Hamburg, Germany, June 7, 2016 - This was no “just happy to be here” moment for Billy Allen of the United States.
After Allen and Theo Brunner captured the Association of Volleyball Professionals Seattle Open on Sunday, the newly minted duo raced to the airport and suddenly found themselves right in the thick of qualifying in the FIVB smart Hamburg Major on Tuesday.
Despite a pretty nerve-wracking couple of days of travel, Allen discovered what all the fuss is about on the FIVB World Tour as he stepped onto the court at Am Rothenbaum stadium for his first international tournament away from the United States and southern California.
It wasn’t a bad debut at all, with Brunner and Allen scoring a 21-17, 16-21, 15-10 win over Simon Fruhbauer and Jorg Wutzl of Austria in their first qualifying match. Later in the day, they scored a 21-18, 21-18 win over Russia’s Dmitri Barsouk and Nikita Liamin to reach the 32-team main draw, which begins Wednesday.
“Yeah, it’s tough not knowing the (opponents),” said Allen, whose Seattle win on United States domestic tour was his first. “I’ve just got to play it as it goes, but it’s also good they don’t know me and they don’t know my tricks.”
It came after a rather harrowing schedule. They had to play their scheduled final on Sunday at 1 p.m. PDT, but it took some logistical luck to pull everything off.
“The match was at 1,” Brunner explained. “We dropped our bags off at the airport at 12:20, got to the match at 12:40, played and as soon as it was over, we sprinted to the airport and we would have missed the flight but it was delayed by 20 minutes. We flew straight here and got in at 5 (Monday) night.”
Straight is not exactly direct. The duo flew from Seattle to San Francisco to Frankfurt before finding their way to Hamburg.
“It’s definitely good for us,” said Brunner, who has played internationally most recently with Sean Rosenthal, Nick Lucena and Todd Rogers. “The first AVP (together) in Huntington Beach and then Seattle, we played really well in both, beat some good teams in both. We’re confident we can beat anyone here. It’s just a matter of getting used to the time change, him getting his first FIVB, so it’s going good.”