CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh celebrated after winning the 2005 AVP Best of the Beach tournament final at Queen's Beach in Waikiki yesterday.
Scott, Rogers finish strong
After a shaky start to the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, Sean Scott and Todd Rogers finished the season in style by defeating sixth-seeded Dax Holdren and Jeff Nygaard 21-16, 21-18 in the championship match of the AVP Best of the Beach at Queen's Beach yesterday in Waikiki.
The second-seeded Scott and Rogers rallied back from the losers' bracket to win the $35,000 prize, making it three straight tournament wins to conclude the AVP season.
Scott, who grew up in Enchanted Lake and played at the University of Hawaii, won the tournament last year under a format where participants played with different players in each match.
"I think that's one of the reasons why I do so well here, just because a lot of my family doesn't get to travel to the mainland to see me play," said Scott, who now resides in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and finished with 20 kills and four blocks in the final. "They might catch a game on TV for a little bit. But to be able to come back and play in front of friends and family, to see it right then and there, really motivates me."
The AVP season started in April with Rogers finishing up his duties as the assistant men's volleyball coach at UC Santa Barbara, leaving little time to train with Scott.
"We had a lot of distraction," Scott said. "Todd was working a lot so we couldn't train full-time. I broke my pinky finger so I was out for a month. Then when we came back, we were off. When we finally had time to train together, it showed."
In yesterday's final, Scott's block was a big factor and his team was able to get a run of points when it mattered the most.
Scott and Rogers took control of Game 1 with a 4-0 run and led 15-8 when Holdren mishandled a pass. An ace by Scott and two kills by Rogers ended the first set 21-16.
Game 2 was tied at 15 before Scott and Rogers got some breathing room with three straight points. Scott had a kill, chased down a ball at the net to set Rogers for a kill and had a block on Nygaard during the run.
Holdren and Nygaard cut the deficit to two twice, the last at 20-18, before Rogers ended it with a cross-court kill that just landed in.
The win was in stark contrast to Saturday's second-round loss to Holdren and Nygaard, in which Scott's block was virtually non-existent.
"We played Dax and Jeff in the second round of the winner's (bracket) and I think I had one block the whole time," Scott said. "I couldn't touch them. This was a real nice time to get the block."
Scott and Rogers began the day in the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament. They defeated fourth-seeded Matt Fuerbringer and Casey Jennings 21-15, 22-20. In the semifinals, Scott and Rogers defeated eighth-seeded Mark Williams and Scott Wong 21-19, 21-12.
Scott and Wong both prepped at Punahou.
"For me, I was trying to take it one game at a time," Scott said. "It was kind of bittersweet. If we lost, I could go surfing in Hawaii and have a few cocktails with my family."
On the women's side, top-seeded Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, gold medalists at the 2004 Olympics, breezed through the tournament, defeating third-seeded Jennifer Kessy and Holly McPeak 21-13, 21-13 in the final.
It was their 10th victory on the tour this year and 15th overall, tying the record for most wins in a season set by Karolyn Kirby and Nancy Reno.
The duo lost just one set during the tournament -- to second-seeded Rachel Wacholder and Elaine Youngs in yesterday's semifinals. They lost the first game 19-21 before rallying to win 21-17, 15-8.
"We had that whole game until we gave up three in a row," Walsh said. "They're too good of a team to let down and we got tentative, which we do against them. We beat them aggressively in the third game and that's how we like to play -- aggressive and on fire."
The top seeds were unstoppable in the championship match. After Kessy and McPeak closed to 15-10 in Game 1, Walsh had two kills and back-to-back blocks on Kessy to make it 19-10. A cross-court kill by Walsh and a ball hit long gave her team the first set.
In Game 2, May-Treanor and Walsh jumped out to a 5-1 lead and weren't threatened the rest of the way. They had a seven-point lead on seven occasions and won the $35,000 prize when Walsh's kill went off Kessy's block and landed out.
Walsh finished with 16 kills and three blocks in the final.
Hawaii has a special meaning to both players. Days before last year's Best of the Beach, Walsh and Jennings got engaged on Molokai. And even though her Stanford team lost the NCAA Championship here her senior year, Walsh says Hawaii, not Disneyland, is the happiest place on Earth.
"What I love about it is everybody is so smart about sports on the island," added May-Treanor, whose father grew up in Hawaii and has family here. "They support their athletic teams. You go to UH, you're a superstar. Their volleyball games, they pack 10,000 people. Everybody knows what's going on. They don't have to, 'oh, what just happened?' What's nice is they don't have favorites. They enjoy great volleyball."