6-man spirit rises from the pandemic
by Kevin Cody
The International Surf Festival Charlie Saikley 6-Man Volleyball Tournament was resurrected from the pandemic tomb, appearing as glorious as in its early days, before social media, and before the suffocating restrictions imposed by the city in recent years.
“It looked like a Robi Hutas photo,” said Chris Brown, referring to the California Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame photographer, whose black and white, panoramics of center court, surrounded by 10-deep crowds, helped create Manhattan’s reputation as the Wimbledon of beach volleyball.
Brown is a founding member of the three-decades old 12th Street Bar and Grill 6-Man Team, which last won the tournament in 2014, and reclaimed the title on Saturday.
Pool play began Friday with 34 teams.
“We had a tough pool, ending with a match against Good Stuff, the number one seed. They were loaded with young talent, including AVP players Devon Burki, and Weston Carico; Jack Walmer (four year Mira Costa High varsity player); and Sebastian Rodriquez (four-year Redondo High varsity player). But we did what we had to do. We won 11-7, 11-8,” Brown said.
In contrast to pool play, 12th Street rolled through Saturday’s Round of 16, winning all five of its matches by 10 points or more, including the finals against SoHo Yoga.
SoHo’s owner is former NBA star Richard Jefferson, and his team was stacked with former pro basketball and volleyball players, including Chase Budinger (Houston Rockets, AVP), David Lee (three-time indoor volleyball Olympian, 2008 bronze medalist), and Troy Field (AVP).
12th Street’s team also had prominent players, among them Eric Fonoimonana (2000 Olympics gold medalist), Brian Ivey (1992 indoor Olympics bronze medalist), Brian Lewis (AVP 1989-98), and David Swatik (Mira Costa, UCLA, AVP). Though their peak playing years date back decades, 12th Street, like SoHo, also had some young hitters. Lewis enlisted brother-in-law Travis Woloson, and Connor Hughes, both members of UC Irvine’s two-time NCAA championship team, along with Will Price (U.S. national volleyball team).
“Everyone was asking, ‘Who are these guys?’ They played lights out on Saturday,” Brown said.
The Surf Festival also hosted a two-man, California Beach Volleyball Association tournament in Hermosa Beach over the weekend.
Top finishers in the AAA division were Men: Peter Cannoli and Silila Tucker, of Texas; and Samantha Parrish, of Hermosa Beach, and Madison Shields, of El Dorado Hills.
Bryan Machado and Joe Snee, of Redondo Beach, won the Men’s B title. ER