A few years ago, former pro beach volleyball standout Albert Hanneman founded the National Volleyball League in Hermosa Beach but, until this year, he was unable to get a tournament at the beach only a couple of blocks from where the office is on Pier Avenue.
Over the past few decades where it was the prestigious Association of Volleyball Professionals, which briefly folded three years ago right before the famous nearby Manhattan Beach Open but is back with a seven-tournament tour of the United States, and, over the past two years, Jose Cuervo that hosted the Hermosa Open.
With the AVP not having the Hermosa Tournament and Cuervo dropping its pro beach volleyball tournaments, it gave Hanneman and his NVL the opportunity to host a tournament in Hermosa and called it the West Coast Beach Volleyball Championships.
Approximately 80 men's and women's two-person teams participated in the classic that started on Friday and ended on Sunday with the duos of Christie Jenkins of Australia and Polish native Iwona Lodzik, who now lives in Chicago, coming out on top for the women's division, and a San Diego team of Mike Morrison and Derek Olsen winning the men's crown.
For Jenkins and Lodzik, it was their first pro championship as they topped Kathrin "Kiwi" Winkler of Costa Mesa and Briana Hinga from San Diego, 21-12, 21-18.
Jenkins is a former gymnast that decided to take up volleyball two and a half years ago. She entered the Australian pro beach volleyball tour since, but was able to win her first crown with Lodzik in Hermosa.
Morrison and Olsen swept Austin Restner and Mike Placek but Restner and Placek were able to put up a fight, including being ahead of Morrison and Olsen through much of the second match. Morrison and Olsen were finally able to win the title with 21-15 and 21-18 victories.
With the crowns in this $50,000 tournament, each of the two champions split their $7,500 prize money.
Beginning Friday and lasting through next Sunday will be the 53rd Annual Manhattan Beach Open that returns to the AVP after a three-year absense. Expected will be two of the top American duos who are becoming this year's pro beach volleyball rivals in Redondo Beach's Sean Rosenthal and two-time Olympic gold medalist Phil Dauhauser from Florida, and Rosenthal's ex-partner Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson. A few weeks ago in the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam and World Series of Beach Volleyball, each won a title with Rosenthal and Dalhauser winning the gold medal in the Grand Slam and Gibb and Patterson taking the World Series.
The AVP had its tournament in Salt Lake City over this past weekend with both of those duos involved.