When Volleyball Ventures' co-eds play, the beach volleyball scene in Manhattan Beach becomes spirited and fun as amateurs and the more serious players get a chance to mingle and play volleyball nearly the entire day.
On the south side of the Manhattan Beach Pier yesterday, players got in their digs during a co-ed doubles tournament divided into three levels of play.
“It's awesome,” said Redondo Beach resident Thuy Nguyen-Perez said after winning the highly competitive division one with Bob Trapnell. “I always have a blast playing in these things. My husband is always here cheering for me to the very end. He's my biggest fan. Love him!”
Earlier in the day before elimination rounds began, Nguyen-Perez told Manhattan Beach Patch that her biggest challenge of the day would be her height of 5'2".
But when she and Trapnell faced the tall, lanky Craig Mattision and his partner Susan Postnikoff for the title, they overcame that obstacle.
Said Trapnell, “You can't teach height. She [Nguyen-Perez] and I are both small, and we played a couple of 'big bangers'—solid players—and luckily our consistency was more solid than their hitting—[like] ball control.”
Mattison proved to be a challenge despite the win, said Nguyen-Perez.
“Digging Craig—keeping that [the ball] away from the big guy...we don't want the big guy to get his hands on it [the ball],” she said.
Humble after the loss, Mattison said Nguyen-Perez and Trapnell were the hardest overall match he competed against that day.
In a June 4th Volleyball Ventures competition, Mattison and Nguyen-Perez claimed the division one title.
How did that happen?
Part of the fun and appeal of Volleyball Ventures is that players are grouped by skill levels and play under a point system. They don't sign up for the day's play as a doubles entry and have a chance to play with various partners before the top point getters are paired for elimination rounds. The group also supplies breakfast, snacks, lunch and beverages throughout play and gives out prizes.
On Saturday, Hermosa Beach resident Ryan Whitaker, recovering from a recent injury, took advantage of the option to be less competitive.
“Today was a special day for me—it was my first time playing after having surgery in June. It was all about getting back into it...I wasn't even jumping at all today. I had a disadvantage,” said Whitaker.
“You can do worse than hanging out with girls in bikinis,” he said.
Division three finalist (the least competitive division) and second-place finisher Steve Kesmodel, when asked about his favorite part of beach volleyball, agreed.
“The ladies—that's an easy one [an easy question],” said the Manhattan Beach resident.
Division two was taken by Andrew Brown and Jenny Yamada, beating Kamila Whitson and Chris Martin. Division three was won by Lety Munoz and Ray Dessault, who beat Brooke Branham and Kesmodel.
Volleyball Ventures charges a $35 membership fee. Each tournament costs $25 to enter. Its tournaments are designed to maximize a participant's playing time. E-mail Patrick Mejia or call him at 310-735-7251. Visit the website for more information or to register online to become a member.