SANTA BARBARA -- Championship point: a capacity crowd on its feet, clapping inflatable thunder sticks and hands in sync, with music pounding, chants thundering, sunshine warming and an ocean breeze cooling.
Moments later, soaked in champagne from a finals win, Sean Rosenthal said, "It was like the AVP was never gone."
The Assn. of Volleyball Professionals shut down in 2010 when it ran out of money, but the pro beach volleyball tour returned this year with two events, the last of which — the AVP championships — was held here over the weekend.
The environment during Sunday's men's and women's final events had shades of the AVP of old, especially with strong fan support. The 1,500-seat grandstands were full, and an official estimated 30,000 people attended throughout the weekend.
In the men's final, London Olympians Jake Gibb and Rosenthal, the sixth-seeded team, beat fourth-seeded Brad Keenan and John Mayer, 21-16, 21-16, 21-18, and won $42,500.