For five seasons Rachel Wacholder toiled in obscurity. There were times when she felt defeated and thought about leaving the AVP, but in 2005 she teamed up with Elaine Youngs and found the professional volleyball success she had been working for her whole career.
A Laguna Beach native, Wacholder was a high school volleyball standout and was named California State Player of the Year. She attended the University of Colorado where she was named to the Big 12 All-Conference team twice.
After college Wacholder made a run at the AVP tour, playing with 8 different partners and bringing in just over $83,000 from 1999 to 2004.
But since the 2005 season Wacholder has been in 21 championship matches, the fourth most of any player. She and Youngs, aka “EY,” took down the seemingly invincible duo of Misty May-Traenor and Kerri Walsh three times in 2005 to bring home three AVP championships. Wacholder was named Best Defensive Player that year as well as Most Improved on the AVP.
2006 brought Wacholder and EY two more wins before some on-court fireworks led to a dissolution of the partnership. After the split Wacholder paired up with Jennifer Kessy and made it to four semifinals and two finals. She and Tyra Turner, her partner for both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, were the fourth-ranked team on the AVP tour.
She helped Kerri Walsh earn the Goddess of the Beach title in 2004 following two international tournament victories (Misty May-Traenor had an abdominal injury) and partnered with Walsh again in August 2009 when Misty tore her Achilles tendon. Both Walsh and Wacholder were new mothers (Wacholder’s son was born in April 2009, Walsh’s in May), but they brought their A-game and made it through to the quarterfinals before falling in three games to Jennifer Kessy and April Ross.
Asked by the LA Times how she felt after the game, Wacholder said, “Actually, I’m going to fill my bathtub with ice and sit in it tonight. I’ve never done that before. That’s how achy my legs are.”
Walsh and Wacholder are also both married to fellow AVP athletes; Wacholder married Sean Scott in 2007, while Walsh is married to Casey Jennings. In case those weren’t enough commonalities, the two women are also among only four to win over $100,000 in a single AVP season (their partners May-Traenor and Youngs are the other two).
The 2010 season will be an interesting one for Wacholder, now 34, and not just because she’s coming back from a pregnancy. She’ll be reuniting with her former partner Elaine Youngs after Youngs’ partner Nicole Branagh signed on to play this season with Misty May-Traenor. EY and Wacholder were known for their fiery on-court relationship, and one forum puts the over/under for their partnership at 6 months.
But whatever results Wacholder sees through the reunion, she’s got to be happy with the professional, financial and personal results she’s seen on the AVP in the past five years.
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