the women competed on the WPVA, and Nina Matthies ruled the world. But there’s still something undeniably historic about the fact that this weekend marks a first, in a world where doing so becomes more and more difficult.
Four AVP champions will be descending upon Denver this weekend for the fourth stop of the AVP’s 2022 season, and a host of young talent will be pushing for their first AVP titles.
Among the exorbitantly talented youth is, quite literally, the youngest main draw player of them all: Sarah Wood.
14: The age of Sarah Wood
This past June, in Muskegon, Sarah Wood shattered the record for the youngest player to make an AVP main draw, doing so at the age of 14 years, 1 month, and 16 days old, alongside Ashley McGinn. More than just qualify, she won a pair of main draw matches, eventually finishing 13th. Now she’s back in Denver, seeded eighth in the qualifier with 18-year-old Florida Atlantic recruit Ashleigh Adams.
2: International events played by Brook Bauer and Katie Horton since Muskegon
It has been a busy few months for Katie Horton and Brook Bauer, the top seeds in Friday’s qualifier. After finishing 13th in Muskegon, they readied the passports, winning a silver medal in a Futures event in Turkey – Bauer’s first international event, no less – then claiming fourth the following week in Poland. They’re heading straight from Europe to Denver, seeking to make it a third straight successful tournament.
8: Time difference, in hours, between Denver and Bialystok, Poland
Speaking of Poland: It’s no easy feat, competing on consecutive weekends in Poland and then the Western half of the United States. It’s not only Bauer and Horton doing it, either. Molly Turner and Jessica Gaffney, seeded second in the main draw, are making the jump across the pond as well.
50: Percentage of quarterfinalists in Muskegon who attended USC
Now on the heels of back-to-back NCAA Championships, the world didn’t need further notice that USC is the most dominant three-letter acronym in beach volleyball. But Muskegon only served to perpetuate the narrative, with half of the quarterfinalists being Trojans: Julia Scoles and Geena Urango, Allie Wheeler, Falyn Fonoimoana and Hailey Harward. Seven Trojans are competing in Denver, with Jo Kremer, and Audrey and Nicole Nourse joining the entry list.
11: Sets played by Larissa and Lili Maestrini in Muskegon
The Brazilians are seeking their second consecutive AVP win after cruising through the field in Muskegon. They won five straight matches, winning 10 of 11 sets. The question, now: Can they make it two straight, and can anyone do it in a perfect 10 sets?
1: Finish from Savvy Simo and Megan Kraft in Balikesir, Turkey
Poland, Turkey, Switzerland, Germany – players are flying in from all over the globe to compete in Denver. Savvy Simo and Megan Kraft are coming off an enormous success overseas, winning a gold medal in a Futures event in Turkey. Kraft then made it two straight with a gold in Poland with Emily Stockman. Kraft is still in Europe, but Simo is returning home to play with former UCLA teammate Abby Van Winkle as the No. 9 seed in the main draw.
2: Straight wins from Aurora Davis on the AVP Grass Tour
Supermom Aurora Davis did it again last weekend, winning her second straight Pottstown Rumble – this year she did it with Teegan Van Gunst – and her second straight AVP Grass Tour title of the season. Davis and Van Gunst, who have enjoyed success on all surfaces and weather this season, are seeded eighth in the main draw, earning a coveted first round bye.
8: Matches played by Kahlee York and Kylie Deberg at the CBVA Santa Barbara Open
Pottstown wasn’t the only tournament with major implications last weekend. At East Beach in Santa Barbara, Kahlee York and Kylie Deberg, who qualified for main draw in Muskegon, played eight matches en route to a CBVA title, and a huge win in the first of the Manhattan Beach Wild Card Series. They are seeded 17th in the qualifier and are certainly one of the odds-on favorites to engineer an upset or two.
10: Months since Kelly Reeves has competed in a tournament
Welcome back to the beach, Kelly Reeves! After crisscrossing the globe, competing in country quota after country quota to begin the 2021 season, Reeves claimed three straight top-10 finishes on the AVP, all with Karissa Cook. But since taking ninth in Chicago, Reeves hasn’t competed. During the spring, she coached at LMU with John Mayer and Angie Akers, and is now back on the AVP, seeded fourth in the main draw with Delaney Mewhirter.
839.75: Points owned by Amy Ozee
Sandbagger alert! Kidding. But seriously: After a few years off, Amy Ozee doesn’t even have 1,000 points to her name, though if points were earned via talent alone, she’d be around the 3,000 mark. So her and Charlie Ekstrom, a four-year starter for Stanford, are a land mine, seeded 20th in Friday’s qualifier, and could make a run deep into the main draw should they qualify.
~ Travis Mewhirter: @trammew