Phil Dalhausser didn't waste much time. Just moments after winning his sixth Manhattan Beach Open title on August 20, he pointed to the front row of the stadium, where Tim Hovland was seated, and said "That six, Hov!"
Six indeed. One more than Hovland, who won five consecutive Manhattan Beach Opens with Mike Dodd.
No matter if his five MBO titles have been surpassed by the Thin Beast, Hovland remains a legend, having formed one half of one of beach volleyball's greatest teams alongside Dodd.
Listen in as he joins Travis Mewhirter on the Paper Courts podcast, discussing the golden era of beach volleyball, the Manhattan Beach Open, and where the sport is headed.
Catch all other podcasts on iTunes and papercourts.com.
There are few beach volleyball players on the planet who have won as many tournaments -- and by extension, money -- in the sport as Adam Johnson.
Nicknamed AJ, he won more than 40 professional tournaments, 16 of which came alongside the legendary Karch Kiraly.
Though he was never able to represent the United States, Johnson was perpetually on the tantalizing cusp of qualifying for the Olympics. With the legendary Manhattan Beach Open coming up in less than a week, we felt it would be appropriate to throw it back old school on the podcast to talk to Johnson, a two-time MBO winner, about the Grandaddy of them all.
The AVP Hermosa Open was everything beach volleyball fans could have asked for -- Cinderellas, mobbed stadiums, big draws, big upsets, a Crabb on Crabb matchup (twice!).
Paper Courts interviews Gibb, who won with Taylor Crabb, and Trevor Crabb, the AVP's newest and much-needed villain.
You can find all coverage of the Hermosa Open at Papercourts.com or these links in particular:
He is The Thin Beast, a gold medalist, perhaps the greatest American blocker of all time, if not in the whole world.
But if you'd have asked him in college if he would have ever been a beach volleyball player, his answer would have been a resounding no. But when you're nearly 7 feet tall, can set better than anyone on the planet, side out nearly every time and are peerless at the net, well, a career on the beach is a no-brainer.
Enjoy my conversation with Dalhausser, and excuse the rough sound quality.
I made a bet with Ben Vaught, my de facto West Coast little brother, prior to the season. After every podcast I put up, he asked when he could be on it. So I told him, not thinking he would actually accomplish this until perhaps Manhattan, that he could be on the podcast when he qualified.
Well, it took him one event to do so. Ben, also known as Uncle Ben or Benny Boo Boo or Crack Shack, rolled through the Huntington Beach qualifier, stunning four-time Olympian Reid Priddy and Canadian Olympian Chaim Schalk in the final round. He cried a little. Hell, I was damn near tears, too.
So here is our conversation. We'll cover:
- His experience qualifying on the AVP as a 20-year-old.
- What it's like being in the players' tent for the first time.
- The number of training opportunities it has since opened up.
- Ben's progression through the years, and how he got so damn good so fast.
- Beating Olympians
- Playing Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb
Enjoy, and welcome back to the Paper Courts Podcast!
Sara Hughes was eight years old when she knew exactly what she wanted to do: She was going to play beach volleyball. And she was going to do it in the Olympics.
Fifteen years later, she's on pace to do just that.
A standout at Mater Dei, Hughes was the Orange County Player of the Year and an All-American, which has preceded a brilliant, unprecedented career at USC. As a Trojan, Hughes has won three consecutive pairs national championships. In her junior year, partnered with Kelly Claes, the two went undefeated, dropping just one set the entire season.
Though still playing under the amateur status of the NCAA, Hughes has already made an AVP final and taken a set off of Kerri Walsh and April Ross.
Listen in as we discuss her life of beaches and volleyballs and uninterrupted dominance.
He was there for beach volleyball's inaugural appearance in the Olympic Games -- and he came away with a silver medal.
Mike Dodd, partnered with Mike Whitmarsh, cemented his legacy as one of beach volleyball's greats, though his legacy goes far beyond what he did on the court.
He has since coached Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal in two more Olympic Games, and Dodd will discuss in depth his Olympic experiences as both a player and a coach.
It wouldn't be wrong to put Mike Dodd on the Mount Rushmore of beach volleyball.
The man won five Manhattan Beach Opens and secured a silver medal in the 1996 Olympic Games, the first in which beach volleyball was a sport.
On Paper Courts, we discuss his first love of basketball, being drafted by the San Diego Clippers, the founding of the AVP Tour and much more.
Volleyball's greatest player shows why he's also the sport's greatest ambassador, discussing his position with the United States womens national team, re-emphasizing the importance of humility, and having a laugh about how he was introduced into coaching in the first place.
Listen in for part two of Travis Mewhirter's conversation with Kiraly.
There has never been a point in which Karch Kiraly has not met success. In high school, he won a state championship. At UCLA, where he majored in, of all things, biochemistry, he won three national titles. As a member of the United States indoor national team, he won two gold medals. As a beach virtuoso, he won the inaugural gold medal and was fittingly named the FIVB Player of the Century.
Kiraly is, simply, the GOAT.
And yet, his prevailing message is an inspiring one: Humility. In spite of his many accomplishments, Kiraly remains grounded in a growth mindset.
Listen in to his inspiring message.