BEST OF THE BEACH
Sean Scott of Kailua and his partner, Todd Rogers, are seeded second for this week's pro beach volleyball tournament at Queen's Beach.
Scott brings momentum home
The Punahou alum and his partner have won two straight events
Kailua's Sean Scott has momentum on his side when he returns this weekend for the AVP Paul Mitchell Best of the Beach.
What a Beach
What: Association of Volleyball Professionals' Best of the Beach
When: Tomorrow, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, gates open at 8 a.m, semifinals start at 11 a.m. Women's final will start at 2 p.m., followed by the men at 3:30 p.m.
Where: Queen's Beach, Waikiki
Admission: $15 to $50. $5 admission with valid student ID on day of the event. Free for students under 12.
Scott and partner Todd Rogers are seeded second in the eight-team tournament, but they are riding a two-event win streak after a slow start on the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour. Along with the recent victories, Scott won the Best of the Beach last year in Waikiki.
"We're in a great place to win," Rogers said of the tournament to be held tomorrow and Sunday at Queen's Beach in Waikiki. "Everyone is gunning for us. We played really well in the last two events and for the most part, when one of us wasn't hot, the other did well. When we put it together, we really handled the teams."
"It's anybody's tournament this weekend," Scott said from his home in Manhattan Beach, Calif. "Any of the eight can win. I'm going to go in and take it game by game. I would love to win. One, just to get another win under my belt and two, it would be in front of my friends and family, who don't get to see me play live."
The season began in April with Rogers as the assistant men's volleyball coach at UC Santa Barbara.
That left Scott playing with fellow University of Hawaii alum Jason Ring. Rogers returned in May and the two had back-to-back runner-up finishes.
Then during the summer, Scott broke his pinky finger and the two didn't train for a month. But the time they were finally able to practice together, they won back-to-back tournaments on consecutive weekends in late August and early September in Boulder, Colo., and Chicago.
"We kind of hit our stride toward the latter half of the season," Scott said. "Once I got my groove, we won the last two. With him working, we didn't get to practice a lot and breaking my finger, we didn't practice. Once we had some time to have some consistent practices, we began to hit our stride."
For the Punahou graduate, the past eight years have been all about making strides.
He left the summer of 1997 for California and wound up playing with former Punahou teammate Stein Metzger on the AVP's qualifying tour. It was a big learning process and Scott said he took a lot of beatings on the beach to figure things out.
Scott eventually made the tour and was named rookie of the year in 1999. In 2001, he played with his current partner for the first time after Rogers' partner, Dax Holdren, couldn't make it to a tournament in Brazil.
The following year, Holdren and Rogers split up and Scott, who had practiced a few times with Rogers, eventually joined him to form a team.
It took awhile for the two to adjust to each other.
Rogers received a majority of the serves during their first year together, meaning he had to be the one to hit the ball and sideout for the team. The following year, Scott received most of the serves.
The two played six domestic tournaments in 2002, finishing no higher than fifth. During the 2003 season, they had a runner-up and a third-place finish.
"The end of 2003, we took a second in Huntington Beach (Calif.) and we were pretty consistent after that," Rogers said. "We were in the top five, won twice this year; we've always been in the mix, and we've rarely done poorly."
At 6-foot-5, Scott is the blocker on the team, while the 6-2 Rogers is known for his defense.
"He's a very good defender," Scott said of Rogers. "In my opinion, he's the best defender on the men's tour. Having him back there really helps my blocking.
"I'm not the biggest blocker, but I'm good technically and I make really good moves. That will be our strength, good at defense and good at the net."
One of the biggest keys to their success, particularly this year, has been communication. If one makes a bad play, they always talk about it right after. During the last two tournaments they won, they would talk about what they wanted to do on every play. The communication in turn fueled their momentum.
Scott came close to achieving one of his biggest dreams -- qualifying for the Olympics -- last year. But he and Rogers fell one spot short of making it.
Disappointed, they looked at each other and decided to keep pushing forward. The following event happened to be the Best of the Beach, won by Scott, who partnered up with various players.
"The Olympics is definitely still a goal," said Scott, who told the Star-Bulletin's Cindy Luis back in 1997 that "the Olympics is the ultimate, but that thought is very, very far off."
At the time, he just wanted to do well in AVP qualifiers in order to receive an exemption for 1998.
"It's much more of a reality for me," Scott added.
"It's definitely possible. It's very competitive on the men's side of the tour. The talent goes really deep. I think now just realizing I can compete at the highest level has given me the confidence to see what happens.
"What happens between now and then (the Beijing Olympics in 2008) are a lot of variables to fall in place."
Short lobs: This weekend is a true Buffanblu homecoming. Also returning for the Best of the Beach with Sean Scott are former Punahou players Stein Metzger, Mike Lambert and Scott Wong. Scott said the coaches at Punahou helped them build "a solid volleyball foundation and a love for the game." He said being away on the mainland allowed them to experience the beach game. Metzger and partner Jake Gibb are seeded first. Lambert is seeded third with Karch Kiraly and Wong is eighth with Mark Williams.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are seeded first on the women's side. Scott's girlfriend, Rachel Wacholder, is seeded second with Elaine Youngs.