A Sport’s Thrills and Volleys

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As we head towards spring, not only will the temperature rise, the landscape of high school sports will shift as well.

Basketball and soccer are over, and it’s time to welcome in baseball, lacrosse, swimming, track and field, and one of my favorite sports of all-time: volleyball.

Volleyball is synonymous with Southern California – from the multitudes of professional players that have come from Orange County to the ridiculous movies “Sideout” and “Impact Point,” which starred ex-“90210” star Brian Austin Green.

Aside from those blemishes, volleyball has been an institution in California since its beginnings.  Indoor volleyball never gained as much popularity as beach volleyball, perhaps because the indoor game is more technical as opposed to the beach game, which is based more on blocking and placement shots.

Watching the two is a completely different experience, as well. This spring, when we watch our high-schoolers play indoors we’ll be treated to confusing pre-serve setups to disguise the play calls, much higher verticals than you would see on sand, longer rallies, and an overall more technical game.

The beach gives us a power blocking match with dink and dunk shots since so much of the court is open.  Basically it’s 6-man with indoor game versus a 2-man game on the beach.

In my opinion, indoor is more like a back and forth tennis match.

The college indoor game is much more comparable to beach volleyball because of the incredible size and power of the attackers and blockers.  It’s typically a sideout game rather than a rally-based game.

Most recently, beach volleyball has garnered attention because of women players, not men.  Kerri Walsh and Newport Harbor alum Misty May Treanor impressed the world when they won gold in Beijing in 2008.  The U.S. men also won gold in Beijing, but they didn’t have the same charisma that the women did.  Treanor holds many Association of Volleyball Professionals records including career wins and consecutive match victories.

The most well-known beach players on the men’s side include the likes of Sinjin Smith, Dain Blanton, Todd Rogers, the beast that is Phil Dalhausser, and the undisputed champion of the volleyball world Karch Kiraly.  Karch was an outstanding indoor player in his younger days, and an even better beach player.

I was heartbroken in November when I heard that the AVP filed for bankruptcy and claimed they had in the low six-figures in assets but owed in middle seven-figures to the tour winners.  It’s a wonderful sport that just couldn’t get as much of a crowd as others could.  Even broadcasting tournaments live on NBC every Saturday couldn’t boost the AVP’s ratings.

Regardless, volleyball will always be an entertaining sport, to me at least, and the future of the game lies with our youth.

This spring I really encourage Newport Beach to come out and watch this game if you haven’t before.  You’ll be amazed at what these kids can do.

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