The faces might be familiar, but the pairings might throw you off when the Women's Pro Volleyball Assn. beach tour comes to the South Bay for the Hermosa Beach Open this weekend.
The Hermosa event is the fourth of 16 stops on the tour. The two-day tournament will be held at the Hermosa Beach Pier, with opening matches Saturday at 8 a.m.
The finals are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The top 32 teams in the WPVA, ranked by points, will compete in a double-elimination format for $25,000 in prize money. The first-place prize is $6,000.
Defending champions Jackie Silva and Patty Dodd, the most successful on the beach last summer, split up in mid-August.
Silva, a native of Rio de Janeiro who recently relocated to Redondo Beach, is considered the sport's top player. Silva and Orange County schoolteacher Janice Opalinski have teamed to win the first three events of the season.
Silva, who anchored the Brazilian national indoor team for seven years and was on Brazil's Olympic team in 1980 and 1984, is the top prize winner on the tour the past three years.
And while the purses for the women's events haven't reached the levels of the men's beach tour, the WPVA has expanded the circuit to Mexico and Tokyo.
The 28-year-old Silva earned $32,000 last year.
Dodd, 26, of El Segundo, is the wife of men's beach volleyball standout Mike Dodd. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Dodd is a former UCLA player.
She is teamed with Karolyn Kirby, twice a collegiate All-American at Utah State and a veteran of the Italian Professional League.
This season, Dodd and Kirby have been a step behind Silva and Opalinski, finishing second at both the Arizona Open in Phoenix in April and at the Jag Santa Barbara Open May 13.
Although Silva-Opalinski and Dodd-Kirby are the No. 1 and 2 seeded teams in the tournament, the San Diego County-based team of Lori Kotas and Gail Castro has also made an impact on the tour.
Veterans Nina Matthies of Oxnard and Elaine Roque of Santa Barbara form another consistent team. Matthies, 36, is the tour's winningest active player with more than 100 victories.
For the third consecutive year, ESPN will televise the finals. The one-hour telecast will be shown tape-delayed June 25 at 5 p.m.
Admission to the Hermosa event, one of the most heavily attended stops on the tour, is free.