A couple of notes about our 2023 VolleyballMag AVP Awards:
- The awards are subjective, as awards go, and we get pleasure from debating them. There was no polling course of. The awards have been selected a combination of stats, finishes, and movie from tournaments all through the 2023 AVP season.
- We didn’t take into consideration Tour Collection occasions, aside from Rookie of the Yr and Most Improved.
HERMOSA BEACH, California — Probably the most dependable methods to find out how elite a group is, throughout the spectrum of sports activities, is to not overview a championship run, or to look underneath the statistical hood and uncover any variety of gaudy metrics.
It’s to see how a fanbase and critics reply once they lose.
When Andy Benesh and Miles Partain fell within the finals of the AVP Chicago Gold Collection to Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner, the response in Hermosa Seaside, web site of the Labor Day Calcutta, was a mixture of shock and obituaries being orated.
Most couldn’t consider it.
The Chosen Ones, the group which might quickly head to Paris for an Elite16, seeded No. 1 on the earth, misplaced to a group who, on the world stage, had been, at that time, decidedly mediocre for many of 2023.
The dialogue featured feedback on how the AVP groups had found out Benesh and Partain, how the matchups favored their model on the Seaside Professional Tour however not the AVP; how Benesh and Partain “gained’t be doing effectively domestically as a result of it has nothing to supply them.” In a single, 51-minute match — a finals no much less — Benesh and Partain, the highest-ranking USA group, have been all however written off by a startling variety of followers.
These following Chicago appeared to neglect that in three AVP tournaments this season, Benesh and Partain made three finals, gained two tournaments, and went 14-2. That they had the very best profitable proportion (.875) and tied Crabb and Brunner, and Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander for essentially the most wins (2) regardless of taking part in two much less tournaments than the previous and 4 fewer than the latter. Their solely losses got here to groups seeded No. 1 (Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk in Huntington Seaside, a loss they avenged within the finals) and No. 2 (Crabb and Brunner in Chicago).
By any goal or subjective measure, they have been the very best group on the AVP in 2023.
Which is why Andy Benesh and Miles Partain are the 2023 AVP Group of the Yr.
Honorable Point out
Taylor Crabb, Taylor Sander
Trevor Crabb, Theo Brunner
Tri Bourne, Chaim Schalk
2023 AVP MVP: Andy Benesh
To separate one participant from his personal teammate with reference to Most Helpful Participant is an odd job. Andy Benesh and Miles Partain complement each other to a level that they’re solely maybe 85 p.c of the participant they’d be with out the opposite. Such is why they’re an elite group — the very best group, in our opinion.
Each completed within the high seven in hitting proportion, though Partain’s .512 led the whole AVP (of these with the minimal matches performed).
Each have been exterior of the highest 20 in errors.
Each have been simpler on offense due to the rising menace of the opposite’s choice, in addition to the arrival of the Benesh jump-set. Proof sufficient: Partain jumped from No. 14 in hitting proportion in 2022 (.442) to No. 1; Benesh surged from No. 21 in 2022 (.423) to No. 5 (.476).
But it surely was the protection that separated Benesh within the MVP race. Benesh led the AVP in blocks per set (2.02) whereas Partain completed in the midst of the elite pack in digs per set, a quantity that’s, after all, impacted by the truth that Benesh allowed him fewer alternatives to get digs than another blocker on Tour. As the sport jumps in stage, blockers change into paramount to a group’s skill to succeed. Blocking is, in a literal sense, the primary line of protection, and no person was extra dominant on the internet than Benesh.
Mix that with offensive effectivity, dynamic as a jump-setter and on-two menace, and Andy Benesh is the 2023 VolleyballMag MVP.
Honorable Point out
2023 AVP Offensive Participant of the Yr: Miles Partain
The 2022 VolleyballMag.com MVP, Partain should settle because the Offensive Participant of the Yr in 2023. Partain led all gamers in hitting proportion with the minimal 10 matches performed this season, a stat that’s made extra spectacular when contemplating two different components: The issue of a lot of his assaults — in transition or on-two from quite a lot of angles and distances — and the notable dearth of errors. In 416 assaults, Partain hit simply 55 errors, an error price bettered solely by Phil Dalhausser, Theo Brunner, and his personal accomplice.
