This is a lot to take in.

In case you missed it, the AVP sent out a press release detailing the format of the AVP/FIVB Huntington Beach Open, the first event of the AVP season, which is sort of a misnomer, because it’s not really an AVP event, but it’s also not NOT an AVP event.

It’s complicated. It’s weird. It’s kinda exciting. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s tough to wrap my mind around this colossus.

Here are the basics:

  • Main draw: It’s a 48-team draw. The draw is mixed, with both international and American. Twenty-three international teams are automatically in; 15 Americans are automatically in. The remaining two automatic spots will be wild carded in – one international, one American. Which makes it 24 international teams and 16 American teams automatically into the main draw.
  • Qualifier: Because the qualifier is likely to be anarchy, and gargantuan, with international and American teams, it’s split into two days. Sixteen make it to the second day for a play-in match. The eight winners of day two are in the main draw.
    • Seeding: International points are used. If you don’t have international points, then AVP points are used.
  • Equipment: Mikasa.
  • Rules: International, so no score freeze or let serves on match point.
  • Format: Double-elimination (!!!). Thank God. Pool play is a stupid, terrible, no good way to run a tournament. Now every match matters. Thank you for this.

Ok, those are the basics. There are some winners and losers with this format. Here are the winners:

  • The United States. Sixteen teams automatically into a four-star? Can you get any better than that? Only six will get the international points – there was no way this format would have been passed by the FIVB if all 16 Americans did – and the remaining 10, and whatever Americans come out of the qualifier, will not get FIVB points. But still, they’ll get international experience. They’ll play on a massive stage on which they otherwise could have never played. They’ll go toe to toe against the best in the world. This is a fun opportunity.
  • Beach volleyball fans. This is one of the most epic formats I’ve ever seen. This is, for Americans, better than the World Championships, better than a standard AVP, better than an FIVB. You get the best teams in the world, in a field dominated by Americans, on our home turf. There’s no bull shit pool play, just straight double-elim. This is my volleyball nirvana.
  • Donald Sun. I don’t know the negotiating wizardy that went into this, but somehow the AVP’s head man pulled this thing off. Sixteen American teams automatically into an FIVB sanctioned event? Nicely done.


  • International Americans, guys who live here and play on the AVP but no longer represent their national teams on a regular basis. The short list here for the men is Rafu Rodriguez-Bertran (Puerto Rico), Piotr Marciniak (Poland), Orlando Irizarry (Puerto Rico), Ricardo Santos (Brazil). Chaim Schalk, previously of Canada, is his own special kind of fucked over here, because, volleyball-wise, he’s neither Canadian nor American, stuck in a transfer period before he can compete in an FIVB. While Rafu and Orlando could partner, and Piotr could play with another Polish player, and Ricardo can (and likely will) pick up a Brazilian, Chaim, as far as I know, can’t play at all, which sucks.
  • International teams in the qualifier. This blows for any international teams making this trip and have to go through what I’d expect to be a monster of a qualifier. Not only will they have to play the usual suspects in FIVB four-star qualifiers, but they’ll have to slog through an endless supply of Americans attempting to slip into an FIVB main draw. I, for example, would have no business playing in a four-star qualifier. I’ll be playing. And I’m not alone. Even if we don’t pose much of a threat to, say, Alvaro and Saymon, we’re extra games, extra jumps, extra swings, extra effort, enough to wear teams down in what is going to be a marathon of a tournament.

My thoughts? I love this. I love this because I am still a fan more than a player, and anyway, this is going to be so much fun to write about and podcast about that I’m childishly giddy about it. If I were to be selfish, and write this from the view of a player in the qualifier, which I’ll be, then this sucks. Qualifying for an AVP is tough enough. Qualifying for a pseudo World Championship, which will include both past and future Olympic talents, is going to require something Herculean from the scraps of Americans who are left in the qualifier.

It’s a bummer for some. It’s great for others. It’ll be awesome for the fans. It’ll be a change of pace. It’s something new, and in an age where beach volleyball, financially, has grown a bit stagnant, I like the change of pace.

I like that it’s a lot to take in.

[podbean resource=”episode=zehbb-7d3203″ type=”audio-square” height=”400″ skin=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”1″ rtl=”0″]