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Something Old Is Under the Sun

Beach volleyball: Kiraly, 41, and Doble win Santa Barbara Open. McPeak and Youngs win women's tournament.

June 17, 2002|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

He grew up in Santa Barbara, learning the game from his father at age 6, a quarter mile from where he stood as a champion on Sunday after his 143rd title.

The landscape has changed plenty since Karch Kiraly's days as an East Beach youth, but one constant has remained: At 41 years old, Kiraly still knows how to win.

Kiraly and Brent Doble defeated Eric Fonoimoana and Dax Holdren, 21-12, 21-18, to win the Santa Barbara Open, the third of seven tournaments on the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tour.

Kiraly, beach volleyball's career leader in tournament titles, had not won a championship since July 30, 2000 at Virginia Beach.

"I'm glad to push the envelope a little and not be counted out," Kiraly said. "I still have a little volleyball left in me."

Kiraly played only two tournaments last year because of an Achilles' tendon injury and his season was cut short two years ago because of a dislocated shoulder.

Sunday, he had 21 kills and 13 digs in the championship match, ending it with a kill to the right corner.

"It looked like he was reinvigorated," Fonoimoana said. "I've seen him dig like that before, when he was much younger. I was blasting the ball and he kept digging it up."

It was a tough ending for Holdren, who has Santa Barbara ties of his own. He attended nearby San Marcos High and still lives in the area but lost in the finals for a third consecutive year.

"I'm tired of losing here," Holdren said. "Everything worked out for them today. They made good plays and got all the bounces."

Kiraly and Doble beat Frederico Souza and Eduardo Bacil in the semifinals, 14-21, 21-18, 15-9, starting the third game with a 7-0 run.

Doble and Kiraly were supposed to play together last season, but Kiraly injured his Achilles' a few days before the first AVP tournament. Kiraly played the final two tournaments last season with Scott Ayakatubby, but reunited with Doble this season.

Doble and Kiraly had been in the hunt the first two AVP tournaments, finishing third at Huntington Beach and fifth at Hermosa.

"We felt like we were knocking on the door," Kiraly said.

*

Not even a pinched nerve could stop Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs from becoming a pain in the neck in the women's tournament.

Youngs had been bothered by a sore neck the entire weekend, but she and McPeak defeated Dianne DeNecochea and Barbra Fontana, 21-15, 21-13, to win the title.

McPeak (12 digs) was solid in the back row and Youngs (18 kills, four blocks) provided punch at the net.

McPeak and Youngs have lost only three games in 15 AVP matches this season but will be challenged on the international level. They leave today for Gstaad, Switzerland, and could face several top teams in a Federation Internationale de Volleyball tournament that starts Thursday.

The match was delayed nearly 10 minutes when Fontana hit her head on the left post at the net, which resulted in a bruise on the back of her head. DeNecochea and Fontana have lost to McPeak and Youngs in the final round three straight times this year.

"I don't know if it's timidness or that we're just not in a rhythm," Fontana said. "We've got to bring our 'A' game to that final."

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