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Environment Has Starring Role in Benefit : Volleyball: Top professionals join celebrities in event Saturday for American Oceans Campaign, which was founded by 'Cheers' star Ted Danson.


The Assn. of Volleyball Professionals doesn't have a tournament scheduled this weekend, but eight of its players will compete in the Honda Del Sol pro-celebrity challenge on Saturday at Santa Monica Beach, just west of the Loew's Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes, the AVP's top-ranked players, and Adam Johnson and Brian Lewis are expected to compete. AVP women who are scheduled to compete are Jackie Silva, Linda Carrillo, Angela Rock and Holly McPeak.

Kiraly, a former UCLA All-American, and Steffes have won 11 of 15 AVP events this year, including last weekend's Manhattan Beach Open. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Kiraly, 32, ranks third in the AVP list in career wins (70). Steffes, 25, ranks sixth with 47 open titles.

Johnson, a former USC All-American, has won eight career tournaments and is ranked fourth on the tour. The 28-year-old reached the final of the Manhattan Beach Open last week with partner Bruk Vandeweghe. Lewis, 25, has one career victory and is ranked sixth.

Silva, 31, is the winningest player in women's pro beach volleyball with 41 career victories. Carrillo, 35, won 28 tournaments on the Women's Professional Volleyball Assn. tour and Rock, 29, won 18. McPeak, a Mira Costa High graduate and former UCLA setter, won the women's round-robin division last week at Manhattan Beach with partner Cammy Ciarelli.

Nicollete Sheridan, Kelly Connel and Jeffrey Mark are some of the celebrities scheduled to participate.

The event will benefit the American Oceans Campaign, which was founded by "Cheers" star Ted Danson. The nonprofit organization is one of the country's leading environmental groups and is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of oceans.

"In Santa Monica it's a good thing to have," Silva said. "We play every weekend at beaches and we're pretty much always outside, so it's good that this week we play for a cause like this."

The tournament will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a four-on-four professional-celebrity challenge that will feature a man and woman pro and two celebrities on a side. That will be followed by a mixed doubles pro exhibition that will feature the team of Kiraly, Johnson, McPeak and Rock against the team of Steffes, Lewis, Silva and Carrillo.

"It's going to be so good because it's a new thing in volleyball," Silva said. "It can be the beginning of the mixed game."

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