Summer Volleyball Series

Jose Cuervo
Christal Engle trained with Holly McPeak and will play on the Jose Cuervo tour this summer.

The Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series, in conjunction with IMG Action Sports, returns to the beach for a second season this summer. The series kicked off Memorial Day weekend on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and will tour the United States throughout the summer culminating with the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series National Championships in Huntington Beach, Cal., in September.

With top players signing on to compete, each tournament of the Jose Cuervo Series will be sanctioned by USA Volleyball, and will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network. Admission to all events is free to fans who want to come out and see some of the top beach athletes compete.

“Fans and players can expect the 2012 Cuervo Series to be just as good, and in some cases even better, than last year’s inaugural tour, featuring world-class competition and offering more tour dates, total prize money, and overall entertainment than any tour in the U.S.,” said Brian Radics, brand director for Diageo, the exclusive U.S. distributor of Jose Cuervo. “When we returned to professional beach volleyball last year, we made sure to deliver a top domestic tour and come back in a huge way that fans and players have expected from Jose Cuervo, responsibly, since the ’70s when Jose Cuervo became the sport’s first corporate sponsor.”

As title sponsor of the series, Jose Cuervo will offer a Cuervo Village at every tournament to fans 21 years of age or older, creating a festival-like atmosphere featuring music, consumer contests, giveaways, and of course Jose Cuervo cocktails (where legal) to be enjoyed responsibly.

For more information visit Jose Cuervo Series.

2012 Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series Schedule

Florida Open, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
May 25-27 – $75,000

Belmar Open, Belmar, N.J.
June 22-24 – $75,000

Chicago Open, Chicago, Ill.
July 13-15– $100,000

Hermosa Open, Hermosa Beach, Cal.
July 20-22 – $100,000

Milwaukee Shootout, Bradford Beach, Wis.
August 4-5 – $60,000

Manhattan Beach Open, Manhattan Beach, Cal.
August 24-26 – $100,000

Jose Cuervo National Championships – Huntington Beach, Cal.
September 21-22 – $150,000*

*The 2012 Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series schedule and prize purse is subject to change

Cuervo Series Players to Watch

Partners John Hyden and Sean Scott, along with Christal Engle, will all compete in the Cuervo Series arena this summer, and are looking forward to lighting up the sand.

Christal Engle: A Champion’s Journey

Christal Engle is one of those players who has “champion” written all over her. As an outside hitter at University of Washington, she was named an All-American all four years – the first player in the school’s history to do so. Engle set school records in kills, points, aces, digs, and blocks. In 2003 she was named the Gatorade Player of the Year, and in 2005 she led her team to its first ever national title, being named MVP.

Such a stand-out player is bound to catch the attention of the sport’s elite, and such was the case with beach superstar Holly McPeak. After commentating on one of Engle’s televised matches, McPeak invited the up-and-coming star to get in touch with her. When Engle moved to California in 2008 to try beach volleyball, she took McPeak up on the offer.

“I emailed Holly, asking her to train me,” said Engle. “I said, ‘I want to learn from you.’”

That was the start of a beautiful relationship.

“Holly is an amazing teacher. I learned a ton from her, and I adapted quickly.”

Quickly is right: in just four years Engle has risen to the highest ranks of beach volleyball, regularly squaring off against superstars like Kerri Walsh, Nicole Branaugh, and Rachel Wacholder-Scott, to name just a few.

Currently Engle is playing in the Cuervo Series, which has quickly become one of the top beach circuits. The series has been a big shot in the arm to the sport, said Engle.

“I’m so excited that Jose Cuervo stepped back into the game last year. Beach volleyball has been going through some ups and downs in the last four years, and this is an exciting new tour that gives us hope.”

John Hyden: Master of the Beach Game

John Hyden’s career has seen it all: volleyball scholarship, MVP all four collegiate years, All-American twice. He led the nation in kills in college, notching a record 56 in one match.

In 1995, Hyden played in the World University Games, playing well enough to attract the notice of the national team.

“After my performance at the University Games, they gave me a tryout on the U.S. team. I went there in October of ’95, had my meeting with head coach Fred Sturm.”

But the meeting didn’t go quite as Hyden hoped: “[Sturm] said ‘The Olympic team is pretty much set already, but we’d like to have you around for training.’ It was kind of upsetting, because I wanted to go.”

Fortune, however, was with Hyden. Scott Fortune, that is. When the 1988 gold medalist sprained his ankle, Hyden’s Olympic dream became reality.

Unfortunately, 1996 turned out to be a disappointing year for US Olympic volleyball—and Hyden’s next Olympics in 2000 even more so—but Hyden has no regrets.

“The Olympics was a great experience,” he said.

In 2002 Hyden switched to beach volleyball, moving to California and launching one of the most impressive careers in the sport. But it wasn’t an easy transition.

“It’s a completely different game than indoor,” he said. “For anybody that’s ever played indoor, it’s two different games. There’s definitely a learning curve.”

Nevertheless, Hyden picked up the game quickly, and in just his second year qualified for Best of the Beach, then went on to win the Cincinnati Open with Mike Lambert. In 2007 he won God of the Beach in Vegas, then Best of the Beach again in 2008.

In 2009 he teamed up with his current partner, Sean Scott, and the duo soon became one of the hottest teams on the sand, playing this summer in the Cuervo Series.

Sean Scott: Ready to be Back on Top

Sean Scott has played with so many different partners in his beach volleyball career, he probably can’t remember them all. From his earliest days with Stein Metzger, through five different Olympians, Scott’s 15-year beach career has been a veritable constellation of volleyball stars.

But it wasn’t until 36-year-old Scott hooked up with Olympian John Hyden in 2009 that he started notching truly stellar results. That year the duo won back-to-back AVP events in Atlanta and Ocean City, and then went on a 16-match winning streak. This earned them the top seed in Manhattan Beach – the first time in 24 straight AVP events that this honor had been denied the mighty Dalhausser-Rogers dynasty.

Then, to add injury to insult, Scott and Hyden vanquished Dalhausser and Rogers in Chicago, ending the duo’s epic 34-match winning streak.

Yes, things were looking good for Sean Scott. His years of working hard and paying dues had finally paid off: he’d reached the top of the volleyball heap, and life was sweet.

Then the AVP collapsed.

“There was a lot of uncertainly,” Scott said. “Players were left not knowing what the future held. A lot of people left the sport. Women decided to start families.”

Indeed, it was during this period that Scott and his wife, Rachel Wacholder-Scott, decided to have their second child.

Then, in 2011, new life was breathed into the faltering beach scene by the Cuervo Series.

“Jose Cuervo resurrected the sport,” Scott said. “They came in as the No. 1 tour last year. When they came back on board, everyone was excited. To step back in and support us is very reassuring to both the players and the marketplace.”

Scott said he is pumped about the upcoming summer tour.

“I’m excited about the coming season. There’s more prize money, more events – I’m ready to get back out there.”

Originally published in June 2012

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