Hermosa Brothers Maddison McKibbin and Riley McKibbin Swap Sand for Snow
- Written & photographed byKat Monk
Growing up in Hawaii, volleyball players Maddison McKibbin and Riley McKibbin felt right at home on the beach court. According to fellow beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb, “They are not only entertaining to watch, but they have gotten people excited about the sport with the brand they have built.”
They came stateside with an opportunity to play indoors at USC. After graduation they grew their signature beards and took to South Bay beaches with their game. But all that would change when Riley got a text from a promoter for Snow Volley Italia.
“The Russians’ strategy and experience was something we most certainly were not prepared for. That match could have easily gone either way, and it was one of the hardest-fought battles any of us have ever been a part of.”
Volleyball played on snow is a relatively new sport for the United States but has been around for decades in countries like Russia, Austria and Switzerland. Unlike beach volleyball’s two-player teams, three players compete on each side of the court.
The additional player adds to the excitement, with a lot more touches and longer rallies. The event was showcased as recently as the 2018 Winter Olympics, and there is hope it could become an official Olympic sport.
Having never played in the snow before, Maddison and Riley teamed up with Troy Field of Laguna Beach and flew to Italy. After completing their obligation with the Italian snow volleyball league, they traveled to the Dolomites—mountains in Kronplatz—to compete in an International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) tournament.
Though just a “side team” for the U.S., they battled their way through a blizzard to the qualifier. It was so incredibly windy they couldn’t even get their serves over the net, but they still prevailed. With fresh snow on the ground for the rest of the tourney, it “was like playing in Heaven,” says Riley.
Next up is playing Russia in the finals. “For over 90% of that match we did not think we would come out victorious,” shares Riley. “The Russians’ strategy and experience was something we most certainly were not prepared for. That match could have easily gone either way, and it was one of the hardest-fought battles any of us have ever been a part of.”
In a nail-biting final, the “side team” became the world champions of snow volleyball.