Many would possibly argue that Partain’s hitting proportion is improved largely due to the jump-setting, option-heavy offense he runs with Benesh, however that may ignore the half the place Partain is the engineer of that hyper-efficient system. It isn’t simple to hit balls on two, neither is it simple to hit jump-sets, which are sometimes imperfect in tempo and site. To grasp it the best way Partain has, on the age of 21, is why he has been so harmful offensively not simply on the AVP, however on the world stage, the place he and Benesh are ranked No. 3 — behind two different groups who usually use the jump-set.
That masterful skill is why Miles Partain is the Offensive Participant of the Yr.
Honorable Point out
2023 AVP Defensive Participant of the Yr: Trevor Crabb
In 2017, Trevor Crabb said some of the most prescient words of any volleyball player who has appeared on SANDCAST: “Final 12 months, I used to be getting some defensive reps behind Sean Rosenthal as a result of he can just about do every little thing… It’s positively one thing I may see myself doing. My aim for certain is the Olympics, and to medal in them – gold medal, to be exact… I can positively see myself doing it as a blocker and probably down the street as a defender.”
Nicely, effectively, effectively. Have a look at what we’ve right here: Trevor Crabb, in his first full-time 12 months of protection, completed third on the AVP in digs per set. His 4.44 trailed solely Chaim Schalk (4.75) and Avery Drost (4.6), and whereas we don’t consider worldwide ends in the AVP Awards, it’s value noting that Crabb led the World Championships each in whole digs and digs per set.
“Not my first rodeo,” he wrote on Twitter after. “Oh wait, it’s.”
It was a particular debut for Crabb as a defender. He gained two of the most important tournaments on the schedule, in Hermosa Seaside and Chicago. The one groups who have been in a position to beat Crabb and Brunner this 12 months — Bourne and Schalk, Benesh and Partain, Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander — have been ranked within the high 4 on the AVP.
In Trevor Crabb’s first rodeo as a defender, he additionally made it the very best on the AVP.
Honorable Point out
2023 AVP Blocker of the Yr: Andy Benesh
It’s wonderful what can occur when a 6-foot-9 28-year-old in his prime treats seashore volleyball as his full-time career. Andy Benesh as soon as deserted weight lifting, didn’t eat nice, introduced solely a gallon of water to apply, and was giving out suspect monetary recommendation, working a job he hated.
Then he went full-time on the seashore.
In a 12 months, he turned, by our measures, the very best participant on the AVP and essentially the most formidable blocker on Tour. He led the AVP in blocks per set, leaping even Theo Brunner and Phil Dalhausser, a pair of people who’ve dominated that class lately.
In the same vein that his accomplice, Miles Partain, is a hyper-efficient product of the system he runs on offense, Benesh engineered a singular system on protection that befuddled attackers, both main them into his block or into the awaiting platform of Partain. Benesh performs the chess match in addition to anybody in America.
“It’s rather a lot based mostly off of Norway,” he said earlier this year. “I watched a lot movie on them. We attempt to mildew it in a method — they’re performing some completely different stuff this season. Ours could be very choreographed. I do know precisely the place he’s standing behind me. Him having the ability to bait and change behind me has elevated my blocking rather a lot.”
The scary half? He’s solely simply getting began.
“Since I began taking part in seashore volleyball, I may by no means do what I thought of,” he stated. “I feel my physique is lastly catching up. I feel I’m nonetheless a 12 months or two away from having the ability to do what I wish to do.”
