East End Volleyball History

East End Volleyball Flashback:

In 1987 EEVB ran a special demonstration for Jose Cuervo Tequila and le coq sportif in Central Park. The event was closed to the public and was intended to showcase beach volleyball and le coq sportif clothing to the media, both sports and fashion. Seventy tons of sand was placed in a parking lot near the lake at the southern end of Central Park and a volleyball court was erected.

A volleyball demonstration was held featuring Pro Beach stars Karch Kiraly, Pat Powers, Brent Frohoff, and Scott Akatubby.

After the demo Powers, Frohoff, and Akatubby became fashion models along with EEVB players such as Pam Choi to showcase le coq sportif’s beach volleyball line in what was a truly unique EEVB promotion. (Photo: Pat Powers hits a Kiraly set past Frohoff at the demonstration).

East End Volleyball Flashback:

Bethany Beach, Delaware’s Richmond & Franklin Hall have won every EEVB tournament they have entered including the 1989 DeKuyper Wildwood Open. Franklin Hall (right) hits a Richmond Hall set off Rafael Del Valle’s block as Omar Vargas plays defense. The Halls also won the 1993 Details Magazine tournament at Jenkinson’s Beach in Pt. Pleasant, NJ and the 1993 Big Shot Championships in Atlantic City.

East End Volleyball Classic Moment

Sinjin’ Smith (left), all-time victory leader on the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, talks to players at a 1990 volleyball clinic at the Hampton Beach Club. Over 35 players participated in the clinic run by Smith and his personal coach Ian Gregory. Basic skills plus doubles defense and handling game situations were featured at the Clinic.

East End Volleyball Classic Match:

In 1989 Corona Beer offered a $2,000 prize purse for coed doubles teams. Winners at selected tournaments during the season played off at the Hampton Beach Club (now The Ocean Club) in E. Quogue. The classic match of the day was the championship match of Phil & Teri Melese versus Rafael Del Valle and Halina Pavels.

Melese/Melese won the first match in the winners bracket. Del Valle/Pavels then won all of their consolation bracket matches setting up a double final.

Melese/Melese had won fairly easily in the winners bracket match and were expected by most observers to win the finals. Del Valle/Pavels did not buy into that line as they eked out a close win the first game, setting up the final match. Melese/Melese then pulled out to an early 8-2 lead in the final game and were completely in control. Del Valle/Pavels started a methodical comeback leading to a 16-14 victory.

The key factor in the match was the ability of Halina Pavels to dig the hard spikes of Phil Melese and to set up partner Rafael Del Valle on the 2nd hit in one of the truly classic matches in East End Volleyball’s first 20 years

East End Volleyball Classic Moment

The Hampton Beach Club was the beach volleyball hot spot on Long Island in 1990 when the DeKuyper Volleyball Tournament was held. The California team of Tom Hooper and Chris Allard, both with top 50 AVP rankings, came east expecting easy pickings in the $1,000 cash tournament.

Hooper and Allard played against up and coming eastern Long Island stars Andy “Flop” Fotopoulos and Tom “Smitty” Smith in the most watched match of the day. Playing in front of a crowd 2 deep all around center court, Smitty & Flop dug almost every ball hit at them and hustled after every loose ball before finally losing 15-13.

Hooper and Allard were completely frustrated by the quickness of Smitty & Flop and spent most of their energy to pull out this match. It came back to hurt them later when they lost in the finals to NYC stars Keith Seidmann and Steve Zelko.

The Hampton Beach Club washed into the ocean in 1992 but has been reborn as the Ocean Club and has again hosted top tournaments in 1999 and 2000

East End Volleyball Classic Match:

The Corona Light 4-player Championships were held at Jones Beach in July, 1989 featuring 4-player teams Phil Melese and Doug Partie comprised of National Team members and top California players such as Doug Partie, Steve Salmons, Dusty Dvorak, and Gene LeDuff. To attract local interest a NY Metropolitan local team was allowed to participate. Organizers felt that they might be competitive and would be out of the tournament early leaving only their fans who would stay for the playoffs and help fill bleacher seats for the TV cameras.

What the organizers did not count on was the experience and heart of the local players. Captain Eric Pavels from Long Island (college ball at University of California – Santa Barbara and the US National team) contacted NJ star Doug Emich, and NYC resident’s Phil Melese and Steve Zelko to form a very solid 4-player team.

Emich had also played with the National team, Zelko had played 4 years at USC-Santa Barbara, and Melese was rated triple A in California during his college years. (“You should have seen Phil play when he was young” said former AVP star Pat Powers.)

With Pavels setting, Emich blocking, Zelko playing back row defense, and Melese firing away from the strong side, the local team breezed through pool play and ended up in the finals against captain Doug Partie’s 4-man squad. The first two games of the 3 game finals were very close with the locals winning the first 15-12 and Partie’s team wining the second 15-10.

