12 stops; Austin gets nixed; VW conflicts and more

12 stops; Austin gets nixed; VW conflicts and more

The 2023 AVP schedule was announced Friday, looking both similar and a touch different than its first under the ownership of Bally’s Sports.

Most notable is the reduction in events, from 15 to 12, all of which came by trimming the number of Tour Series events, a justifiable move, given that six of the 15 tournaments in 2022 were for the lowest level of AVP professional.

The 2023 AVP schedule:

  • Miami Pro Series: March 17-19
  • New Orleans Pro Series: April 14-16
  • Huntington Beach Pro Series: May 19-21
  • Virginia Beach Tour Series: June 9-11
  • Denver Tour Series: June 30-July 2
  • Hermosa Beach Pro Series: July 7-9
  • Waupaca Tour Series: July 7-9
  • Atlanta Gold Series: August 4-6
  • Manhattan Beach Open Gold Series: August 18-20
  • Chicago Gold Series: September 1-3
  • AVP Tour Championships, TBD: September 22-23
  • Laguna Beach Open Tour Series: October 13-15

Happy 40th, AVP!

Why is the AVP beginning so early in the year, earlier than it has since many of the younger players were even born? Because the March 17-19 weekend, when the AVP will make its season debut in Miami, marks the 40th anniversary of the AVP’s founding, when our disgruntled founding fathers struck back at Event Concepts and formed their own players union (you can read all about that in Kings of Summer if you’d like).

Forty years later, the AVP, mercurial as some of those years may have been, is still the No. 1 domestic tour in the world.

Notably absent: Austin, Texas

For the first time since 2017 — in a full season not impacted by a pandemic — the AVP will not be stopping in Austin, Texas. This has, of course, caused some grumbling to the beach volleyball fans in Austin. It’ll also probably be a disappointment to Phil Dalhausser, who won four of the last five AVP tournaments in Austin, dating to 2005, when he logged his first professional victory with Nick Lucena.

Texan fans can likely find company in their misery with Floridan fans, who were treated to two tournaments in 2022 — in Fort Lauderdale and Tavares — before getting only Miami in 2023. To be fair, Tavares was an emergency add in December to fill in for Atlantic City, a September Pro Series event which was dropped in a hurry after the Tour Series event proved to be hazardous to the players.

Somewhat worth noting is that when Tri Bourne and I were polled by fans this off-season about which three stops we’d drop from the 2022 season, Austin was on both of our lists, while Fort Lauderdale and Tavares were on Bourne’s. I added Atlantic City to mine. We’re obviously a small sample size, and while far from unanimous, our opinions aren’t all that unique from many of the players. All four of those stops are gone, at least for the time being.

Conflicts abound between AVP and Beach Pro Tour

If you are to look at the AVP and Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour schedules side by side, you’ll notice a rash of conflicts.

Significant ones, as well.

Miami is the same weekend as a Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in La Paz, Mexico, an event in which nine American men and 12 American women have signed up. Canadians Sarah Pavan and Sophie Bukovec, and Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson, however, are not on the list and could be freed up to play Miami. Also that same weekend is a Futures in New Zealand, which includes three American women and two American men.

That weekend is but one example of many.

New Orleans, which is six weeks earlier than the past two years, coincides with a Challenge in Brazil, Hermosa Beach and Waupaca — which already conflict with one another — conflict with the Gstaad Elite 16, Manhattan Beach conflicts with the Hamburg Elite 16, and Laguna is the same weekend as the final week of the World Championships in Tlaxcala, Mexico.

In a non-Olympic year, such conflicts are minor inconveniences at worst. In an Olympic year? Expect lighter than usual fields in New Orleans, Hermosa, and Manhattan.

Welcome back

Relatively new stops in Virginia Beach, Denver, and Waupaca were welcomed back to the schedule in 2023, while the Laguna Open received the promotion is has long deserved, upgraded from an AVPNext to a Tour Series.

Huntington Beach, one of the most popular stops on Tour during the Donald Sun era, returned to the schedule in 2022 as a Tour Series, and has been promoted to a Pro Series. There are no conflicts on that weekend, either, which should make for a fantastic tournament.

New Orleans, too, a stop that was dropped due to its fickle weather, is back on the schedule. The bar at Coconut Beach will be stocked and ready.

