Don’t call it a comeback, but beach volleyball star Misty May-Treanor is among the headliners for this weekend’s AVP Kingston Seattle Open. May-Treanor hasn’t competed since announcing her retirement after winning gold with Kerri Walsh Jennings in the 2012 Olympics.
Don’t call it a comeback, but beach volleyball star Misty May-Treanor is among the headliners for the AVP Kingston Seattle Open this weekend.
May-Treanor hasn’t competed since announcing her retirement after winning gold with Kerri Walsh Jennings in the 2012 Olympics. A spokesman said May-Treanor, 38, isn’t pursuing a berth for the 2016 Rio Games. She’s helping friend Brittany Hochevar, who was in need of a partner.
The duo is seeded 11th in the main-draw matches that begin Friday morning at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. The men’s and women’s championship will be held Sunday, airing live on NBC.
AVP Kingston Seattle Open
When: Thursday qualifier 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday main draw 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday quarterfinals and consolation rounds 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday semifinals and finals 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Where: Men’s qualifier Thursday at Lake Sammamish State Park (2000 N.W. Sammamish Rd., Issaquah). Women’s qualifier Thursday held at Bottega Beach Volleyball Training Center (16720 Highway 9, Snohomish). Men’s and women’s main draw Friday-Sunday, all at Lake Sammamish State Park.
TV: Finals Sunday on NBC at 1:30 p.m.; matches Thursday and Friday on Periscope; matches Saturday and Sunday live-streamed at www.AVP.com.
Tickets: General admission is free; VIP tickets $55-$75. All tickets are available at the door or online at www.AVP.com.
Parking: $10 Discover Pass required.
Who to watch: Olympians Jake Gibb, Sean Rosenthal, Phil Dalhausser, Todd Rogers, Misty May-Treanor, April Ross, Jen Kessy, and Nicole Branagh are among the main-draw field. Former Eastern Washington star Janelle (Ruen) Allen will compete Thursday.
Follow: #AVPSeattle or #AVP2015 on Twitter and Facebook
“I texted her and said, ‘Are you sure?’ ” said Walsh Jennings, who won three consecutive Olympic gold medals with May-Treanor. “I believe she’s been playing (socially) but I don’t know how much. Regardless of whether she’s been training every day or hasn’t for a year, beach volleyball is in her blood. She’s literally one of the best ever.”
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The May-Treanor-Hochevar tandem is one of four new, high-profile teams playing in the tour’s first return to the Northwest in 25 years. Olympic silver medalist April Ross is teamed with Jennifer Fopma for a second AVP stop due to Walsh Jennings’ right-shoulder injury.
On the men’s side, Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal made a bold move last week to split. Dalhausser, who won gold in the Beijing Games, will reunite with Nick Lucena as the No. 2 seed.
Rosenthal, a two-time Olympian, is teamed with Theo Brunner and seeded fifth.
“Phil and Rosey breaking up, I never would have projected that,” said Walsh Jennings, whose husband Casey Jennings will compete with Billy Kolinske as the No. 10 seed. “It’s not unusual but the timing had to be done now or after Rio. It’s a hard decision to make a move this late, but I know you have to be all in or move on.”
Walsh Jennings, 36, dislocated her shoulder on a kill in the FIVB World Tour quarterfinals in Switzerland in July. She had the shoulder popped back into place to continue playing with Ross and win the match but lost in the tournament’s semifinals.
She hopes rest will help delay the need for surgery in order to have any chance to compete with Ross in Rio. They likely need to finish among the top 16 teams in the world and top two in the U.S. in order to qualify. Currently the duo is 30th in the world rankings.
Ross and Walsh Jennings described the situation as frustrating. They are eying the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., in two weeks as a return to playing together.
“I’m playing with a player who’s very similar to Kerri, so I feel like I can continue to work on my game in the meantime,” said Ross of Fopma. “I can’t stop and think about it for too long, otherwise I get stressed. The fact that it’s a year out (from the Olympics) is just a marker. Kerri and I have had our plan and have adjusted and are just in the middle of the plan.”
Ross and Fopma are the top seed this weekend and look to challenge Emily Day and Jen Kessy, who won the tour’s New York City Open in July.
Two-time Olympian Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson are the men’s top seed, winning the past three AVP tour events. They are the top American men’s team overall and rank sixth in the world.
Hearing May-Treanor is competing in Seattle reminded Gibb of the tournament’s symbolic date.
In a year, he hopes to be part of the opening ceremonies in the Rio Games.
“We’re aware of where we are in the Olympic race,” said Gibb, who has competed with Patterson since 2013. “But my head is 100 percent on winning the Seattle AVP title. (Focus) is a struggle we work with our sports psych guys about in trying to handle because there’s all kinds of pressure leading up to the Olympics. We choose to turn it into fun.”