Hermosa beach is home to some of the deepest sand in the nation. The depth of the sand alone changes the style of play of many players as it slows them down and shrinks their verticals. This year, like the last 10 (except Covid 2020) I was at the AVP Junior National Championships coaching my kids. Ryan and I have brought teams out to this event every year as it is the most professionally run event our sport offers for juniors in my opinion. Our entire coaching staff made it out this summer to coach so we had a lot of coaches at the event.
As we made our way through days that started on the sand at 7:00 AM and went until after the last scheduled match of 7:00 PM, this year’s event kept us working up and down the beach for 13 hours a day all week. With some very successful juniors finishes including a top 5 and a couple top 10’s, we could have left the beach on cloud 9. Our kids played their hearts out and got so many great looks from colleges that our email and text messages were blowing up for weeks after it was over.
As the juniors event finished for our girls, we were tracking Hailey Harward and Sarah Sponcil in the AVP pro event. Hailey and Sarah are RPM family and we support them in any way that we can! By the time we finished the juniors event, Hailey had been eliminated, but Sarah had not. Sarah, in fact, was in the finals! Our entire coaching staff made our way down to center court to watch the final. We found our place on the sand in the corner of the court just outside the cabana where Sarah’s family was sitting.
Sarah and her partner Terese Cannon were playing Sarah’s former partner Kelly (Claes) Chang and her new partner Betsi Flint. Any of you who follow beach volleyball probably know that there was a little extra riding on that match when they met in the finals. Terese was an absolute WALL at the net and anything that went over her, Sarah scooped up and terminated. The final wasn’t really ever in doubt as Sarah and Terese walked away champions. As the match finished, Ryan snagged Sarah’s parents out of the cabana and pulled them out onto the court as we all walked out to congratulate Sarah and Terese on their first AVP win!
Ryan and I have been fortunate to get to celebrate with Sarah a few times now! We were lucky enough to get to celebrate with her and her family when she qualified for the Olympics in Tokyo and we were so lucky to get to be there to watch it and to be able to congratulate them on their win. Ryan and I have worked with Sarah on and off for years and so it was really cool to be there to give her a big hug after she took the title! What an incredible moment! We were so excited for her!