What more could you ask for? The thirteenth stop of the AVP Professional Volleyball tour brought some of the worlds finest players to Manhattan Beach, CA. A few friends invited me to come along with them and watch the matches on Saturday. Having been an avid player years ago, I jumped at the offer. And, well, it’s the beach. How could I resist? 🙂
And another reason I wanted to go was to see Karch Kiraly on his farewell tour. Kiraly is simply a volleyball legend and one of the best players out on the sand. I grew up watching him spiking balls into his opponents and hitting ace after ace. Kiraly, who is retiring at the end of this season, is a 10 time champion of the Manhattan Beach Open. While he didn’t play because of a calf injury, he was properly honored and said a few words to his fans. And in classic Kiraly fashion, he sat in his rocking chair, sat back and watched the games as the king of the court that he is.
In one of the first matches I watched, I was able to see another fantastic player dominate the court. Phil Dalhausser, otherwise known at “The Thin Beast”, stands at a intimidating 6’9″. Dalhausser/Rogers are the leaders of the Men’s AVP Cup Standings, but were no match for Medel/Souza who defeated them 14-21, 21-13, 15-13.
But the absolute highlight was being on the court for the Women’s Finals where the #1 team took on the #2 in a simply amazing match. Misty May-Treanor / Kerri Walsh (1) defeated Nicole Branagh / Elaine Youngs (2) 15-21, 21-7, 15-12 in a battle of perseverance and pain. Branagh/Youngs took the first set resoundingly and were looking good in the second set. But Youngs sustained major cramps in a nagging calf injury and had to forfeit the second set. After a lengthy injury timout, and Youngs in obvious pain, they continued through the third set and made May-Treanor/Walsh earn their third consecutive Manhattan Beach Open title, and 15th overall tournament this season.
Televised live on NBC, the center court was rocking and the crowd was on their feet!
My seat for the match was next to the NBC tv crew and as close as you can get. 🙂
Walsh (R) blocking Branagh (L) on the net.
Kerri Walsh waiting for the serve.
Elaine Youngs grimacing in pain as her calf cramps up.
Elaine Youngs plays through the pain in the third set.
Kerri Walsh kicking up a wave of sand as she goes down for a dig.
Misty May-Treanor / Kerri Walsh taking the podium.
After the Women’s Finals ended, I went over to watch Mike Lambert / Stein Metzger (1) defeat Brent Doble / Matt Olson (11) 21-19, 21-17 . Lamber/Metzger were the top seeds, but were later defeated by Medel/Souza.
Brent Doble arching for a monster serve! I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that.