Honorable point out
Edit: Alison Cerutti was improperly snubbed from this checklist. On the AVP statistics web page, there may be each an Alison Cerutti, with 37 blocks in 28 units — an honest quantity and one which appeared surprisingly low, particularly since he blocked me someplace within the realm of six or seven occasions within the Denver quarterfinals. Slightly below Alison Cerutti, nonetheless, there may be an ambiguous determine: A Cerutti Alison, who’s ranked No. 14 in blocks, with 26 blocks in 11 units. That appeared far more prefer it. Had I caught the error earlier, he’d have been on this checklist. Nonetheless, Theo Brunner, credit score to him, pointed this out, and it has thus been fastened. The Mammoth is an honorable point out blocker of the 12 months.
2023 AVP Server of the Yr: Paul Lotman
Paul Lotman being the winner of 2023 would possibly shock some individuals, since most would justifiably anticipate this to be the class Taylor Sander would dominate for so long as he’s taking part in on the AVP. And, certain sufficient, it was Sander who led the AVP in aces for the second consecutive 12 months. But while you look into the numbers, a captivating stat line pops up: Sander hit precisely as many service errors (148) as Lotman hit whole serves. In the meantime, Lotman’s 56 aces have been solely 4 behind Sander’s 60, placing Lotman’s ace price at .378 and Sander’s at .288.
Now, should you have been to ballot the highest 50 male gamers on the AVP and ask whose serves they’d least wish to cross, Sander would possibly get the vast majority of the votes, as a result of he alone can rip off 4 or 5 unpassable aces in a row and no person can be all that shocked. There’s additionally no stat on how typically gamers put groups out of system, and if there have been, who is aware of how that may shake out. When it comes to effectivity, and quietly placing collectively an amazing run on the service line, Lotman is the unquestionable No. 1 in 2023.
Honorable Point out
2023 AVP Most Improved: Cody Caldwell
When Cody Caldwell performed his first occasion of the season, in Miami in March, even he had no thought what to anticipate. He was coming off a quick indoor season in India, the place he was an out of doors hitter for the Kolkata Thunderbolts. He flew straight to Miami — windy, sizzling Miami, not the best of circumstances by which to transition again to the seashore.
He took a 3rd.
It wasn’t a fluke.
One month later, he and Chase Frishman took one other third in New Orleans. That torrid begin was sustained, with a win in Waupaca with Seain Cook dinner by which they didn’t drop a single set, a career-best third on the Manhattan Seaside Open, slaying Alison and Phil Dalhausser in succession, and an ideal bookend win in Laguna.
On SANDCAST earlier this 12 months, I stated that Andy Benesh could be essentially the most improved participant on the earth. That could be true — however he isn’t essentially essentially the most improved participant on the AVP. Benesh was already a longtime presence on the AVP, starting along with his win in Austin with Phil Dalhausser. Caldwell wasn’t but established on the AVP.
Now, as essentially the most improved participant in 2023, he definitely is.
Honorable Point out
Seain Cook dinner
2023 AVP Rookie of the Yr: DJ Klasnic
The inexperienced card most overseas gamers will search to realize eligibility to compete on the AVP Tour is an distinctive abilities visa. After six years of attempting to realize eligibility by way of that route, DJ Klasnic established, in his rookie season, that he’s, little doubt, an distinctive expertise. He performed in six AVP tournaments this 12 months and certified for 5 (4 should you select to not embody the Laguna Seaside Tour Collection, which is honest sufficient). 3 times, he completed within the high 10, even doing in order a blocker for Silila Tucker in Chicago, the place they shocked Manhattan Seaside Open champions Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander and almost did the identical to Phil Dalhausser and Avery Drost. Offensively, he was large, hitting .430, one spot behind Trevor Crabb, the Defensive Participant of the Yr. He added 10 aces and untold variety of out of system serves with a depraved skyball that was notably helpful in Chicago. He’s now ranked No. 28 on the AVP and in line for automated most important attracts heading into the 2024 AVP season.
Honorable Point out
2023 AVP Coach of the Yr: Mike Placek
When Mike Placek was employed as the person to guide Andy Benesh and Miles Partain, he took over arguably essentially the most promising group for the way forward for USA Volleyball. Key phrase: Promising. Each Benesh and Partain, relative to American requirements, have been brimming with youth, Benesh as a 6-foot-9 28-year-old, Partain a 6-foot-4 21-year-old who was nonetheless setting for UCLA on the time. Within the span of just some months, that promising group advanced into The Group: No. 1 within the USA Olympic rankings, No. 3 within the Volleyball World rankings, No. 1 on the AVP.
