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Loiola's Quiet Return Making a Lot of Noise

August 16, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Jose Loiola, one of the most demonstrative and dynamic beach volleyball players, gets unusually quiet when asked about what happened in Brazil.

One of the top players in the world, he doesn't want to talk about the apparent rift with the volleyball federation in his home country.

His tight-lipped answer after Sunday's Manhattan Beach Open: "Too much politics involved."

A few days later?

"I had my problems with them in the past. It seems like everything has been taken care of. I have no problem with anybody in any part of the world."

After a three-year absence, Loiola, 33, quietly entered last week's AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour. He and partner Eduardo Bacil finished second, creating an interest in what Loiola has been doing the last few years.

He abruptly left the AVP after winning his last two tournaments, in August 2000. It was a surprising about-face for a player who had won 35 AVP tournaments since 1995 and had purchased a Manhattan Beach home with his wife and children.

Brazilian federation officials never liked Loiola's allegiance to the AVP, but they put up with it. They had to. He was one of the world's top players and an icon in Brazil.

His stunning loss in the Sydney Olympics did not improve his position with the Brazilian federation. Loiola and Emanuel Rego were favored to win the gold medal but tied for ninth after losing to No. 10-seeded Javier Bosma and Fabio Diez of Spain.

Loiola and Rego broke up after the Olympics, but Loiola played successfully the last two years with Ricardo Santos, a silver medalist for Brazil in Sydney. Then those two split up, perhaps at the whim of the heavy-handed Brazilian federation, sources said.

Santos joined up with Rego. They have won three Olympic-qualifying tournaments this season.

Loiola, on the other hand, has been saddled with Fabio de Jesus Magalhaes, a slow-footed, inexperienced 6-foot-9 player. They finished 57th twice and 41st twice in Olympic-qualifying tournaments. Their best finish was ninth place.

"There was turmoil for a while," said Loiola, who has all but lost out on a chance to make the Athens Olympics. "I'm frustrated maybe because I didn't qualify this year."

Loiola, however, maintains that his return to the AVP was more because he missed Los Angeles.

"I was dying to go back to Manhattan Beach," he said. "We really missed our home here."

Loiola surprised some people last Sunday when he said he would try to make the 2008 Olympics as a U.S. player. He has dual citizenship.

"I know I can go back to the Olympics and still win a gold medal," Loiola said. "Karch [Kiraly] won a gold medal when he was 35. Mike Dodd was 38 when he won the silver."

Loiola and Bacil lost to Todd Rogers and Sean Scott in the second round Friday at the AVP Nissan Series Huntington Beach Open but are still alive in the double-elimination tournament.

Misty May and Kerri Walsh continued their dominant run in their first year on the AVP tour. May and Walsh won two matches Friday and are 28-0 on the AVP.

May and Walsh will play Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan in a semifinal today.

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