Association of Volleyball Professionals
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NBC Sports Network
The Association of Volleyball Professionals, or AVP, is the United States' premier beach volleyball tour. The 2015 season will consist of tour stops in eight cities across the United States.
After a 2010 reorganization  overseen by the investment group RJSM Partners, the tour resumed operations on October 22, 2011 in Huntington Beach for its inaugural AVP Championships event. RJSM Partners, which was originally a minority investor in AVP, had a controlling interest starting April 2009  until 100% of AVP's assets were purchased by current owner AOS Group, LP. in 2012. Additional events under a new operational model were held in 2012, including the AVP Cincinnati Open, held Aug. 30 - Sept. 2 in Cincinnati, Ohio and the AVP Championships, held Sept. 7 - 9 in Santa Barbara, Calif. The 2015 season, the AVP's 32nd, will run from May through September.
The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) began on July 21, 1983, as an official players association to negotiate with private tournament promoters. The first AVP logo was designed by Ken Jencks and Steve Fisher of the Manhattan Beach Recreation Department. A few years later, a revised logo was designed by Rick Jurk.
One of the earliest tour sponsors was Miller Lite beer and play involved a double-elimination format, with select tournaments sponsored by Jose Cuervo tequila offering additional prize money and a unique format that narrowed the field to the top 8 teams, which then played in a round-robin to determine the top two teams for the championship match. Only men were allowed to compete on the tour in the early days. The AVP added women's events in 1993 and '94 while the main women's tour, the Women's Professional Volleyball Association struggled. The WPVA, which had a separate sponsorship with Coors, ceased operations in 1997, and the AVP included women from 1999 on.
The men's teams with the most wins in the history of the tour include Jim Menges/Greg Lee (1970s), Sinjin Smith/Randy Stoklos (1980s), Karch Kiraly/Kent Steffes (1990s), and Todd Rogers/Phil Dalhausser (1900s). After the merger of the AVP and the WPVA/BVA, the top women's teams include Holly McPeak/Nancy Reno (1990s) and then McPeak with Elaine Youngs (1990s), Misty May/Kerri Walsh, and Elaine Youngs/Nicole Branagh (2000s), along with Rachel Wacholder-Scott and Jennifer Kessy/April Ross.
The 2013 tour will consist of seven cities and will return to television for the first time since 2010:
- Salt Lake City: August 16–18
- Manhattan Beach: August 23–25
- Cincinnati: August 31-September 1
- Atlantic City: Sept. 6-8
- St. Petersburg: September 14–15
- Santa Barbara: September 28–29
- Huntington Beach: October 19–20
CBS Sports Network will air live men’s and women’s Championship round action from each of the five Tour stops.
- Misty May-Treanor - Three-time Olympic gold medalist (retired)
- Kerri Walsh - Three-time Olympic gold medalist
- Holly McPeak - Olympic Bronze Medalist (retired)
- Elaine Youngs - Olympic Bronze Medalist
- Rachel Wacholder-Scott
- Jennifer Kessy - Olympic Silver Medalist
- April Ross - Olympic Silver Medalist
- Tyra Turner
- Jenny Johnson Jordan
- Annett Davis
- Suzanne Stonebarger
- Michelle More
- Nicole Branagh - Olympian
- Angie Akers
- Jenny Kropp
- Karch Kiraly- 144 Open wins, 3-time Olympic gold medalist
- Sinjin Smith- 92 AVP wins
- Randy Stoklos- 96 AVP wins
- Mike Dodd- 62 AVP wins
- Kent Steffes
- Phil Dalhausser- 2008 Olympic gold medalist
- Mike Lambert
- Stein Metzger
- Dax Holdren
- Jeff Nygaard
- Jake Gibb - Olympian
- Sean Rosenthal - Olympian
- Matt Fuerbringer
- Casey Jennings
- Todd Rogers- 2008 Olympic gold medalist
- Dain Blanton
- Eric Fonoimoana
Significant moments in history
- 1983 On July 21, the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) is formed to protect players' interests and to preserve the integrity of beach volleyball.
- 1984 Players strike at the World Championships in Redondo Beach. The AVP begins running its own tour.
- 1985 Bolle Sunglasses joins the AVP as a major sponsor. The total tour prize money reaches $275,000.
