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Orange County Open Beach Volleyball Tournament : Dodd, Hovland Beat Smith, Stoklos

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

In its effort to become a nationally popular sport, the pro beach volleyball circuit often overextends itself by sending its better teams to the four corners of the nation, thereby diluting play back home in Southern California.

Over the weekend, however, most of the great beach players happened to be in town, and they met at the Seal Beach Pier for the $20,000 Miller Lite Orange County Open beach volleyball tournament, treating the several thousand fans in attendance to the sport at its best.

In Sunday’s final, the team of Mike Dodd and Tim Hovland outlasted Singin Smith and Randy Stoklos, 8-15, 15-9, to win the championship. Dodd and Hovland took home $7,000 for the victory. Smith and Stoklos pocketed $3,500.

The reigning world champions, Dodd and Hovland emerged from the winner’s bracket to make the final. Smith and Stoklos fought their way through the loser’s bracket to make it.

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That gave Dodd and Hovland the advantage of having to win only one set in the final of the double-elimination tournament, and after losing the first set, 15-8, the pair settled down to take the last set and the tournament championship.

Smith and Stoklos made it that far after having lost to Karch Kiraly and John Hanley, 15-13, in the second round of winner’s bracket play Saturday. Smith and Stoklos won their next two matches before facing Kiraly and Hanley again in the loser’s bracket final earlier Sunday afternoon.

Seeing Kiraly playing the beach game is something of a novelty these days, considering how much time his U.S. National Team commitments have taken up over the past three summers, ever since he helped lead the U.S. team to the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Kiraly and Hanley fought Smith and Stoklos to a 14-14 tie in the loser’s bracket final before Smith put them away with a block at the net on Kiraly and then a spike to give his team a berth in the final.

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The momentum continued for Smith and Stoklos in the tournament final as they dominated the play at the net in the first match against Dodd and Hovland, but the exertion of six matches over two days seemed to get the best of them.

Dodd and Hovland took a 5-2 lead in the last set and never looked back, running up the score to 10-5 and 14-9 before Dodd blocked Smith’s spike back at him on the final point, giving Dodd and Hovland the point, set and match.


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