Monday, August 14, 2006



I love the fans at the Manhattan Beach Open. The Manhattan Beach Open is the Granddaddy of them all and this town knows their volleyball. This week there was a lot to talk about. Opinions and conspiracy theories about the Rachel Wacholder/Elaine Youngs split made it feel like a Kos Convention.

EY’s spins was “she wanted a taller, more athletic partner.” This makes as much sense stapling jelly to ceiling. EY has had more success on the tour with Rachel since Misty May and Kerri Walsh came on to the scene. Also that she proclaimed Nancy Mason as “temp partner” for the weekend… sems like some claws came out in France and Austria.

Then I heard Rachel’s side, which seems much more likely. Apparently at the FIVB in Paris two weeks ago, Elaine ripped into Rachel on the on the court (I’m trying to find the video). Elaine has always been a fiery player, but now she is screwing up the whole women’s league. In fact there are several new teams due to this break up. I’ll sort it all out for you in a second.

The only real winners are Kerri Walsh and Misty May who will probably not face a challenge for the rest for the season. Mostly because it will take all these new teams to get into a groove together. Also May droped 15 lbs lately due to an off season power work out "vacation" with her husband Matt Treanor, catcher forthe Florida Marlins.

But all this hoopla has had a impact on Wacholder’s playing style. EY and Rachel were very much a good cop/bad cop team. They both would play hard but Rachel was the introvert and Elaine was the digger, hell bent, often arguing with Ref’s. There has always been a time bomb in EY.

Rachel’s play this weekend was as good as she gets. But she was the one arguing and showing her temper off. The game prior to the match televised on NBC this weekend was hands down the BEST match I have ever seen in the years that I have been watching the sport.

Rachel Wacholder and Jenn Boss vs Holly McPeak and Nicole Branagh were tied at one game a piece going into the traditional Game Three 15 point face off. You need a two point marging to claim a victory. This led to a marathon of nail biting final match points.

The Final Score was 27-25 in favor of McPeak/Branagh, thanks to a bullshit call. Rachel was playing with a more extroverted passion than I had seen her play with. In the first match point which favored a poor call by the ref sent Rachel flying into in the Ref stand, pounding on his podium. Unlike most sports,in the AVP this kind of arguing can get a decision changed or at least a second opinion. All four of the women were on fire with every new point going down. I thought at any moment Branagh and Wacholder were going to lose it and rip each other throats out. Then I learned why. Just before the match Elaine had named Nicole Branagh as her new partner. Rachel had something to prove that day and she lost it on a blown call.

So here are the rumors on the new partnerships.

Elaine Youngs takes on last years Rookie of the Year, Nicole Branagh

Rachel Wacholder teams with Jen Boss, who was also her pick at the Vegas Shoot Out last year.

This leaves Nancy Mason (formerly with Boss) and Holly Mc Peak (formerly with Branagh) partnerless.

While they would be a good match up. Holly McPeak is leaning towards newcomer Logan Tom. Who knows what will happen with Mason.

A note about Holly, she one of the long standing Veterans of the beach and has been dabbling in the broadcast booth. She would have learned about Nicole’s partnership with her ex (Elaine). She did maintain her composure throughout the final games, though they were beaten badly by May/Walsh. Elaine Youngs has single handedly messed up all of the partnerships. Mason is a highly ranked player and deserves a good partner.

Here are some thoughts for her.

The Linquists (Tracey or Katie) did surprisingly well against McPeak and Branagh this last weekend. This would mean breaking up a very close sister partnership. Both of the two 5’7” sisters could benefit with partnering up with someone with height.

Angie Akers - Angie has always been a powerful force to reckon with has a history of not being able to close the deal.

Suzanne Stonebarger- An up and comer showing a lot of potential.

Tammy Leibl or Denise DeNecochea gave an impressive 2 game spanking to EY and Mason over the weekend. They would both be great with Mason, however after this weekend a break up between the too seems unlikely. As the last week has shown, strangers things have happened.

The only thing I can guarantee is that the early matches over the next few weeks are gonna the most competitive in Women’s AVP Action. Get ready for the slugfest.

For you New Yorkers… get over the Yankees… it’s gonna be a awesome on Coney Island this weekend.

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