Successful summers end for young beach volleyball players

While competition heats up on the domestic professional beach volleyball circuit, the amateur season is winding down as many local players enjoyed success on the sand this summer.

At the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Tour Championships held in Hermosa Beach, competition was highlighted by an all-South Bay championship match in the girl’s 18U division.

The Hermosa Beach team of Katrina Kernochan and Zana Muno took home the gold with a win over Sylar Caputo (Manhattan Beach) and Bryce Bark (Palos Verdes Estates).

In the girl’s 16U age group, Gianna Genova (Manhattan Beach) and Avery Hazelrigg (Hermosa Beach) took first place. The bronze medal winning team consisted of Lauren Gurbach (Manhattan Beach) and Lillian Sullivan (Hermosa Beach).

After winning numerous titles in the girl’s 12U age group, Maia Hannemann (Hermosa Beach) and Mandalay Rennon (Rancho Santa Margarita ) moved up to the 14U division and reached the championship match. The duo finished with silver medals while Chloe Newton (Hermosa Beach) and Ryan D’Angelo (El Segundo) were bronze medalists.

The South Bay produced two bronze medal-winning teams in the girl’s 12U division with Julia Magrini (Manhattan Beach)/Ivy Santa Maria (Wilmington) tying with Erica Griffiths (Redondo Beach)/Scheala Nielsen (Redondo Beach).

Jackie la Croix (Torrance) and Savannah Standage (San Pedro) captured gold in the girl’s 10U division and the Manhattan Beach team of Amanda Burns and Ainsley Childress took home the bronze.

In the boy’s 14U division, the Palos Verdes Estates duo of Johnny Hunter and Matthew Usui won bronze while South Bay athletes dominated the boy’s 12U competition with Sebastian Rodriguez (Hermosa Beach) and Johnny Anselmo (Thousand Oaks) defeating the Manhattan Beach team of Luach Parris and Henry Wedbush in the championship match. Thomas Kretschmer (Manhattan Beach) and Eric Yeich (Palos Verdes Estates) won bronze.

Hermosa Beach also hosted the AAU West Coast Junior Olympic Games where Grace Campbell (Manhattan Beach) and Mia Merino (Tustin) defeated Abril Bustamante (Redondo Beach) and Natalie Anselmo (Thousand Oaks) for the girl’s 16U title.

The Manhattan Beach team of Presley Forbes and Sunny Villapando finished third in the girl’s 14U competition while Hannemann/Rennon captured gold in the girl’s 12U division with Lindsey Kelly (Manhattan Beach) and Zoe Almanza (Los Angeles) finishing third.

In the boy’s 16U division, Blake Markland (Manhattan Beach) and Davis Gillett (Huntington Beach) placed first while Jackson Bacil (El Segundo) and Sebastian Roca (St. Petersberg, FL) finished third.

In Santa Monica at the AAU Best of the Beach tournament presented by Kauai Bikini, Bustamante teamed with Samantha Manley (Escondido) and defeated Campbell and Merino in the championship match in the 16U division. Emma Smith (Manhattan Beach) and Mima Mirkovic (Irvine) finished third.

Pippa Monk-Heidrich (Manhattan Beach) and Maddie Micheletti (Hermosa Beach) finished fifth in the 14U division of the invitation-only tournament.

The final local AAU tournament will be held Sunday when the Southern Pacific Beach Volleyball Committee hosts its Coed Open tournament at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa Del Rey. Competition begins at 9 a.m. featuring 18U/14U/12U divisions. Open to AAU members, the cost of the tournament in $63.99 per player. For more information, visit or contact Gino Grajeda,


Written by: Randy Angel

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