Welcome back to the Hot Stove! Let’s quickly recap to get back up to speed on the men’s side:
Kevin Wong started the madness by ending his two-year partnership with Matt Olson and picking up “Mr. Boom!” himself, Casey Patterson. Matt Fuerbringer followed suit and filed divorce papers with seven-year partner Casey Jennings, landing three insane defenders back on the market: Olson, Loomis and Jennings.
Uncertain during last month’s edition was the future of Brad Keenan and Nick Lucena. Were they going to stick it out after a sub-par year? Were they content with a sixth-place finish in the 2009 end-of-year rankings and less than $60,000 in individual earnings? Were there enough horse tranquilizers in Brad’s backpack to support another season of sedating Nick when he decided it was time to liberate his “game face”? No. To all of the above. What pains me now is the fact that I’m not standing over a kitchen stove burning a photo of them because their partnership has, in fact, gone up in flames.
Okay, I reached a bit with that one. But their team photo isn’t the only one I wish could go back to the kitchen and ignite. With everything that has gone down, as the dominos have fallen in every different direction, partnerships have dissolved like Tiger Woods’ endorsement deals.
Carly! We need to burn photos! Carly! Carly!?
Holy…? Why am I yelling for my trusted sidekick, brilliant cinematographer and Hot Stove producer Carly Keese, here at Starbucks with my headphones on? Because I forgot where I was.
The fact remains, more teams have bitten the dust than I had previously predicted. You’ll have to accept my sincerest apologies for missing out on a golden opportunity to utilize the stove.
Either way, let’s do this!
Where to start? We’re in Hermosa. Why not kick things off at my former teammate Aaron Wachtfogel’s pad? He lives like a block off the ocean; why wouldn’t we? Especially with Olson, Loomis, Lucena, Jennings and possibly Johnny Mayer on the table. Gargantuan blockers have become even hotter commodities, and Aaron’s partner during 2009, Bill Strickland, is 6’9” enough to receive portfolio inquiries from all the game’s best.
So, that cleared up nothing. Plenty of question marks for Wachtfogel heading into 2010, but absolutely no love lost for one of the all-time great volley songs, “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” by Chip-Man and the Buckwheat Boyz.
Next stop: Long Beach. The LBC. Snoop! Snoop-a-loop!
Rumors abound regarding a certain multi-platinum singer-songwriter, Mr. John Mayer, and it’s time to get to the bottom of them. He traveled to China with Matt Fuerbringer, he wants to play on the FIVB, he has Olympic aspirations…but his current partner, Jeff Nygaard, has already done all those things (except travel with Fuerbs), and he’s a rare three-time Olympian to boot (two indoor, one beach). Something’s gotta give, right? Why don’t we walk down Charlemagne Lane and find out…
That squelches that. Nygaard/Mayer is a lock for 2010. I mean, as much a lock as one can get in the sport of beach volleyball. You saw the look on Jeff’s face.…
Where does that leave us but right back at the start, with nothing substantial yet to report. It’s time to take this invasive interrogation to the next level. We’re going all the way to Santa Ana. Yeah, that Santa Ana. Where Matt Leinart’s parents live. Just west of Arizona.
With Olson, Loomis and Jennings still up for grabs, I’m putting Brad Keenan on the spot to acquire my first piece of groundbreaking news.
Keenan/Jennings! Something official to report! It feels so good.
With Brad electing to go with the veteran Jennings over the two young up-and-comers, the question now presents itself, who’s left out there for these guys to call?
Matt Fuerbringer, that’s who…
Six-time AVP champion making the toughest decision of his career. Loving every rise and fall of the rollercoaster that characterized his partnership with Casey Jennings. But all great things must come to an end.
I will say this: Fuerbringer/Lucena is going to be a gnarly team. Mark my words.
Hot Stove Recap: Jeff Nygaard/John Mayer back together again. Brad Keenan/Casey Jennings and Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena looking to start something special. Aaron Wachtfogel eagerly awaiting word from Tom Petty on stilts. Matt Olson still a complete question mark. Ty Loomis also still a complete question mark.
Note: Aaron Wachtfogel’s video segment could have realistically been 28 minutes. 28 minutes of pure comical genius. “Pimp My Ride” combined with “Cribs.” But unfortunately I was only there for one answer.
For Olson, I tried getting him to drive north from San Diego to be a part of the Hot Stove (wouldn’t have been much of a surprise to meet him at the local Coco’s off the 405—desperate times called for desperate measures) but his schedule was too busy to accommodate my ludicrous whim.
I believe it’s time to check back in with Aaron and Matt, only this time via text message. Maybe they’ve managed to sequester a few answers out of their top choices.
“Aaron, any word from the big fella? Or is he still out getting lap dances?”
“Yes Sir! I locked down my top pick for 2010, Bill ‘Instant Justice’ Strickland. I’m excited to build on the momentum we created at the end of last season and excited to continue to develop our partnership. It’s the first time in my career I’ll be starting a new season with the same partner I finished with, so hopefully having experience together will put us in the elite level of teams right out of the gates in 2010.”
I can always count on Aaron to pull through. As for Olson, he’s going with one of the year’s biggest dark horses.
“I’m going with big Mike Morrison. I couldn’t be happier with the start of our training and look forward to 2010, both domestically and internationally.”
And then he threw in a “Happy New Year!” What a guy.
Key ingredient to his statement is the inclusion of “internationally.” Or, in other words, another team willing to travel across the pond to try its hand against the world’s best. I wish Matt and Mike the best of luck; couldn’t ask for two nicer guys on the beach.
And last but not least, Ty Loomis. Just confirmed at press time: Loomis has pried Matt Prosser away from Brazilian Pedro Brazao.
“We are confirmed for sure,” Loomis said of teaming up with Prosser. “Our coach is Jeff Conover, who has already worked us out four times this year. Jeff is awesome and is working us out hard. Pross is also a monster at the net! It is going to be super nice to rip my jump serve, get other teams in trouble, and then watch Prosser take over the net from there!”
Loomis will switch to the right side after four seasons on the left and play defense full-time behind Prosser’s steady block.
End result: Morrison’s former teammate Eyal Zimet is now looking for a new big guy, as is two-time third-place finisher Brazao. When they lock in their picks, don’t think the Hot Stove won’t be right there to report it.
Women’s Hot Stove teaser: As reported on AVP.com, Misty May-Treanor has elected to partner with Nicole Branagh for 2010, leaving Elaine Youngs back on the market looking. Word is she’s chosen to reunite with former partner Rachel Wacholder, which I personally cannot wait to witness. We all know how that ended last time.
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