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Kirby, Masakayan Run Win Streak to Record 21 Games : Pro volleyball: Top-seeded team gives up only 11 points in three matches at Long Beach to set WPVA record.


The top-seeded team of Karolyn Kirby and Liz Masakayan cruised through the quarterfinals of Saturday's pro beach volleyball tournament in Long Beach, but they had one complaint: the sand.

The event is being held four blocks from the beach, but in an effort to promote the area, the city decided to have it in a downtown parking lot.

Tons of sand were trucked in to create four courts and the surface looked more like kitty litter than the soft, deep sand most players are accustomed to.

"Of course it's not the best condition, but we've played on this before," said Masakayan, a former UCLA All-American and U.S. national team member. "This is the only time we've had this situation, where we're so close to the beach but we're not playing on it."

Kirby said it was like playing on an indoor court barefoot.

"You can never simulate the perfect beach sand, but it really should be a little better quality than this," she said. "When you jump serve out here it's like landing on a hard surface.'

Kirby and Masakayan gave up 11 points in three matches to advance to today's 9:30 a.m. semifinal against fourth-seeded Dennie Knoop of Redondo Beach and Deb Richardson.

Kirby-Masakayan broke a Women's Professional Volleyball Assn. record on Saturday by increasing their winning streak to 21 games. They have dominated this year's tour, winning 10 of 11 events.

Knoop-Richardson defeated fifth-seeded Janice Harrer and Shannon Millen, 17-15, in a quarterfinal on center court. Knoop, 37, also disliked the sand.

"It's a nightmare," she said. "It's so hard. That's why we're wearing knee pads and elbow pads. This is the kind of sand you use to construct some kind of cement foundation."

Today's other semifinal will feature second-seeded Barbra Fontana and Lori Kotas against sixth-seeded Lori Biller and Alison Johnson.

Biller-Johnson upset third-seeded Gail Castro and Elaine Roque, 16-14, in a quarterfinal match.

Roque-Castro were ahead, 13-4, but Biller-Johnson started a comeback by scoring nine unanswered points to tie the score, 13-13.

The score was tied, 14-14, and Biller-Johnson missed seven match points. They won after Roque mishit Biller's serve.

"Ali started serving real well and they started feeling pressure," said Biller, a former UCLA All-American. "Then we started siding out real well and they didn't know what to do."

In the quickest quarterfinal of the afternoon, Fontana, a Mira Costa High grad, and Kotas defeated seventh-seeded Wendy Fletcher and Marla O'Hara, 15-4.

O'Hara is a Hawthorne native who played volleyball at El Camino College and Cal State Dominguez Hills. Fletcher, a Manhattan Beach native, played at UCLA.

Today's final is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The winning team of the $20,000, double-elimination event will split $5,300.

This is the last tournament before the season-ending World Championships Aug. 21-22 in Manhattan Beach.

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