It's been a different type of season for Rachel (Wacholder) Scott on the national Assn. of Volleyball Professionals beach volleyball tour, but it will conclude this weekend for the former Laguna Beach High athlete on familiar sand.
Scott, a 1993 graduate of Laguna Beach, will close out the tour when she and playing partner Jen Kessy vie for the women's title at the smart AVP Championships at Huntington Beach. The four-day tournament, the last of seven stops on the 2013 AVP Tour, started Thursday and concludes with women's and men's championship finals Sunday at the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier.
The tournament began with an open qualifier Thursday. Main draw action is both Friday and Saturday. Scott and Kessy will play their first match at 1:40 p.m. Friday.
Among the top athletes contending for Huntington Beach titles are three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and Olympic silver medalist April Ross on the women's side, and Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, and two-time Olympians Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb, on the men's side.
Scott, the mother of two and married to former AVP men's standout, Sean Scott, said the past few AVP seasons have been unique.
"The tour has been questionable for me these last few years," the Redondo Beach resident said. "I have two young kids, and they announced the [AVP] schedule late, so I wasn't sure what would happen with this season."
Scott, 38, will be playing Friday in her fourth tournament of the current AVP tour which started in August at Salt Lake City, Utah. She previously partnered with Annett Davis (Manhattan Beach Open), and for two tournaments (Cincinnati Open, Santa Barbara Open) with Morgan Miller.
Scott and Davis finished 13th at the Manhattan Beach Open, and Scott and Miller finished ninth (Cincinnati Open) and seventh (Santa Barbara Open) in their two tourney appearances.
Kessy had been partnered on the tour with April Ross, and the two, who won silver at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, had won a pair of AVP events (Salt Lake City Open, St. Petersburg Open) this year. Ross recently has formed a new partnership with Walsh Jennings and the pair won their first title in their first AVP tournament as team, the Santa Barbara Open, Sept. 29.
Kessy, a former Laguna Beach resident, then came calling on Scott.
Scott said the two had previously partnered for the second half of the 2006 season.
"Jen was looking for a partner, and called me," Scott explained. "I was shocked. She's such a great player, and I couldn't say 'no.' I was really flattered that she asked me to play."
Scott said her training for the current season hasn't been up to par. She knows what's expected on the tour, the grind of it all. She also knows the winners' circle at Huntington Beach, having reached it with then-partner Elaine Youngs when they won the women's title in 2005.
Scott and Youngs were runner-up to the 2006 women's title, and Scott and Tyra Turner finished third in 2008, at Huntington.
It was in the 2005 season that Scott was named the AVP Women's Best Defensive Player and Most Improved Player. She had the second-most kills and digs on the tour during both for the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
She has reached 23 championship match appearances since the 2005 AVP season.
As for her and Kessy's chances this weekend in Huntington, Scott feels confident.
"I feel we can make an impact, although I wish I were in better shape going into it," said Scott, who recently attended the Laguna Beach High Class of 1993's 20th reunion. "I really hadn't been doing a lot of training during this season, but I'll be ready for Huntington. I'm looking forward to it."
Another Laguna Beach athlete, Whitney Pavlik, has had success on this year's AVP tour, but the former Mater Dei High star won't compete this weekend at Huntington Beach due to injury. Pavlik won the Manhattan Beach Open in August with Walsh Jennings. The duo also has one second-, one fifth-, and a pair of third-place tournament finishes on the tour.
Pavlik teamed with Annett Davis last month and finished ninth at the Santa Barbara Open.
AVP Schedule of Events
At Huntington Beach Pier
Friday: Main Draw, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday: Main Draw, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.