Qualifying system still to be determined

The qualifying system received a face lift in 2022, with the AVP using Tour Series and select AVPNexts to serve as qualifiers in lieu of the single elimination tournaments the day before the main draw. This year will be a mixed bag of both. Miami will have a single-elimination qualifier the day before, with a 24-team cap. Four teams will emerge from the qualifier into a 16-team main draw.

It is expected that the first three Pro Series events — Miami, New Orleans, Huntington Beach — will have on-site qualifiers the day before the main draw. After that, Tour Series events will most likely be used, although the AVP has yet to confirm which Tour Series events would be used for which Pro and Gold Series tournaments.

Points system overhaul

Just when we, alas, began to get a handle on the points system, with its shifting window due to the pandemic, we have another change. Listeners to SANDCAST should plug their ears for a bit when Bourne and I attempt to do the AP Calculus required to calculate the new system, which is broken into two levels of players based on how many events they have played in the last 365 days. Below, I’ve pasted the new point system verbatim from the AVP and you can make of it what you will.

The changes that do make sense, however, and are easy to understand, are the modifications to the points awarded to Tour Series events. Last year, the Tour Series were LOADED with points — unfairly so, in my opinion, and I say that as a Tour Series player who benefitted greatly from that system. The AVP has diluted the points you can earn at a Tour Series, which I think is smart and is now awarding points closer to the level of competition.

Below is the AVP’s distinction on level 1 and 2 players, and how their points are calculated differently.

  • AVP Players will be designated either as Level 1or Level 2. AVP Ranking calculation will change based on an athlete’s designation.
  • Level 1 
    • An athlete’s profile will be deemed Level 1 when they participate in 6 TOUR, PRO, or GOLD Series events in the last 365 days (Main Draw or Qualifier).
    • Once an athlete is deemed Level 1, their eligibility window spans their last 6 PRO or GOLD Series events (that have occurred within the last 365 days).
    • AVP Ranking will be calculated from the athlete’s best eligibleevents within that window.
    • Eligible events include all AVP-sanctioned events (GOLD, PRO, TOUR, AVP America, FIVB, USAV).
    • For example:
      • If Sally played Hermosa Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta, Manhattan Beach, Chicago, and Central Florida (i.e. 6 PRO or GOLD Series events with 365 days), Sally’s eligible window would extend to Hermosa Beach. Her AVP Ranking would include her top 4 finishes within that period, even if they come from another event.
      • If Sally earned 770 points in Central Florida, 1,047.5 points in Chicago, 945.5 points in Virginia Beach, 695 points in Manhattan Beach, 898 points in Atlanta, 770 points in Fort Lauderdale, 696 points in Atlantic City, and 810.5 points in Hermosa Beach – Sally’s AVP Ranking Points would be 3,701.5.
    • Level 2
      • Level 2 players are those who have played in 5 or fewer TOUR, PRO, or GOLD Series events in the last 365 days (Main Draw or Qualifier).
      • A Level 2 player’s AVP Ranking will be based on the athlete’s best 4 AVP-sanctioned events over the last 365 days.
      • There is no cap on the number of events considered within the eligible window.

We have also adjusted the weight of TOUR and PRO Series points when compared to GOLD Series points.

  • TOUR Series events have been weighted slightly less than last year when compared to a GOLD Series event. For example, a 1stplace result is now equal to a 9that a GOLD Series event.
  • PRO Series events have been weighted slightly less than last year when compared to a GOLD Series event. For example, a 1stplace result is now equal to a 5that a GOLD Series event.
  • The correlation between the TOUR Series and PRO Series values remains the same as in 2022.
  • Points earned at all AVP America will count towards AVP Ranking based on the number of teams competing in the AVP America event:
    • 33+ Teams – 125% of points earned
      • g. 200 points earned, 250 points go toward AVP Ranking
    • 16-32 Teams – 100% of points earned
      • g. 200 points earned, 200 points go toward AVP Ranking
    • 6-15 Teams – 75% of points earned
      • g. 200 points earned, 150 points go toward AVP Ranking
    • 2-5 Teams – 50% of points earned
      • g. 200 points earned, 100 points go toward AVP Ranking

2023 AVP schedule