The third game was close up to the half-way point with Partie ahead by an 8-6 score when Phil Melese went down with cramps. He tried to play on but without his great jumping ability the locals finally succumbed 15-9 in one of the best matches ever on Long Island. While not an EEVB promoted event, all of the locals have played in EEVB tournaments since the mid eighties.

East End Volleyball Classic Match

One of the best East West confrontations occurred when Bob Samuelson came to the Hampton Beach Club to play in the 1989 DeKuyper Tournament. Samuelson came from his California home to visit his mother who was living on Long Island and planned to win his airfare at the DeKuyper tournament. Once again, the East Coast would not cooperate

Samuelson’s team had some tough matches during the day, especially against Keith Seidmann and Steve Zelko, but made it to the finals relatively unscathed.

The final match was against NYC’s perennial champs Rafael Del Valle and Omar Vargas who had been playing EEVB tournaments since the early ’80′s when all of the tournaments were triples competitions. Playing then with Eric Pavels and George Pavel (4 man rosters with 1 substitute was the rule then) they always finished 1st or 2nd. When tournaments switched to doubles, they still posted good showings, always a team to be feared.

The final was tight throughout with neither team holding more than a 2-point lead. Ahead 14-13 Del Valle dug a ball into the net. Vargas played it up perfectly as he slid under the net and Del Valle put it away for the victory. Quietly, but with strong determination, referee Cathy Zaloga called a net violation on Omar Vargas, whose shoulder had touched the net as he slid under the net (He later said it was the right call).

The game continued, Sammy had a chance at game point at 15-14, before Del Valle/Vargas came back to win the match 18-16 and send the crowd into a final frenzy.

Del Valle has continued to win on the EEVB tour. Vargas is now a coach in NYC. And Samuelson went on to the 1992 Olympics and the controversial call that resulted in all of the US team shaving their heads. Truly a classic EEVB match.

East End Volleyball Classic Match:
1997 Big Shot Championships

S. Carolina star Doug Smith cuts a shot inside the block of NJ’s Jeff Wentworth during the finals of the 1997 Big Shot Championships in Atlantic City. Doug and partner Dana Camacho defeated Jeff and his partner Ihor Akinshyn in an exciting double final.

Wentworth/Akinshyn took control in the first game winning easily 15-9. In the 2nd game Smith began to control the net with strong blocking and Camacho lived up to his reputation as one of the best defensive players on the East Coast as they moved to an 11-6 win and the 1998 Big Shot Championship.

East End Volleyball Classic Match:

The most exciting match of the 1999 Big Shot Championships in Atlantic City was the winners bracket finals between #1 seed Booh Brennan and Rondeau Flynn and #6 seed Ihor Akinshyn and Jeff Wentworth.

Brennan/Flynn were looking for their 2nd consecutive win in this very strong tournament and knew that a win in the winners bracket finals would guarantee them a trip to the finals.

A hard fought match came to the end with Brennan/Flynn serving game point with score at 14-11. Wentworth hit a hard spike cross-court that Brennan shanked towards the boardwalk. Rondeau Flynn run under the net towards the boardwalk and passed the ball back to the center of the court where Brennan jumped and put away the final point to end a good, but not exceptional game.

Then the fun began. After shaking hands and sipping some water, Wentworth and Akinshyn came over to the tournament director for a rules clarification. “Can a player run under the net and pass back a ball to his own side?” The answer was yes as long as the ball only passes over the net once. But did it only go over once, or did it go over once on the shank and then once on the pass back. A consultation with referee Dana Camacho revealed that he thought the ball went over the net twice resulting in an illegal play for the final point. The pay would have to continue.

entworth/Akinshyn continued to fight hard working their way to a 14-14 tie. Brennan/Flynn then went ahead 15-14 on a Brennan spike. Akinshyn answered with a point. 15-15. Flynn scored on an ace serve. 16-15. Akinshyn scored again with another strong spike. The score was tied 16-16 with a 17-point cap in effect. The next point would win the game.

From that point both teams would have 20 game point opportunities. That is 40 total side outs with the game on the line with each play. The crowd was cheering every chance for both sides as no one wanted to see the match end. Finally, a tough dig and spike by Akinshyn ended the game 17-16 in a truly classic East End Volleyball match. Brennan/Flynn moved to the losers bracket final where they ran into a serving exhibition by former AVP star James Fellows and were knocked out. Akinshyn/Wentworth then fought of the same tough Fellows serve to win a double final and claim the 1999 Big Shot Volleyball championship.

You can see this match on the EEVB YouTube Channel

Classic matches will continue to appear on this web site. If you have a favorite match or photo from an East End Volleyball event feel free to submit it for publication on EEVB’s web site.

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