Billy Ketch Allen

A Mostly Volleyball Blog


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Wild Card

In beach volleyball, you earn points based on your recent finishes. These points determine your seed for the next tournament and whether you will be in the main draw or the qualifier (or if you can get into the tournament at all). No one wants to be in the qualifier, it’s a brutal single elimination bracket in which you grind through multiple matches before the real tournament even starts. Even top players in the world have suffered casualties in the qualifier.

If your team hasn’t earned enough points, there is one other way to sneak into the main draw. The wild card. Every time you register for an FIVB tournament you have the option of applying for the wild card which grants you a spot in the tournament regardless of your points. How wild cards are chosen is a mystery to me. God-like promoters have the ability to reach down from on high and place a team into the main draw they feel would add something to their event. Usually Olympians.

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NYC AVP (Experiments In Time Travel)

The New York City Open was the first tournament in the new AVP Gold Series and had one of the deepest fields. The 35th seed in the qualifier was a team of two Olympians, Canadian Chaim Schalk and Brazilian legend Ricardo Santos. They would go on to qualify and upset the number 1 seeded team of Dalhausser/Lucena. Over on our end, Stafford and I lost our first match of the tournament to Ratledge/Zaun, 22-20, 18-21, 15-12. I didn’t play well, struggling to side-out from the windy side. I felt uncomfortable and wasn’t able to put much heat into my attacks. We were just coming off some solid play the week before in Moscow where we battled through multiple must-win games. New York felt like it was going to be a letdown tournament. This could be my worst finish in a couple years; the previous year I didn’t finish below 5th place in an AVP. From the way I felt after the match, it looked like that streak was over.

Sitting in our player box, defeated, my mind ran through a possible future…

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Moscow FIVB

They Don’t Make Disney Movies About People Who Don’t Go To Moscow.

Stafford and I went back and forth on whether or not to go to the Moscow FIVB 3 Star Tournament. It was an expensive trip and because all the top teams were going we would have to play in the country quota match to get into the qualifier. That meant we’d fly to Russia just to play against our fellow Americans Sean Rosenthal and Trevor Crabb, who had just beaten us easily two weeks before at the Austin AVP.

You don’t want to make decisions based on loss aversion but every once in a while the real world creeps into your mind. We were coming off two horrible international tournaments with first-round losses in both Florida and China and were not fired up about traveling across the world for potentially one match. But after dragging our feet for a few weeks, we decided to go for it. As I texted Stafford, “They don’t make Disney movies about people who don’t go to Moscow.”

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My AVP Playlist

In honor of the AVP’s New York City Open, here is a picture of me jump serving the Brooklyn Bridge along with my official AVP Spotify playlist. I’m not huge into pre-game pump-up music—I won’t be the player stretching with my headphones on, ignoring my partner—but I am really into music. I’m also pretty one dimensional with my tastes (7-12th grade I only listened to The Beatles, since then it has been mostly Bob Dylan) so if they’d asked for much more than 20 songs without repeating an artist I might have been in trouble. What follows are not my favorite songs but semi-upbeat songs by a lot of my favorite artists. (Simon and Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell didn’t make the cutit was enough of a stretch to sneak in Leonard Cohen.)

Tracklist

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Haiku Battle

A friend and I are in the midsts of a Haiku Battle. We exchange poems like a hail of bullets in 5-7-5 barrages. Moves and countermoves, each building on the last. He mentions a park and then I’m writing about a carriage-horse and then we’re at an old abandoned carousel where the horses sit lifelessly…and then we’re writing about death.

I check the shared google document regularly to see if it’s my turn. At this stage, about a week in, we are at 32 combined haikus and looking back to the beginning we’ve both already improved. It’s fun writing such a condensed format with inherent constraints. I’m not sure how long we’ll keep it up–probably not long, but I like to imagine us in our 70s, finding a new Haiku submitted and sitting down in our sky-suites to compose our retaliation.

Here are some of my own favorites so far:

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