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SPORTS WEEKEND

Tournament Moves to Court With Sand

Pro volleyball: Hermosa Beach is new site of Manhattan Beach Open because environmental group won legal battle.

June 13, 1997|IRENE GARCIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seeing Karch Kiraly on a court without Kent Steffes at his side is nearly as strange as not having a pro volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach this summer.

This weekend's tournament, originally scheduled to be the 38th Manhattan Beach Open, was moved to Hermosa Beach because an environmental group won a court order to keep the event out of Manhattan Beach. The group stated noise and traffic concerns in its lawsuit.

Kiraly and Steffes won't play together because Kiraly had shoulder surgery in October, has missed seven tournaments in 1997 and is not his old self yet.

In the past, Kiraly and Steffes dominated the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tour, winning 76 of 117 tournament titles, including last year's Manhattan Beach Open and a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics.

But Kiraly's injury forced Steffes to find a new partner, Brazilian Jose Loiola. Together they have won seven of 10 events this year, and beginning today in Hermosa Beach they are seeded No. 1.

Kiraly meanwhile, is on a comeback mission with Adam Johnson. The team has placed third in two tournaments and is seeded No. 2 in Hermosa Beach.

"I'm getting better and better every week," Kiraly said. "The shoulder feels real good."

Olympic silver medalists Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh, winners of two titles this year, are seeded third.

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