U.S. Beach Volleyball Update: The Road Ahead
Tri Bourne attacks as Will Montgomery watches during the Hamilton Beach Open in New Zealand
B.J. Hoeptner Evans
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 1, 2013) – After their best domestic performance as a team in 2012, U.S. beach volleyball players Jenny Kropp (Grand Island, Neb.) and Whitney Pavlik (Long Beach, Calif.) are spending their winter break from competition preparing to take their show on the road.
|Jenny Kropp, left, and Whitney Pavlik compete at the
2012 Huntington Beach Open
The team that won all six open events on the 2012 Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series, including a second-straight victory at Manhattan Beach, will be taking on the FIVB World Tour in 2013, and are looking ahead to a run at qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Twenty-twelve was such an amazing year for us,” said Pavlik, 29. “Winning the Manhattan Beach Open again was great. It was great to see how much we’ve grown and had such a good season.”
Kropp, 33, is also riding high after 2012.
“Being able to fight through a lot of the tough matches together and playing together as a team (was a high point of the season),” Kropp said. “Sticking with each other and helping each other through was a strength for our team.”
But 2012 wasn’t all about domestic beach volleyball for Kropp and Pavlik, who joined forces in 2010. The team opened the year with a gold medal at the NORCECA Beach Circuit event in Guatemala. Later, Kropp played with Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) at the FIVB World Tour grand slam event in Gstaad, Switzerland, where the pair finished 17th.
Kropp and Pavlik finished the season at the FIVB World Tour open tournament in Thailand, where they didn’t make it out of the country quota.
After that, both players were more than ready for a break.
Kropp, who is married to Adam Goess, vacationed in Cabo San Lucas and also spent time with her family in Nebraska.
“What’s best for me is letting volleyball shut down and so when I start a new year it feels fresh again,” Kropp said. “I’ve been playing volleyball so long that it can be mentally wearing. I ate cake and didn’t go to the gym.”
Pavlik, who is single, also traveled, including trips to Turks and Caicos, New York and to Sun Valley, Idaho, for a snowboarding trip with fellow beach volleyball player April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.).
While she didn’t play volleyball, she did work out at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, Calif., and also did CrossFit workouts.
“I definitely like working out. I feel lazy if I take a couple days off,” she said.
But their rest is over as they began training in earnest this week. And while she wasn’t happy with their finish in Thailand, her experiences with international competition did convince Kropp that she wanted to make a run at Rio.
|Jenny Kropp, left, and Whitney Pavlik celebrate a great play at the
2012 FIVB World Tour event in Thailand.
“Being able to travel and play and see what a different tour is like is a really good experience,” Kropp said. “I was using those two experiences (with the FIVB World Tour) to decide if I wanted to travel (internationally) in 2013. I decided I want to compete at that high level.”
Pavlik was understandably happy about her partner’s decision.
“I always knew I wanted to compete internationally,” she said. “I knew this year was the year I needed to do it if I was preparing for 2016. I’m really glad she enjoyed herself.”
To prepare for the higher level of competition, Kropp and Pavlik have increased their training with a coach from two to four days a week. They work once a week with Barbra Fontana, who helps them with passing, setting and ball control. Three days a week, Scott Davenport increases the intensity.
“We need a guy to hit hard balls at us,” Kropp said. “Guys are more physical and can hit and serve harder.”
They train on the beach from 8-10 a.m. in either Hermosa or Manhattan Beach. After a break, they head to the gym for weight training. Kropp can then head home while Pavlik heads to one of her three jobs, either coaching beach volleyball, indoor club volleyball or working as an administrative assistant at a senior center.
Both players understand that grueling days are what it will take to find success internationally.
“Thailand wasn’t what we were expecting. It fired us up and fueled the fire for this season and made us prepare,” Pavlik said. “I can’t wait for our international season to start.”
“It will be a hard road, but I think it’s something we’re both ready to do,” Kropp added. “It just feels right.”
U.S. TEAMS COMPETING IN NEW ZEALAND
The U.S. beach volleyball team of Will Montgomery (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Tri Bourne (Aiea, Hawaii) won the TSB Bank Hamilton Beach Open on Jan. 26-27 in New Zealand. Montgomery and Bourne defeated New Zealand’s Brendon Heath and Sam O’Dea in the men’s final, 18-21, 23-21, 15-13. The U.S. team of Jeremy Casebeer (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Mark Burik (Glendale, N.Y.) also competed and finished tied for fifth. The tournament was the second event in a three-stop national series. Photos from the tournament are included in gallery above.
MAY-TREANOR, WALSH JENNINGS HONORED
Three time U.S. beach volleyball Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor (Santa Monica, Calif.) and Kerri Walsh Jennings (Saratoga, Calif.) have been named the 2012 Sportswomen of the Year by the Los Angeles Sports Council. They will be honored at the eighth annual LA Sports Awards on March 3 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Also, the Long Beach Century Club Century Club has announced that May-Treanor will be honored as an Athlete of the Year at the club’s 57th Annual Sports Night Banquet on Feb. 5.