The International Volleyball Association (IVA) has a special place in history as the first professional co-ed American league, and this summer Tom Pestolesi brought back the IVA format at Irvine Valley College.
Pestolesi, the Director of Volleyball at IVC and head coach of its women’s team, held an exhibition series on July 22 and July 29 that closely resembled old IVA matches. The IVA, a southwestern U.S. volleyball league in which men and women played in teams together was extremely short-lived; the league began in 1975 and ended in 1979.
Two team names from the old league were used in the exhibition: The Comets, who were based in Denver, and The Stars out of Orange County. The Comets lineup consisted of Karch Kiraly, Hugh McCutchen, Andy Hein (Pepperdine), Tommy Pestolesi (Long Beach State), Kayla Banworth (Nebraska) and Michelle Kwon (UCLA). The Stars roster included Kawika Shoji, Bryan Simmons (UCI), Brett Perrine (UCLA), Jeff Taylor (CS Northridge), Kelly Hyder (Washington State), Jessica Papell (Oregon State) and Cami Croteaux. Team coaches were Rudy Suwara, Ed Becker, Larry Benecke, Don Shaw and Jon Roberts, and The Stars pulled out the win, two sets to one.
“It was great to watch Karch setting again,” said Pestolesi. “He connected really well with Andy in the middle. He had not set in decades and did really nice job. He still has it.”
Pestolesi said both spectators and players had a great time at the event, which gave a nod towards the history of the sport.
“I wanted to do this to bring a format that made the game fun,” he said. “I want the current players to know the players—male and female—that were the start of USA Volleyball and paved the way for the great teams we have had since the 1980s. They really enjoyed it and we recognized them to the public.”
Asics, Simple Green, Mikasa and Senoh all sponsored the event, and Pestolesi’s vision for the future of the exhibition not only involves attracting more players and fans, but also giving back to the community. He hopes that this exhibition series will become an annual event and a fundraiser for charities.
Originally published in September/October 2011