- 1985 The AVP Tour includes stops in eight states ( California, Florida, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Hawaii).
- 1986 AVP Pro Beach Volleyball receives cable television coverage via "Prime Ticket", and Pro Beach Volleyball makes its network debut on ABC's Wide World of Sports.
- 1988 The AVP awards cash prizes for twenty-seven tournaments. The AVP signs a three-year contract with Miller that results in a total of $4.5 million in prize money. Miller hires the AVP to produce twenty-three Lite Beer events.
The early to mid 1990s are seen by many as the "glory years" of the AVP as the tour corporate sponsorship, and thus, prize money, was at its peak. This period was largely dominated by the team of volleyball legend Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes. The AVP also begun to hold women's events, competing with the Women's Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA) tour.
- 1990 NBC Sports makes its debut on the beach volleyball scene, broadcasting the Hermosa Beach event.
- 1991 The AVP adds the King of the Beach Event to their schedule. This event features a unique format where players play round-robin with different partners to determine the "King of the Beach." One of the event's creators, Karch Kiraly, wins the inaugural title.
- 1991 NBC Sports provides the first live coverage of an AVP tournament in Milwaukee.
- 1993 NBC Sports broadcasts a record ten AVP Tour events in a year in which prize money totals $3.7 million and more than 600,000 people attend AVP tournaments.
- 1993 AVP holds women's events at sixteen of the men's tour stops. In a unique format, eight players comprising four teams, exchanging partners weekly, battle all season with prize money paid at the end of the year. Holly McPeak wins the tour championship with eleven victories to claim the $65,000 first prize.
- 1994 The Miller Lite/AVP Tour and its twenty-seven events approach the $4 million mark in total prize money. Evian and Nestea join the growing list of AVP sponsors with Evian opting for an indoor event in Madison Square Garden.
- 1994 NBC's total broadcast time climbs to twenty-one hours for ten events.
- 1995 The Miller Lite/AVP Tour grows to a record twenty-nine tournaments. The Evian Indoor Series becomes a full pre-season circuit, with events in Washington, DC, Boston, Minneapolis and New York.
- 1996 AVP teams dominate the U.S. Olympic Trials in Baltimore with the teams of Karch Kiraly/Kent Steffes and Mike Dodd/ Mike Whitmarsh advancing as the U.S. Olympic Team representatives.
- 1997 The 38th annual Manhattan Beach Open is canceled due to legal issues and a lawsuit brought against the City of Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County, and the AVP by a small local interest group. The event is moved down the coast to Hermosa Beach and renamed the Miller Lite Hermosa Beach Grand Slam.
- 1997 The AVP business collapses under mounting financial problems. AVP CEO Jerry Solomon is fired and Harry Usher, former US Olympic organizer is hired to run 1998 AVP Tour.
- 1998 Prize money is drastically cut as sponsors pull back on their support of the AVP. The AVP continues to struggle under extreme financial burden.
- 1998 Bill Berger and Dan Vrebalovich take over management of the AVP as CEO and COO respectively. They immediately fund the day-to-day business, and begin to restructure the AVP from a players association to a for-profit, privately owned entity. The AVP is placed into chapter 11 bankruptcy, the players are signed to new long-term agreements as independent contractors and a long-term turnaround deal is agreed to by the AVP's creditors.
- 1999 Berger and Vrebalovich form a partnership with Spencer Trask Securities to form Major League Volleyball. MLV purchases the AVP out of bankruptcy and funds the 1999 Tour. The AVP holds twelve events with a total of $1 million prize money.
- 1999 The AVP once again sanctions women's events at five men's tournament tour stops. At the season ending event, combined with the King of the Beach, Holly McPeak is crowned Queen of the Beach.
2000 and Up
- 2000 In a season of parity, eight different teams win tournaments in the eleven event season. Brazilian's Jose Loiola and Emanuel Rego top the season with three victories.
- 2001 AVP unites the world's best men's and women's professional beach volleyball players under one umbrella organization. With this historic unification of the men's and women's competition, the 2001 AVP Tour will be able to capitalize on having one property that can maximize sponsor dollars, marketing opportunities, media coverage and prize money. The AVP will now stand alone as the only professional beach volleyball tour in the country. It will follow the regulations set forth by USA Volleyball and the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) and will allow its players to compete in official tournaments en route to the 2004 Olympics.
