Hey, Waiakea readers! Remember me? Miquelle. I know, I know, it's been a while. You may remember me if you had the chance to stop by and read my previous post, covering the Pow!Wow! event on Oahu last February! To help refresh your memory, I reside on Oahu and love everything Hawai’i. I mean... who wouldn’t, right? Everything from the beaches to community happenings, count me in or find me there. This includes the AVP opening in Waikiki this past weekend.
What is the AVP you ask and can you have a little background? Absolutely! The AVP has been running since 1983 and is commonly known as the gold standard for beach volleyball. Their goal is to grow the sport on a national scale and to keep the sport thriving. The AVP, much like any other tournament, allows for two sets of teams, one match and one winner. Each winning team will go on to play against another opponent in a separate bracket allowing for another winner there. This will continue until there is a winning team that takes first place overall for the entire tournament.
If you’re a beach volleyball fan or just a casual on-looker, then you might know that the AVP is the Association of Volleyball Professionals and is the biggest and longest-running professional beach volleyball tour in the United States. This year, the AVP visited multiple major cities around the country to host and showcase the professional games and players. Partnering with Hawai'i Tourism, the tour kicked off in Huntington Beach, CA in May and ended on Oahu this month in Waikiki, where they expanded to an open tournament with a full main draw for their 2019 final stop...and, where Waiakea was the official water sponsor!
Here is what I experienced: As I walked up to Waikiki Beach, I quickly noticed that the beach was a little more desolate than it might be on most days. I followed my ears to the piercing sounds of multiple whistle blows and cheering crowds to quickly see the entirety of the AVP setup. As I walked up to the tournaments, I could see crowds of people that came to watch from the beach and what seemed to be true fans of each player.
I took a seat on the stands in the open air to get a better view. There, I was able to get familiar with the current women’s game and to see what each player was about. The players: Kimberly Hildreth and Sarah Schermerhorn vs Emily Day and Betsi Flint. Both Hildreth and Schermerhorn from Florida, are no newbies to the AVP tournaments. Both women played volleyball in college and then went on to be in the professional leagues. I’m sure last year's scores made them hungry for more this year and whatever they did in the off season certainly played in their favor for the AVP this year, winning themselves 2nd place overall for the women’s team. However, even with their boost they didn’t manage to beat Day and Flint, both from California, who ultimately took home 1st place this year. This win deemed to be a revival moment for Day as she hasn’t taken on 1st place in the AVP since 2017. Watching this East vs West match was exciting and worth the thrill because the crowd was just as into it as the players were. Way to go, ladies!
Next up: the men’s tournament. Maddison McKibbin and Riley McKibbin vs Eric Beranek and Bill Kolinske. Both McKibbin brothers are originally from Hawai’i (and are Waiakea Ambassadors!), so the excitement for this match was much louder, making the game that much more intense than the others. Each point scored, or lost was either a massive cheer, or a loud drown out, “awe!”. Both teams ultimately put up a great fight for the lead, but Beranek and Kolinske took the game and ultimately placed 3rd overall in this years AVP. Both McKibbin brothers were not too far behind, taking on 5th place overall. Proud Waiakea 'Ohana over here! :)
After all that excitement I took a breather and headed outside the covered VIP tent and wandered over to grab a bite to eat and a bottle of Waiakea water in the grassy area. Doing this still allowed for a view of a couple matches and an eyeshot of the ocean. It was a nice moment to enjoy the breeze in the shade and fully take in what I had just experienced. The crowds seemed to have grown from the two hours prior, and more and more beach goers were walking up to partake in the excitement.
Overall, the AVP Hawai’i open was definitely an event I won’t forget and something that I have never experienced before. If you ever have the chance to watch it in person, I highly suggest it, but as always, you can live stream it from the comfort of your own couch directly from the AVP official website here.