The Santa Barbara Open has never been just a beach volleyball tournament, let’s be honest. But don’t just take it from me; take it from the energy this gorgeous beach town single-handedly brings to the tour every year it hosts an event, and take it from a few new “personal” touches in store for this weekend’s AVP NIVEA Tour Progressive Insurance Santa Barbara Open Benefiting Komen for the Cure.…
The most visible new addition this weekend will be Susan G. Komen and KFC’s “Buckets For the Cure” campaign. It won’t just be pink banners leading the dramatic color charge to bring more awareness to the fight against breast cancer; the AVP is encouraging all main draw players to wear a Pink Ribbon tattoo or a throw-back pink Karch Kiraly-style hat during play. Susan G. Komen will also have an informational booth onsite. And just to make sure no fan is left behind, pink rally towels will be distributed to all fans on Sunday for the finals.
One person in attendance this weekend who will blissfully be donning pink is two-time Olympic gold medalist and all-around phenomenal mom Kerri Walsh. She won’t necessarily be as visible as Susan G., but she certainly won’t be missed as she happily joins the ESPN, KTLA and Universal Sports broadcast with Dain Blanton and Chris “Geeter” McGee. ESPN2 is carrying the men’s final live at 5:30 p.m. Eastern, KTLA has the women’s final live in the L.A. area at 4:30 p.m. Pacific, and Universal Sports has the women’s final tape-delayed at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, in case you just so happen to live outside the Southland. What I foresee Walsh bringing to the broadcast simply isn’t quantifiable. She quite honestly is the most likable human being on the planet, she exudes sweetness, and her enthusiasm for the game translates through every word we’ll be lucky enough to hear.
CBS College Sports’ Alt Games Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship will also accompany AVP action this weekend, giving beach fans a sweet taste of what’s officially to come for the NCAA in 2011.
Before I conclude, I’d be remiss not to mention a snippet from the men’s final the last time we visited Santa Barbara in 2008. John Hyden and Brad Keenan up 14-9 on Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers in the third set of the championship match. Phil and Todd sideout. Phil stuffs Hyden after reaching over the net so far he could touch John’s ears prior to the spike. Phil stuffs Hyden again, only this time into the extreme angle. Keenan catches the top of the tape on an angle swing that would have won him his first and only title, but instead veers out of bounds by mere inches. And Brad gets blocked on a tight set that had Phil licking his lips prior to gobbling up to tie it at 14-14. Both teams sideout back and forth. Dalhausser and Rogers take the advantage with never-before-seen smiles on their faces and thoughts of jubilation in their steps, and serve out the match at 19-18. Hyden goes with the insane turn-back to the line, Rogers digs him but sprays it off the back of the court, Dalhausser runs it down, dives and rolls it back to Rogers who then bumps it over with enough height to give Phil time to sprint back to the net, jump off the sand and block Hyden’s angle hit straight down for the title. I just got goose bumps thinking about it.
Note: Our one-time seeding “draw” experiment has been eliminated in the good nature of the game and maintaining tradition. A player’s best four out of last five finishes returns to its rightful home as the determining factor for both entry points and seeding. And trust me, as fans of the game, the fewer complications the better.
With that said, see you all in God’s country.
No comments yet.