May 26, 2022 - NEW ORLEANS, LA - In the immediate moments after a quarterfinal loss in the San Antonio AVPNext a weekend ago, Adam Roberts and Cody Caldwell could do little more than hold their breath and do some sketchy math. 

If Andy Benesh and Tim Brewster, the eventual champs of the AVP New Orleans qualifier, couldn’t technically qualify, seeing as Benesh was already in the main draw with Nick Lucena, their spot would trickle down to the highest-seeded team in the quarterfinals. And with Chaim Schalk and Theo Brunner skipping for the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour event currently happening in Ostrava, Czech Republic, having previously taken up a spot, then their main draw berth would also trickle down to the next-highest seed in the quarterfinals.

Which would mean…Roberts and Caldwell were in, right?

The sketchy math held up, and Roberts, unbelievably, had just qualified for another main draw in a career that has featured nearly 200 domestic events.

He’s ageless, the man, 46 years old, and playing some of the best beach volleyball of his career. It helps, of course, that Caldwell is also playing what is likely the best beach volleyball of his career, hands down. The service pressure the 6-foot-6 former national champ at Loyola Chicago is able to put on teams with nary an error has been an enormous source of points for the two, and his option ability takes much of the heat off of Roberts’ side out.

The heat – the literal one, provided by Mother Nature – has been taken off by the AVP, which has scheduled matches beginning at 2 p.m., going all the way until past 10 at Coconut Beach. Roberts and Caldwell begin with Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander.

Now, for the rest of the qualifiers for AVP New Orleans from the San Antonio AVPNext.

Chase Frishman, Noah Dyer

Noah Dyer’s career-high finish on the AVP Tour came in 2016, at a whopping 45th in that year’s Manhattan Beach Open. So, having qualified, he’s already sitting on a career-best 13th, no matter what happens at AVP New Orleans. There might be some nerves, but Dyer, while a rookie on the beach, has played volleyball on big stages before, enjoying a standout career at Pepperdine before making his transition to the sand. It’s also helpful that he has a veteran alongside him in Chase Frishman, who always finds a way to get it done in qualifiers.

Dave Palm, Rafu Rodriguez

In AVP Austin two weeks ago, Palm and Rodriguez had virtually no reps together. After Palm’s previous partner, Mark Burik, broke his foot, Palm was in search of an emergency fill-in. And there is a perfect emergency fill-in, it’s Rodriguez, who is arguably the best setter on Tour and quite possibly one of the top servers. They technically didn’t succeed in Austin, dropping both matches, but they played well, pushing Chase Budinger and Troy Field in a close opening match, going deep into three sets with Tim Bomgren and Piotr Marciniak. Now, with more repetitions together – competition reps, no less – they’ll be far more prepared for their second main draw at AVP New Orleans.

Skylar del Sol, Andrew Dentler

One tournament together, one tournament success. Everything about this team made sense: del Sol has been playing right side, Dentler has long played left. del Sol earns an abundance of points with his serve, as does Dentler. del Sol is a wicked defender, Dentler, a supremely gifted blocker. The defense of this team will be the foundation upon which they build, and the first layer has been a success, making it through San Antonio and into the main draw at AVP New Orleans.

Lev Priima, Silila Tucker

All bow down Lev Priima, King of the Qualifiers, Lord of the Single Elimination, Ruler of the AVP Middle Earth. For the last two seasons, it is a statistical fact that no player on the AVP Tour, either male or female, has enjoyed more success in qualifiers than Lev Priima. It’s now six straight main draws out of the qualifier for the 6-foot-4 Russian, who again made it into the main with Silila Tucker, their second this season. They did so by taking third in the San Antonio qualifier, winning every single set until they ran into eventual winners Andy Benesh and Tim Brewster in the semifinals. The next step for Priima: Make a run through the main draw, so he doesn’t have to continue bludgeoning his way through the crucible of the qualifier.

~ Travis Mewhirter: @trammew

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