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Jake Gibb and April Ross win most valuable player awards; Gibb and Casey Patterson named men’s team of the year, while Ross and Jen Kessy take women’s honor.
COSTA MESA, CALIF. (Nov. 19, 2013) – The AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) Pro Beach Volleyball Tour announced its year-end award winners today, recognizing the top performers from the 2013 season.
The tour - which marked its 30th anniversary in 2013 - completed a successful seven-tournament schedule in October, and saw new stars rise at every stop. With its end-of-season awards, the AVP honors the beach volleyball veterans and newcomers that have helped elevate the level of competition enjoyed by thousands of fans across the country in 2013.
The year-end honors were awarded based on statistics, player votes and points earned during the 2013 tour schedule. Six players were nominated in the categories of best defensive player, best blocker and best server, based on statistics (blocks, digs and aces recorded per set, with a minimum of 30 sets played to qualify for the category), with the winner being chosen by votes cast by active AVP players. Similarly, the top six offensive players were nominated based on hitting percentage (with a minimum of 600 attacks to qualify), with the winner also being selected by AVP players.
Winners in the categories of most valuable player, most improved player and newcomer of the year were selected by AVP athletes through a write-in ballot. Teams were nominated in the category of team of the year based on tournament wins and overall points earned in 2013, with the winner being selected in a vote cast by the AVP players.
AVP 2013 year-end award winners
Andrei Belov - Averaging 1.3 ace serves per set, the Russian-born Belov is the AVP’s most dangerous man when standing behind the baseline. In 40 games, Belov had 52 ace serves, the best on tour amongst the men.
April Ross – Her serve is well known as one of the most dangerous weapons on the sand, and Ross dominated as the tour’s top female server in 2013. In 83 games - second most played on the women’s side in the AVP in 2013 – Ross dished out 0.93 ace serves per game. This honor is not new to Ross, who has earned the recognition of being the best server in the world by FIVB the past two years (2011, 2012). Ross’ 77 ace serves is the most by any player – male or female – recorded on tour in 2013.
Theodore Brunner - The 6-foot, 7-inch Connecticut native has proven to be a human wall at the net. In 82 games, Brunner turned away opponents’ attacks 182 times. His 2.2 block-per-game average was the best on tour.
Jennifer Fopma –Well known on tour for her prowess at the net, AVPveteran Fopma bested the competition in shutting down attacks with an impressive 1.18 blocks per game average in 2013 (90 blocks in 76 games), best among all AVP women. Blocking is a specialty for the 6-3 Southern California native, as she ranked 11th or better on the AVP Tour in blocks per game for four straight years (2006-2009).
Best defensive player
John Hyden –At 41 years old, Hyden shows no signs of slowing down, as the beach volleyball veteran earned top honors as the tour’s best male defensive player. Hyden and partner Tri Bourne played in all seven tournaments in 2013, twice making it to a tournament final. Hyden’s experience shined as he patrolled the court, making 355 digs in 71 games – earning him the top spot as the AVP’s best male defensive player in 2013.
Brooke Sweat –Sweat patrolled the court behind the tour’s best female blocker – partner Jen Fopma – making it challenging on their opponents to score. In 76 matches, Sweat made 552 digs for a 7.26 per match average, the best on tour amongst the women. Her stellar defense shined in Huntington Beach as she and Fopma combined to allow opponents just 264 total points while scoring 322 en route to Sweat’s first career AVP tournament title.
Best offensive player
Casey Patterson –Known for his emphatic and colorful celebrations and intense play during competition, Patterson broke out in 2013 after forming a new partnership with two-time Olympian Jake Gibb. Patterson averaged 8.05 kills per match (596 kills in 74 matches), making him the top offensive player on the men’s side.
April Ross –Her precision attacking ability – 7.01 kills-per-match average - combined with her elite serving skills make Ross the top offensive player amongst the AVP’s female competitors. Ross recorded 582 kills in 2013, the most on the women’s side and second most amongst all AVP players (men and women).
Most improved player
Tri Bourne –Recognized by his peers for his improved play throughout the season, Bourne is the AVP’s most improved men’s player of the year. In his first full season on tour, Bourne and partner John Hyden moved up in the rankings from the sixth to third seed after earning two second- and two third-place finishes – marking career highs for Bourne.
Emily Day –Day started turning heads on Labor Day weekend in 2013, when she and new partner Summer Ross earned the Cincinnati Open title after entering the main draw through the qualifying tournament – their first competition as a team. In just her second full season on tour, Day earned five top-five finishes in six tournaments in 2013. Day ranks among the top 10 women in aces and blocks and ranks 14th in digs and 20th in kills in the AVP (women).
Newcomer of the year
Tri Bourne - In only his second year as a professional and his first playing full-time on the AVP tour, Bourne emerged as a force to be reckoned with on the sand. Playing in all seven tournaments, Bourne and his teammate – veteran John Hyden – finished no lower than seventh, making appearances in the finals of the last two tournaments of the season.
Lane Carico - After playing in her first AVP tournament at the age of 16, Carico played her first full season with the AVP in 2013. Carico/Hughes finished in the top 10 in all six tournaments they entered -twice entering as qualifiers - earning three fifth-place finishes, a career high for Carico.
Most valuable player
Jake Gibb - Gibb, who has played on the AVP tour since 2000, showed his well-rounded skills and leadership on the court as he excelled with new partner Casey Patterson in 2013.The two-time Olympian continued to impress, and dominate on the court, elevating his game to help his team to four tournament titles, three third-place finishes and the top rank on the AVP tour in 2013. Gibb was also named the AVP’s most valuable player in 2005.
April Ross – The 2006 AVP rookie of the year has grown into the tour’s MVP. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist was the only women’s player in 2013 to earn three tournament titles. Ross carried her consistent play through a mid-season partnership change, winning two tournament titles with Jen Kessy before partnering with three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings to win the Santa Barbara Open title in her first tournament with Walsh Jennings.
Team of the year
Jake Gibb / Casey Patterson – The newly formed team of Gibb and Patterson took the AVP by storm in the first year of their partnership, going on a mid-season run that saw them win four consecutive tournament titles – Cincinnati, Atlantic City, St. Pete and Santa Barbara. The pair, known for their high-energy play and colorful celebrations, finished the year as the AVP’s top-ranked team.
Jen Kessy / April Ross
Kessy and Ross, the 2012 Olympic silver medalists, wrapped up a partnership that dated back to 2007 with a solid final season together. Playing as partners in the first five events of the season, the duo won two tournaments (Salt Lake City, Atlantic City), tied for third twice and tied for second in St. Pete when the women’s final was cancelled due to severe weather. The women’s team of the year ballot came back with Kessy and April Ross tied with the upand-coming team of Emily Day and Summer Ross, forcing a tie-breaker ballot in which players could choose between only those two teams. Kessy and April Ross won by a two-vote margin.
The AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour is in the process of scheduling a 2014 tour that will again bring the best athletes in the sport to cities across the country. For more information on the AVP and its athletes, visit www.AVP.com.