- 2007 Hot Winter Nights, a series of 19 events in January and February, marks the first ever indoor beach volleyball tour.
- 2010 The AVP undergoes a reorganization led by investment group RJSM Partners.
- 2012 100% of AVP's assets were purchased by AOS Group, LP. AOS owner Donald Sun takes over as owner of the AVP in April. The AVP hosts two tournaments, including the AVP Open in Cincinnati, Ohio over Labor Day weekend and the AVP Championships in Santa Barbara, Calif. Sept. 7-9.
- 2013 In honor of its 30th anniversary, the AVP will put together a seven-city tour.
2012 marked the return of the AVP tour including two stops, the AVP Open in Cincinnati, Ohio over Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30 - Sept. 2) and the AVP Championships in Santa Barbara, Calif. held Sept. 7 - 9. The AVP returned to Cincinnati for the first time since 1998, where 56 teams for the men's side and 34 teams for the women's side competed in the open tournament format. John Hyden and Sean Scott prevailed in a two-set victory over Matt Fuerbringer and Nick Lucena (21-17, 21-16) to take home the title and $20,000, capping off a dominating performance in which they defeated London 2012 Olympians Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers in the semi-finals. It was the 8th tour win for Hyden and 10th for Scott. On the women's side, fresh off a silver medal performance in the London 2012 Olympics, Jen Kessy and April Ross defeated gold-medalist Kerri Walsh and new partner Nicole Branagh in the title game, going undefeated in the tournament and also giving them $20,000 in prize money.
Following the Open, the top 12 teams from the men's and women's side were invited to play in the AVP Championships, hosted at West Beach in Santa Barbara, Calif. Rebounding from a sixth-place finish in Cincinnati, it was Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal taking home first place and their cut of a record $250,000 in prize money. Gibb/Rosenthal took down Braidy Halverson/Ty Loomis and Billy Allen/Matt Prosser in pool play before falling to Hyden and Scott. Gibb and Rosie then squeaked past Dalhauser and Rogers in a thrilling three set match to garner a rematch with Hyden/Scott in the semifinals. After dropping the first set, 19-21, Gibb and Rosie fought back, taking the next two sets 21-18, 15-13, setting them up for a showdown with Brad Keenan and John Mayer in the championship. In the best of five sets, Gibb/Rosenthal dominated, winning 21-16, 21-16, 21-17, earning them the title of 2012 AVP Champions and $45,000 in prize money.
For the women, Kessy and Ross continued their dominating performance on the sand, taking down Olaya Pazo/Kendra Van Zwieten, Angie Akers/Brittany Hochevar and Brooke Niles/Tyra Turner in pool play. Kessy and Ross then proceeded to cruise past Jenny Kropp and Whiteney Pavlik, 21-14, 21-12, in the semifinals, setting up a rematch of the Cincinnati Open championship match with Kerri Walsh and Nicole Branagh. It was the same result with Kessy/Ross coming out on top, 21-19, 21-16. By going undefeated in the tournament, Kessy and Ross took home the maximum amount of prize money available of $47,500. Over their careers, Jen Kessy has won 12 AVP tournaments, while Ross has won 10.
The Salt Lake City Open ended with the team of Phil "Thin Beast" Dalhausser/Sean "Rosie" Rosenthal defeating Ryan "Avatar" Doherty and Todd "The Professor" Rogers in three sets. Jen Kessy and April Ross defeated Brittany Hochevar and Lauren Fendrick to take the women's title.
The 2014 season was one of the most compelling in memory as the team of Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross won every single event, dropping only three sets along the way. The men’s side featured slightly more parity with the team of Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson winning four of the seven events.
St. Petersburg Open
In the opening event of the 2014 AVP Tour, Kerri Walsh Jennings set an AVP women’s record with her 67th career tournament victory. She and partner April Ross defeated Brooke Sweat and Lauren Fendrick 19-21, 21-15, 15-11 in the women’s final while Brad Keenan and John Mayer upset top-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson 16-21, 21-19, 18-16 on the men’s side. With their victories, Ross and Keenan became the third husband-and-wife duo to win an AVP tournament on the same weekend. It was also Keenan’s first AVP title.
