Sunday, August 26, 2007

The AVP on NBC - Beach Volleyball (boo-yahh)

Saturday was a big day for me! Something I've been looking forward to all summer. The AVP Tour coming to Coney Island, Brooklyn baby! Woot! Now for those of you that don't know I played volleyball in high school and then after college I played in club leagues in Boston for a couple of years. When I started training for marathons I stopped playing v-ball because I didn't want to injure myself and not be able to run. I've always peripherally followed the AVP because you can catch the men's and women's finals on TV but this summer I've been watching most finals and for whatever reason I've been following the sport much more closely. When I found out they were coming to Brooklyn I was so excited that maybe, just maybe I'd get to see some games live. My DH agreed to come with me (since we only have 1 TV by default he catches a lot of beach volleyball games too:)

Yesterday, after our 6 mile run we headed out to Coney Island! The ride to Coney Island is incredibly long (an hour on the subway feels a lot longer than an hour in a car!) from where we live but hey, at least the subway goes out that far. We got to the beach a little after 10 picked up our tickets from will call and walked in ready to explore how this tourney would be all set up.

Two weeks ago, my friend Michelle saw the AVP when they played at Manhattan Beach in Cali and she wrote on her blog about how amazed she was as to how close you could get or were to the players. And boy was she right! They have the main stadium set up (see the pictures above), where all the "big" games go on. And then the rest of the games take place on courts that you literally stand around as if you were just watching some people playing a pick up game of vball on the beach (ok, there are sponsor banners separating you from the court so you don't interfere with play and they're not playing pick up vball) but you're uber close.

We walked around for a little bit to get a sense of how everything was set up, what games had taken place the day before, what games were going on at the time, and what games were coming up and then decided to catch Elaine Young/Nicole Branagh vs. Angie Akers/Brooke Hanson. For those of you that aren't familiar with beach vball (which is I'm going to assume most of you) Young/Branagh beat the #1 women's team (Misty May/Kerri Walsh) last weekend in Boston so I really wanted to see them play live. EY (as Elaine Young is usually referred to) is always very emotional when she plays vball and you can tell that as you watch her play on TV but seeing her live was something else. Right as we got to the court she was called on a lift when setting the ball and she went absolutely balistic at the referee. I wasn't watching closely enough yet to really tell whether it was a good call or not, but she was not backing down. And you're that close that it's like watching two people in the mall get into a huge fight - it was uncomfortable to say the least. EY/Branagh went on to win the match and it was definitely fun to see them play.

After catching them we went into the large stadium to see Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (the #1 men's team in the world beat Matt Fuerbringer/Casey Jennings to advance to the semi-finals. Having some time to kill before the two men's semi-final games began we visited the sponsor booths and got some food. Then we went over and I got to see a legend, a women who I idolized in high school play! I was so excited - especially since I had thought that Holly McPeak had retired. Unfortunately her and her teammate lost but still - woot!

We agreed that we were going to watch one of each of the semi-final games. So we went to Court 1 and caught the first game of John Hyden/Brad Keenan vs. Scott Wong/Aaron Wachtfogel (unfortunately Hyden/Keenan lost and ended up losing the whole match). Then we went into the main stadium to watch Dalhausser/Rogers knock out Mike Lambert/Stein Metzger. Watching that game was so fun though because Lambert/Metzger totally played to the crowd and got really worked up and excited every time they scored a point. Even though Dalhauser/Rogers are the number one team I definitely got the sense during both the semi-final game and the final that the crowd would have liked to see an upset...

At 2:30 it was time for the men's final: Dalhausser/Rogers vs. Wong/Wachtfogel. We were rooting for Wong/Wachtfogel, as it was Wong's first final ever, Wachfogel's parents were sitting literally five people away from us, and hey everyone's likes an upset right? The AVP has this really funny announcer guy who warms up the crowd, plays a lot of fun music and gets us ready to cheer really loudly and make sure everyone watching the AVP on NBC knows how much fun it is to watch the matches live. Vince Carter was there from the Nets as well as the Nets owner doing lots of promoting since they're moving the Nets to Brooklyn (maybe I'll have to add going to a Brooklyn Nets game on my list of things to do in NYC!) And then the game began...and I have to say this really is a fun sport to watch live. They really know how to entertain a crowd and keep the fun and excitement level up! It was such a great match - Scotty Wong had the game of his life - hey played sooo well. As did Wachtfogel...but it just wasn't enough to take down Dalhausser/Rogers. Although they did keep both games really close.

After the men's final was over we stuck around to watch May/Walsh take on Annett Davis/Jenny Johnson Jordan in the quarterfinals (I believe) and it was fun to watch the #1 women's team take on the #4 team. May/Walsh won and then it was time to call it a day. I have to say for $20 a person we got a full day of entertainment. We were out all day on the beach, watching a fun sport and for me really getting to experience something I've wanted to do for a long time - getting to watch the AVP Tour live. We already have agreed that if they come back to Coney Island next year for the tour - we'll be out there for the day to partake in all the fun!!!!

The last time we went out to Coney Island (over Memorial Day Weekend before I began this blog) we rode the Cyclone and got a hot dog at Nathan's (the true Coney Island experiences) so this time we didn't get in the long lines for both, it had just been too long of a day already! But I highly recommend both if you ever find yourself in Coney Island.


Michelle said...

I got goosebumps reading about your experience and remembering mine - isn't it crazy how intimate the setting is? Can you imagine being able to interact with the Sox like that :-)

SundreamNYC said...

OK, I want to go next year! I don't watch much V-ball, but I love to play and I like any sport live! It makes me want to be back in NYC!Are you going to the US Open?

readerbean said...

OK, we'll totally go next year - you don't have to put the hard sell on me:)

I didn't get tickets for the US Open this year - it kind of snuck up on me - but it's on my list of things to do next year for sure!