Rafu Rodriguez-Bertran was not supposed to win an AVP this year. Heck, he wasn’t even sure if he’d play an AVP this year.

This past winter, he had a son, Nico, his first child. His club in Temecula, Viper Volleyball, was growing and taking off. And besides, he’d had an excellent career, one that took him as high as the 2015 World Championships.

It was time for a shift in priorities.

He told his partner, Piotr Marciniak, as much, who nodded and went to Ty Loomis for Austin. Rafu sat out.

And then beach volleyball happened. Partners changed. Eric Zaun moved from Ed Ratledge to Tim Bomgren, leaving Ratledge without a partner.

Which brings us to another point: Ed Ratledge was also not supposed to win an AVP this year.

He’s 41, been trying for 18 years. Dumped by the partner with whom he’d had his most career success, Ratledge, it seemed, was on his way out, no different than Rafu. Like Rafu’s club, Rateldge’s business, VolleyOC, was constantly expanding.

And so the most wonderful band, one quasi-retired, one sort of reprioritizing, was formed.

“It’s sort of stepping out, kind of doing it part-time slash full-time,” Rafu said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “I have some other stuff to do but I still want to train and I still want to compete because In like competing but for sure, I never had it in my mind that I would be in that final. Ed is the same way: he loves playing. We do it for fun because that’s what we want to do. That takes away all of the pressure.”

Read the rest of the story, and listen to the podcast, at VolleyballMag.com!

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