Not just another day at the beach
STATELINE – If the saying holds true that you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, than someone other than Bob Dylan needs to take another look at the laws of physics and meteorology.
Thursday’s first round of the AVP Lake Tahoe Best of the Beach volleyball tournament saw some amazing feats amid some pretty ferocious natural elements – mainly high winds and rain – among the 32 athletes competing for $200,000 in prize money at the four-day tournament at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa.
Swirls of wind that seemed to blow from the ground up and rain that sprayed sideways were factors in individual and team performances, giving eighth-seeded and regional favorites Michelle More and Suzanne Stonebarger – better known as “Team Gorgeous” – a brief yet unsuccessful run at the No. 1-ranked pairing in the world and defending Association of Volleyball Professionals champions.
But in the end, top-seeded Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh used the leverage of the weather to garner a 21-17, 21-17 victory over the former University of Nevada, Reno stars. May-Treanor and Walsh will face Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan in a winner’s bracket semifinal match on Friday.
“They had good ball control and the wind helped them,” Walsh said of Team Gorgeous. “It was a great first match. We were definitely challenged and so we stepped up to the challenge.”
More and Stonebarger will face Nicole Branagh and Holly McPeak in an elimination match Friday in Stateline.
“I think we played them tough,” Stonebarger said. “They’re the best in the world, so we’ll do what we can do (Friday).”
Besides the stinging rain that happened on and off during the match, More found herself getting stung by something other than their competition.
A swarm of bees that had feasted at the players’ buffet table earlier in the day had found their way onto the sand court, actually planting a stinger in More’s butt.
“There’s always a first for everything. They say it could snow tomorrow. That would be a first. Getting stung, though, that’s definitely a first,” she said.
May-Treanor and Walsh are seeking their fourth consecutive Best of the Beach title. Walsh is coming off her victory last weekend in Las Vegas, where she was crowned Goddess of the Beach for the best individual player.
On the men’s side, Todd Rogers and Sean Scott are in the running to defend their titles with new partners this year.
Rogers and his new partner, Phil Dalhausser, defeated Nick Lucena and Sean Rooney 21-18, 21-16. Scott and his new partner, Dax Holdren, defeated Casey Jennings and Matt Fuerbringer 14-21, 21-19, 15-13.
The top four seeded men’s teams advanced out of Thursday’s first round.
Action continues Friday morning with an elimination match of Hans Stolfus and Aaron Wachtfogel facing Jennings, who is an Incline High School graduate, and Fuerbringer at 9:30 a.m. Competition runs through Sunday.
The men’s final and women’s final matches will be telecast live on FSN Primeticket. General admission tickets are $20 and courtside seats are $35. In addition being sold at MontBleu, tickets can also be purchased at http://www.avplaketahoe.com.
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