The World Series of Beach Volleyball

Beach Volleyball Return To Long Beach

The Southern Californians took second in the event last year and first in 2014. They are back in pool play against the Liliane Maestrini and Maria Antonelli of Brazil.

In fact, other American women’s teams in the said tournament include Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat, Kelley Larsenv and Betsi Flint, Irene Hester and Emily Day, Summer Ross and Lane Carico and Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes. While the American men’s teams included the Olympians Phil Dalhauser and Nick Lucena, Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson, Long Beach State’s Trevor and Taylor Crabb, John Hyden and Tri Bourne, William Allen and Theodore Brunner and Mark Edwin Burik and Stafford Slick.

The United States of America was unable to win beach volleyball gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics last month for the first time since the sport was added to the summer games. However, the Americans will still get a happy homecoming as they return to Long Beach this weekend for the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball and FIVB World Tour competition.

The week long beach volleyball festival (Aug. 23-28) is back off of Shoreline Drive for a fourth consecutive year. It will once again include coaches clinics, the USA Junior Beach Tour West Coast Championship, the USAV HP Elite Tournament, open enrollment 4’s and 6’s tournaments, live music and the highly anticipated FIVB Tournament featuring some of the best volleyball players in the world.

“(Outside the Olympics) this is the biggest event in the world,” three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings said last year.

Walsh Jennings, who won those medals with former partner Misty May-Treanor, won the bronze medal with new partner April Ross last week in Rio. Both of them will be on hand this weekend in Long Beach to compete against some of the best players in the world in the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam. However, Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, who won gold in Rio, and Brazil’s Agatha and Barbara, the reigning world champions and Rio silver medalists, won’t be competing.

On the men’s side, the American duo of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena are the second seed headed in to the Long Beach Grand Slam behind Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia. Dalhausser and Lucena were eliminated in the quarterfinals at Rio.

Long Beach has a long history of beach volleyball, and after the professional ranks went through a ten year hiatus away from Long Beach, Leonard Armato brought professional beach volleyball back to Shoreline Drive in 2013 for a “festival” celebrating the sport.

With the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) treading water, the WSOBV is now the premier event in America and on the FIVB calendar with about 50,000 fans attending the free event every year. Over 20 million people also watched the FIVB gold medal matches on NBC last year.

The men and women’s qualifiers for the WSOBV started Tuesday and pool play continued on Wednesday. Saturday will feature the quarters and semifinals before the Sunday finals main events.

Fans will have the opportunity to compete in co-ed and single gender 4’s and 6-man, youth, and collegiate tournaments throughout the week.

For the last three years, a group of more than 30 Long Beach State men’s volleyball alumni have organized for a run at the 6’s tournament organized by the National Beach Volleyball Organization, the National Volleyball League and Smack Events. Dustin Watten, who was the libero for Long Beach State from 2006-08 after a decorated career at Long Beach Wilson High, has organized the group and is planning to do the same again this year.

“It’s just a big old-school party,” said Dean Bittner, who is top five in kills, aces and career matches at Long Beach State, said after the 49ers were eliminated in the semifinals last year. “It’s great to get the alumni together, that’s what it’s about.”

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