Oh, this is rich.

The karmic energies of the volleyball world would have it no other way: Ed Ratledge was going to play Eric Zaun, and that match was going to happen as quickly as possible.

As in: The very first match of the very first tournament — AVP Seattle — either of them played after splitting up. Earlier this week, I spoke with Adam Johnson, one of the all-time great defenders who narrowly missed both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, and we talked about, among other things, the ’96 Olympics, and how inevitable it was for Karch Kiraly and Sinjin Smith to play one another in what would become one of the most epic volleyball matches of all time.

“It seems like, in a normal AVP tournament, if you dumped your partner or your partner dumped you, somehow you guys were always going to play each other,” Johnson said. “That was the match that everybody wanted to go see. That’s the match that everybody is still talking about.”

This is in no way on the level of Smith-Kiraly, but any time two former partners play one another in a split-up that can be described as less than amicable, the seeds of a rivalry are being sowed.

Read the rest of the story at VolleyballMag.com!