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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, September 25, 2004

Scott's breakout year continues at home

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

It came down to a coin toss to decide which former Punahou player would advance out of their pool at the AVP Best of the Beach tournament yesterday at Queen's Beach in Waikiki.

Sean Scott

But for Sean Scott and Kevin Wong, it didn't really matter.

After playing to 2-1 records and tying in games won and lost (4-3), and points for and against (132-129), the winner — Scott — advanced by correctly guessing heads.

But before the coin toss the two met, "in our office, the shade under the coconut trees," according to Wong, and agreed to split the winnings regardless of who advanced.

"That way, there was positive energy all around," said Scott, who said knowing Wong since high school aided in the decision. "It had a lot to do with it; we played together at Punahou, we were friends in high school, and we're both from Hawai'i."

Each player received $500 for participating, and $2,000 for each first-round win. The earnings for second-round wins — which Scott advanced to — is $3,500. The winner of the tournament receive $12,500, the runner-up receives $5,000.

WHAT: Best of the Beach

WHERE: Queen's Beach

WHEN: Today's Schedule—Jennifer Kessy/Holly McPeak vs. Annett Davis/Jenny Johnson Jordan, 9 a.m.; Larry Witt/George Roumain vs. Mike Lambert/Sean Scott, 10 a.m.; Kerri Walsh/Barbra Fontana vs. Elaine Youngs/Leanne McSorley, 11 a.m.; Jake Gibb/Eric Fonoimoana vs. Casey Jennings/John Hyden, noon. Women's final, 2 p.m. Men's final, 20 minutes following women's final.

FORMAT: Top 16 women and men from 2004 play with different partner each match. Players who advance to final can choose their partner for championship match, as long as he/she is not their usual partner.

PURSE: $150,000

TV: Tape delayed tomorrow, 8:30 a.m. (News8). One-hour rebroadcast at 5 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 7 (Fox Sports Net)

TICKETS: General admission free. Beach Club $50; reserved $25.

RESULTS: For the Record

The Best of the Beach concludes today at Queen's Beach. The second round continues at 9 a.m. The women's final will be played at 2 p.m., with the men to follow.

"He's been playing really great," said Wong, who will now help "coach" Scott. "I just wanted a piece of Sean Scott."

It has been that kind of year for Scott, who picked up his first Association of Volleyball Professionals tour win in April. Six of his career 12 final fours were this season.

The Kailua native attributes his success to the continuity of playing with partner Todd Rogers for the past three years.

"This year we jelled and started to come together," Scott said.

He said the duo's third-place finish in Olympic qualifying also had an impact. The top two teams went to Athens.

"That whole process: the physical stress, the mental stress, you're on the road 2 months," he said. "It kind of conditions you to deal with stressful conditions."

Scott, 31, said he hasn't decided whether to pursue a berth for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"I'm disappointed in not making the Olympics," he said. "Obviously I wanted to go. But 2008 is just too far away right now. I plan on playing AVP domestically and we'll see what happens."

Another factor for his success could be that he was joined on the AVP tour with girlfriend of two years, Rachel Wacholder, who teamed with Kerri Walsh to win two FIVB (international) tournaments this year.

"It helps support-wise when you have a bad day at the 'office,' " he said.

Scott, who played at the University of Hawai'i from 1992 to 1995, won the first beach volleyball tournament he played in — at the Aloha State Games in 1996 with teammate Stevie Li. That summer alsoo was the last time he played volleyball competitively in Hawai'i.

Scott dabbled in beach volleyball while in high school. He had a pass for the Outrigger Canoe Club after playing on a Junior Olympic Team with future Olympians and fellow Punahou teammates Mike Lambert and Stein Metzger.

"He always had the reputation in high school and in college as being a hard worker, being humble and doing everything extra," said Lambert, who also advanced to the second round.

Scott is a proponent of volleyball players of all ages to play on the beach.

"Anyone serious about playing indoor, you should play outdoor," he said, saying players touch the ball on every play, learn how to block and read the game better, and strengthen their legs from playing on the sand.

His professional career began slowly, because he was still nursing a lower back injury and had a hard adjustment moving from Kailua to Los Angeles.

He broke on to the scene in 1999, earning AVP Rookie of the Year honors.

"He's one of the top big men on the tour," Lambert said of the 6-foot-5 Scott. "He blocks well, sets well and has good ball control."

Playing well this season qualified Scott for a spot in the Best of the Beach, which invited the top 16 men and women players on the tour. Having the tournament at home gave him a chance to consolidate a few of his favorite things.

"It's great to be back in Hawai'i," Scott said. "I get to see my family, be on the beach, and play volleyball."

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.