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It Could Be as Simple as AVP

Beach volleyball: New partners Youngs and McPeak are poised for a second consecutive women's tour victory.


The ledger sure looked good, at least to the casual observer.

Elaine Youngs had plenty of strong finishes on the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tour last year with Barbra Fontana, including two seconds and two thirds.

The one AVP tournament they won together wasn't enough, Youngs decided, particularly as Fontana battled a back injury heading into this season.

So Youngs picked up the phone and called Holly McPeak at the end of April, barely a month before the first AVP tournament. Two of the top players on the AVP Tour, they had never been on the same side of the net until Youngs posed the question.

McPeak hardly waited for Youngs to finish when she answered in the affirmative and a partnership was created, a successful one at that, further evidenced Saturday at the Hermosa Beach Open.

McPeak and Youngs handled Pat Keller and Marla O'Hara, 21-9, 21-11, in 28 minutes and then defeated Jen Holdren and Stephanie Cox, 21-10, 21-13, in 31 minutes in a winners' bracket quarterfinal.

McPeak and Youngs won the Huntington Beach Open two weeks ago, losing only one game in five matches, but were unhappy with their overall play and spent practice time this week on serving.

"We had no aces [at Huntington]," Youngs said. "We weren't making people move. We were serving right to them, not getting them in trouble."

Against Keller and O'Hara on Saturday, Youngs had six aces. Problem solved.

McPeak and Youngs play Carrie Busch and Leanne Schuster in a semifinal today. Jenny Johnson Jordan and Annett Davis play Fontana and Dianne DeNecochea in the other semifinal.

Despite their brief tenure as a team, McPeak and Youngs have become overwhelming favorites on the AVP tour, partly because Misty May and Kerri Walsh, another top U.S. duo, are playing solely on the international tour.

McPeak and Youngs play next weekend at Santa Barbara, then head to Gstaad, Switzerland, for their first international event.

"It'll be a test," Youngs said. "But if Holly and I keep playing and practicing the way we have been, we'll be tough to beat."

In the men's tournament, seventh-seeded Karch Kiraly and Brent Doble surprised No. 2 Dax Holdren and Eric Fonoimoana, 19-21, 21-13, 15-11, in a winners' quarterfinal.

Kiraly, 41, continued to play well since coming off a heel injury that kept him sidelined for all but two AVP tournaments last year.

Kiraly and Doble halted an eight-match winning streak by Holdren and Fonoimoana, who went 6-0 on the way to the Huntington Beach championship.

"That's a fun win," said Kiraly, who tied for third at Huntington Beach. "All the other teams had been out there to give them their first defeat."

Kiraly and Doble will play Albert Hannemann and Jeff Nygaard in a winners' semifinal today. Top-seeded Stein Metzger and Kevin Wong play Scott Ayakatubby and Brian Lewis in the other semifinal.

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