Billy Ketch Allen

A Mostly Volleyball Blog


3 Comments

San Francisco AVP Part 2 (A Song of Ice and Fire)

Some players make highlight reels. I am not one of those players. High-line shots aren’t included in a Best Hits montage and I’ve yet to walk around a tournament and overhear, “Did you see that routine dig Billy Allen had? That was amazing!”

My partner Stafford Slick on the other hand, is such player. Last year in San Francisco he bounced a back set in front of Casey Patterson and nearly out of the stadium before lifting off his goggles and parading around. This is now known as the Slick Slam. Part of me worries this kind of attention will set him back as he tries to top himself in front of a crowded stadium, hitting straight down instead of over the block like he is capable of. But that part of me is probably just jealous I don’t have the kind of velocity to get a hit named after me. Continue reading


5 Comments

San Francisco AVP Part 1 (Memorable Matches)

It was an hour drive from our hotel to downtown Cabo San Lucas where we were going for a glass-bottom boat ride. I sat in the front seat of the large charter bus filled with guests of South of the Border Volleyball Vacations, answering questions to pass the time. After the usual talk about technique and the drama behind partner breakups, someone asked, “What’s your favorite game you’ve ever played?”

Thinking back over my career, my favorite matches aren’t necessarily my best finishes. I don’t remember the details of my first main draw win other than my opponent, Brent Doble, approached me after the match to recount all the lucky breaks I got. The most memorable matches usually have a few factors that make them stand out: the strength of opponent, how close the score was, and how well I played. Continue reading


8 Comments

Seattle AVP (Thirteen Years in the Making)

I played my first AVP tournament my senior year of college with my Northridge teammate Ty Tramblie. Ty was the only other “beach guy” at Northridge so, despite the fact that we competed for the same setting position indoor, we’d play beach together as much as possible. At first, this consisted of games on the shallow dorm courts that felt more like kitty litter than actual sand. Then we heard rumors of a guy living near campus with a sand court in his backyard so we found out where and showed up one day. When no one answered the door we climbed the fence and crept to the backyard where some middle-aged men were playing doubles. They stopped their game, surprised to see some kids nervously crossing their yard. We introduced ourselves and asked if we could play next. That’s how we met Jim, a man who spent his entire twenties working on a fishing boat in Alaska before coming back a decade older and with enough money to buy a house in Northridge and build a sand volleyball court. We were lucky to find Jim’s court. It gave us and other Northridge players a place to play for years to come. Sometimes I’d sneak over to Jim’s on game days to get some doubles in, then hurry straight to the team locker room to shower all traces of sand off before our Northridge match. I couldn’t get enough volleyball. Continue reading


11 Comments

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…

Continue reading


3 Comments

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

Continue reading