If anyone knows how to throw a beach party, it’s Leonard Armato.
Armato, founder of the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, has made the WSOBV into one of the top tournaments in the world in just three years, utilizing his experience as both the former head of the AVP and Skechers.
And his event this year that starts Wednesday in Long Beach is star-studded with some of the top teams in the world, including many of the pairs that just competed in the Rio Olympics, including all four American pairs: Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson, and Brazilians Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes.
“The World Series of Beach Volleyball pits the best of the USA against the best in the world,” Armato said just after returning from Rio. “Kerri Walsh defeated the No. 1 Brazilian team (Larissa/Talita) for the bronze medal in Rio, and that team is coming to get its revenge on our home turf.”
But the WSOBV is more than just volleyball, although volleyball starts Tuesday with the main-draw qualifier. Main-draw play begins Wednesday along with the start of the USAV junior tournament. Play continues through Sunday.
“We have a whole week of activities that celebrate the whole beach volleyball lifestyle, culture, and what’s best about the beach, including kid’s day, and a music festival,” Armato said.
The WSOBV will honor all-time beach great teams Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos and Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs, along with retiring USA Volleyball CEO and former men’s head coach Doug Beal on Friday at 7. McPeak, it should be noted, is Armato’s wife.
The celebrities will be out in full force, featuring team captains Josh Hutcherson of “The Hunger Games” and former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens. The celebrity match is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Sunday.
And there’s music and the concert series will feature Thomas Jack, Branchez, Jillionaire, Team Ezy, and Filthy Gorgeous.
“The idea behind the World Series is not only to let people watch the best in the world competing for an important prize, but also to be able to play volleyball if you like, in a coed fours or six-man format,” Armato said.
“We have a whole slate of tropical house DJs that are playing from morning until night as part of our “Spiked” event, which is our open coed 4’s and 6’s event. It’s like a beach party, where you can play volleyball and listen to the best tropical house music.”
The WSOBV includes an $800,000 total purse for FIVB Grand Slam for Olympic level players, open level 4’s and 6’s, and juniors’ doubles and 6’s.
The men’s field also includes Brazilian world champions Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg, and Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilov and Janis Smedins, one of the hottest teams on tour.
Other USA men’s teams include Tri Bourne/John Hyden, Taylor Crabb/Trevor Crabb, Theo Brunner/Billy Allen, Ryan Doherty/John Mayer, and Mark Burik/Stafford Slick .
Other USA women’s teams Lane Carico/Summer Ross, Emily Day/Irene Hester Pollock, Kim DiCello/Kendra VanZwieten, Betsi Flint/Kelley Larsen, and college superstars Sara Hughes/Kelly Claes.
Speaking of budding superstars, it is also an opportunity to see Brazil’s most precocious pair, Eduarda Duda/Elize Maia, who not only won the FIVB U21 world championships, but have two wins in world tour play at Maceio and Fortaleza.
For more information: https://WSOBV.com
The event will be broadcast on NBCSports beginning with the women’s quarterfinals Friday. Both the women’s and men’s semifinals will air Saturday and the women’s finals on Sunday. The men’s finals won’t be shown until Tuesday. The full TV schedule is here: https://wsobv.com/grand-slam/nbc/
Additional matches will be streamed on https://wsobv.com/watch/live-stream/