In the first AVP event in Milwaukee since 1998, Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross took home the women’s title, while Tri Bourne and John Hyden earned the men’s title. The women’s final saw the top two seeded women’s teams face off, with top-seeded Kerri Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and teammate April Ross, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, prevailing over Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat, 15-21, 21-16, 15-13.
Already the all-time winningest female player in beach volleyball history with 118 career victories, Walsh Jennings’ win in Milwaukee tied her for the all-time lead in U.S. tournament wins with 69, a record she now shares with her longtime former partner, Misty May-Treanor.
Bourne and Hyden defeated Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal, 21-15, 21-18 to earn the team’s second win since partnering in 2013. For the veteran Hyden, the win marked his 23rd open title. It was the first AVP win for Bourne.
Manhattan Beach Open
Three-time reigning Olympic gold medalist and Manhattan Beach resident Kerri Walsh Jennings set an AVP Manhattan Beach Open record with her seventh career victory at the AVP tour’s crown jewel event, teaming with 2012 Olympic silver medalist April Ross to defeat Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat, 19-21, 21-13, 9-0 (retired), in the women’s final at the Manhattan Beach Pier.
Sixth-seeded veterans Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal, the 2013 AVP Manhattan Beach Open runners-up, claimed their second AVP men’s title, and eighth title worldwide, together, 21-17, 21-14, over Theo Brunner and Todd Rogers.
In front of a frenzied crowd, April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings extended their perfect season, winning their fifth championship in as many tournaments. The win improved their match record to 26-0 on the season.
In the women’s final, Walsh Jennings and Ross, seeded first, toppled second-seeded Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat – their opponent in all four previous finals this season – 21-14, 21-15. The victory was the third individually in Ohio for both Walsh Jennings and Ross, and their first in the state as teammates.
On the men’s side, second-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson captured their second straight AVP Cincinnati Open and their second AVP title in the last three tournaments with a 21-13, 23-21 victory over sixth-seeded Nick Lucena and Ryan Doherty.
Atlantic City Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational
Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, and Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson – both the No. 1 seeds in Atlantic City – won the women’s and men’s titles at the AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational.
In the men’s final, Gibb and Patterson rolled past the third-seeded team of Ryan Doherty and Nick Lucena, 21-15, 21-14, defending their AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational title and becoming the first men’s team to win three titles in 2014.
Olympians Walsh Jennings and Ross defeated second seeds Emily Day and Summer Ross 21-19, 21-12 in the title match.
AVP Championships at Huntington Beach
Top-seeded Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross completed a perfect 2014 AVP Tour season with a 22-20, 21-17 triumph over sixth-seeded Whitney Pavlik and Heather Hughes in the final of the $200,000 AVP Championships at Huntington Beach.
After the match Kerri Walsh Jennings summed up the perfect season thusly: “It’s an interesting thing when you’re supposed to win every single weekend, and everyone generally plays lights out against us. To have accomplished it and to have done it together as a new team, chasing big dreams, it feels really, really good. It’s something I definitely want to celebrate and acknowledge. It’s just a good push for us, confidence wise, and in every way because we’ve grown so much on our push toward Rio (2016 Olympic Games).”
In the men’s draw, top-seeds and Huntington Beach residents Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson gained wrapped up their season title in fine style with a 21-16, 15-21, 15-10 finals victory over No. 3 seed Tri Bourne and John Hyden, their third consecutive win. “It’s a huge momentum shift from the beginning of the season until now,” Patterson said. “I feel like we’re playing at the same level but we’re playing together as a team better now. We’re executing game plans better now. I went from having one tour win in the last six years of playing to having eight in two years. It’s kind of like a dream come true for me, to be able to play with Jake, a guy I always looked up to, and to be able to have such good team chemistry from the start.”
- Landes, Matt. "2010 season cut short". AVP website. Association of Volleyball Professionals. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- "AVP, Inc. Announces Completion of $3.5 Million Financing and Hiring of New COO/CFO" (September 9, 2008)
- Lefton, Terry. "RJSM taking controlling interest at AVP" Sports Business Journal (April 20, 2009)