U.S. Beach Volleyball Update: Drive to Win

Feb. 15, 2013, 5 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Communications
Phone: (719) 228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org
@USA_Volleyball - @USAV Beach USAV Facebook

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 15, 2013) – Many beach volleyball players view the late fall and winter months as the offseason; a time to take a break from the beach and the balls and recharge and refresh.

Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) used his break to put 2012 in the rearview mirror, take on a new coaching challenge and prepare to compete internationally in 2013.

Matt Fuerbringer
Matt Fuerbringer is looking forward to the 2013 beach season.

Fuerbringer, 39, does interviews while sitting in traffic on one of Southern California’s notorious stretches of freeway. He is traveling from Anaheim, Calif., in Orange County, where he trains at the American Sports Centers, to UCLA in Westwood, Calif., near Los Angeles, where he is serving as the volunteer assistant coach for the men’s volleyball team.

Putting on the blue and gold of UCLA was difficult at first, said Fuerbringer, who was a four-time All-American indoor player at Stanford, but the chance to work with first-year UCLA coach John Speraw was worth it.

“My friend was the volunteer assistant for John Speraw at UC Irvine and he said this would be a great opportunity,” Fuerbringer said. “It gives me a chance to learn from the best and get an idea if I want to coach at this level or not.”

The long drives have given Fuerbringer time to get some perspective on the 2012 beach volleyball season, which saw Fuerbringer and partner Nick Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) fall short in their attempt to make the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball team.

Fuerbringer and Lucena started the 2012 beach season 100 points ahead of their rivals for the slot, Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.). But after winning the silver medal at the first FIVB World Tour event of the season in Brasilia, Brazil, Fuerbringer and Lucena finished their next three behind Gibb and Rosenthal, although still in the top 10.

At their next event in Czech Republic, Fuerbringer and Lucena essentially sealed their fate by finishing 25th while Gibb and Rosenthal placed ninth. Gibb and Rosenthal secured their Olympic slot the next weekend in Rome.

“We did everything we could,” Fuerbringer said. “Jake and Rosie finished No. 1 on the tour. We made finishes are coach thought we needed based on Jake and Rosie’s last four years of finishes. In the end it wasn’t enough. We definitely played our best volleyball of all time.”

Fuerbringer and Lucena finished seventh in the 2012 World Tour standings and Fuerbringer predicts that the 2012 challenges will help the team this season.

“We worked our butts off and we learned stuff from it and that’s going to make us better this year,” he said.

Fuerbringer and Lucena began their beach training for 2013 at the end of January. That gave Fuerbringer one more task to add to his portfolio, which also includes coaching two club volleyball teams and running a volleyball club along with being dad to kids Charlie and Mateo and husband to wife Joy McKienzie Fuerbringer, who is an assistant coach with the UCLA women’s volleyball team.

“When I talk about it, it seems so busy,” Fuerbringer said. “But I’m doing things I really like to do, other than the traffic.”

Model Beach Volleyball

The National Volleyball League (NVL) was one of the hosts of the Model Beach Volleyball Tournament held Feb. 8-10 in Miami. The event brings together teams of models from Miami agencies to compete against each other while being coached by pro and college beach volleyball players.

Several U.S. pro beach volleyball players attended the event to serve as coaches including Sinjin Smith, Casey Patterson, Adrian Carabula, Kelly Shumacher and Gretchen Duffner-Hand. Former pro beach player Albert Hannemann also attended as founder of the NVL.

Actor Jamie Foxx and DJ Irie were among the celebrities who attended the event, which raised money for the IRIE Foundation.

To view videos from the event, click here.

USC Sand Volleyball Stadium

You can get a preview of the Merle Norman Stadium, where the University of Southern California sand volleyball team will practice and play its home matches, by clicking here. The video is hosted by Kirby Burnham, who has also competed for USA Volleyball.

Stoklos to Debut as Coach

Beach volleyball legend Randy Stoklos will make his debut as boys' volleyball head coach Palisades on Feb. 27 at a 7 p.m. home match against Granada Hills in a rematch of last year's City Section championship match. Palisades won the 2012 title. To read the story, click here.

Doherty Competes in Santa Barbara

Ryan Doherty partnered with 12-year-old Jake Engel to compete in a match at the 32nd annual day-before-the-Super-Bowl beach volleyball tournament at East Beach in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he is training with Todd Rogers. To read the story, click here.