Some would possibly argue that it’s troublesome to mess up a group like Benesh and Partain, however what makes them so particular is definitely precisely what would make it really easy to mess up. Placek didn’t play it protected, as many would possibly with a group as supremely gifted as Benesh and Partain. Quite than reining them in, he allowed them to jump-set and jump-set and jump-set some extra, even when Benesh and Partain would admit it was inadvisable to take action. He helped deploy essentially the most distinctive defensive system on the earth, with a heavy dose of angle blocks and late line dives that turned them right into a points-earning machine on the AVP and one of the crucial formidable defensive pairs on the earth.
He didn’t put a governor on them, quite helped them push the edges of their talents, even when that was trigger for a rash of errors or seemingly unusual errors. In permitting, encouraging even, these rising pains, Benesh and Partain have been in a position to win two of three AVPs, end the season 14-2, and make three consecutive finals.
The Group of the Yr was made potential by Mike Placek, Coach of the Yr.
Honorable Point out
2023 AVP Most Underrated: Trevor Crabb
The feminine award for this class is called the Carly Kan Award, as a result of for years, she operated thus far underneath the radar, each time she certified, many would marvel: Who’s Carly Kan?
Folks know Trevor Crabb.
Many simply don’t consider in him.
Take a ballot initially of the 12 months, by which solely 9 p.c of responders picked Crabb and Theo Brunner to qualify for the Olympic Video games. Or the bets towards Crabb at AVP Chicago — bets he, of course, happily cashed in on. When Troy Subject came on the podcast at the beginning of the year, he talked about Crabb for a couple of minutes, admitting it took him this lengthy to consider that Crabb is really an elite participant.
But right here Crabb is, winner of extra AVP tournaments previously 5 years than another particular person on Tour. He added two extra to that whole this 12 months, completed third in digs per set in his first 12 months defending, and hit .440 on the 12 months, good for No. 11 on Tour.
It’s lengthy been time to start respecting Crabb’s recreation. In 2024, this award will probably be renamed the Trevor Crabb Award.
Honorable Point out
Sinjin Smith Man of the Yr Award: Adam Roberts
Given to the person or girl who made a big affect within the sport of seashore volleyball.
There is no such thing as a NCAA Seaside Volleyball system for American males.
The closest factor USA Volleyball has needed to a males’s developmental pipeline, previous to the arrival of this 12 months’s developmental program, is a single particular person: Adam Roberts.
With out Adam Roberts, there won’t be an Andy Benesh. Perhaps there wouldn’t be a Phil Dalhausser or Nick Lucena, both, had Roberts not satisfied them to maneuver to Myrtle Seaside within the early 2000s, earlier than anybody had ever heard of them. Which implies that, in an oblique method, Roberts has had a not insignificant hand within the majority of medals gained by
USA males previously 20 years.
Given the roaring success of Benesh this season, this 12 months appeared a becoming time to present Roberts, at 47 years previous, with greater than 200 profession occasions performed and counting, a smidgen of what he’s due. Almost a dozen USA blockers have launched their careers, with Roberts as their launching pad. Benesh and Dalhausser are simply the brightest of the bunch.
Past that, he has additionally turned the Myrtle Seaside Open into one thing of a bucket-list occasion, a star-studded area akin to a serious sport’s All-Star festivities: mild, carefree, however nonetheless remarkably excessive stage. He’s nearly consistently doing issues behind the scenes for different gamers nobody will ever hear of (nor will they, contemplating Roberts doesn’t have a social media, and even when he did, he wouldn’t use it to realize consideration for doing issues for others he does just because he needs to assist).
For these causes, amongst so many others, he’s our 2023 Sinjin Smith Man of the Yr.
Honorable Point out