New Partnerships Alert! 🚨 – AVP Beach Volleyball

Oh, what a difference a year can make. 

There are more new AVP teams this year than there have been in a long time. With the 2024 Olympics only two-and-a-half years away, athletes are breaking up and reforming new partnerships in hopes of a more successful run to Paris. They’re in the honeymoon phase— that sweet but awkward early bliss. Practice is a daily lesson in each others’ strengths, set call, and punctuality (or lack thereof). 

Every day biking on The Strand in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach is a soap opera of who’s playing with whom. Though a handful of top players have yet to decide, including my 2021 Unofficial MVP Casey Patterson, there are plenty of shake ups that are set in stone. For now, at least. Nothing is set in stone in beach volleyball. We’ll stick with “set in sand.” 

Taylor Crabb & Taylor Sander 

Maybe the first new cemented partnership, this Taylor-squared duo has some major clout behind their names. We all know Taylor Crabb’s dominance on the sand; now it’s time for indoor phenom Taylor Sander to prove he has what it takes on the AVP. With Coach Rich Lambourne and more practice time than all the other new teams on the AVP, these two have a ripe opportunity to win AVPs. 

Sarah Sponcil & Terese Cannon 

One of the next teams to officially form was Tokyo Olympian Sarah Sponcil and former partner Terese Cannon. These two first played together in Chicago 2018, where they made an impressive Sunday run via the Qualifier. They both had an excellent 2021, with Sarah off to the Olympics and Terese earning three FIVB medals and a couple of AVP Sunday appearances. They’re now teaming up with Scott Davenport, the former coach of Canadian World Champs Sarah Pavan & Melissa Humana-Paredes. Lots of big talent and a high ceiling. 

Kelly Claes & Betsi Flint 

If Sponcil has a new partner, of course, Kelly Claes must have moved on. She and new mom Betsi Flint have teamed up and are now the top-ranked USA team on the FIVB Tour. Kelly and April Ross were seen training together at one point, but Claes/Flint coordinated a dual social media post in January to announce their new partnership. They’re both scrappy and excellent setters; this will be fun. 

April Ross & Emily Day 

As Alix Klineman is recovering from shoulder surgery, April Ross turns her sights to another high-level blocker in Emily Day. Longtime rivals on the AVP and two of the winningest current female players are ready to win some more AVPs together. April and Emily are two fundamentally strong and extremely athletic players; the sky’s the limit! 

Chase Budinger & Troy Field 

Yes, you read that right. Former blocker Troy Field has switched to defense and is partnering with one of the most promising talents on the AVP in Chase Budinger. This very tall and powerful team has played a few FIVBs together; they made their partnership official in early February after months of training off and on. Chase pretty much had his pick of the litter – a lot of defenders wanted to play with him. But the raw potential of Troy eventually won out. .

Nick Lucena & Andy Benesh 

One of the oldest and most decorated players pairs up with one of the newest, untested guys with tons of potential. Andy had a breakout season last year (earning my Rookie and Most Improved Awards) alongside Billy Allen. With another year under his belt and a two-time Olympian in the backcourt, I envision seeing a lot of this team on Championship Sunday. Nick is in Florida, and Andy is in SoCal; it’ll be fun to follow along and see who goes where and when. Also – will they play FIVBs? I have no idea; can’t wait.. 

Sara Hughes & Kelley Kolinske 

We have a new Sara and Kelley duo, but thankfully different spelling on both. Hughes and Kolinske are two of the best players on the AVP, but both have struggled to consistently win with a partner. Hughes and Summer Ross were an exceptional team until Summer’s injury halted their run. Kolinske and Emily Stockman were a force to be reckoned with, but they only won one AVP. Now, Hughes/Kolinske, as two of the hardest workers and coached by Evie Matthews, are sure to take this season by storm. 

John Hyden & Logan Webber 

This partnership, another good ol’ vet and newbie pairing, is a great move for both players. Hyden’s wisdom and experience plus Webber’s raw athleticism and potential will combine to form what I imagine will be many deep runs on Tour this year. 

Jeremy Casebeer & Billy Allen 

Two AVP staples are teaming up for the first time. Casebeer and Allen are two more high-level athletes who haven’t had consistent wins on the AVP. I have high hopes for these solid and steady vets. 

Corinne Quiggle & Sarah Schermerhorn 

These two have been dabbling in the FIVB for a while and are now fully committed for the AVP season. They’ve both found their stride in the last couple of years, garnering high finishes with different partners. Together, the two tall, scrappy jumpers have a lot of promise. 

Avery Drost & Eric Beranek 

This duo finished the 2021 season in Chicago together and earned 9th place. Hungry for more, these two fiery athletes are sure to pack a lot of punch heading into the new season. 

Some male partnerships that’ll look familiar to you are Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb, Chaim Schalk/Theo Brunner, and Miles Partain/Paul Lotman. The women’s side is all up in the air with Crissy Jones, Brandie Wilkerson, Zana Muno, Molly Turner, Karissa Cook, and Kelly Reeves all without set partners, among many others. Stay tuned for more updates and AVP news as we lead into this v exciting season.