BEACH VOLLEYBALL : Kirby, Masakayan Cruise, Then Struggle to Advance


Top-ranked Karolyn Kirby and Liz Masakayan breezed through their first match on Saturday in the $40,000 World Championships at Manhattan Beach, but the defending champions struggled in their second match before finally winning.

Kirby and Masakayan scored a 15-3 quarterfinal victory over eighth-seeded Jackie Campbell and Charlotte Roach in the morning. But a couple of hours later, Kirby-Masakayan, the winningest team in women’s pro beach volleyball, committed a series of unforced errors that almost caused them to lose the semifinal against fourth-seeded Gayle Stammer and Monique Oliver.

Kirby and Masakayan trailed, 11-8, before scoring seven consecutive points--three of them aces by Masakayan--for a 15-11 victory.

“They definitely had some unforced errors that they normally don’t have,” Stammer said. “But then they had some great defensive plays that took points off our serve.”


Masakayan, who was hospitalized last week because of a pelvic infection, says her team’s slow start was not related to her sitting out three days of practice last week.

“I feel great,” she said. “I just think we were a little too hyper. We weren’t focused and our ball control was not as sharp. . . . Then we said enough is enough!”

In the other winners’ bracket semifinal, second-seeded Lori Kotas and Barbra Fontana defeated third-seeded Dennie Knoop and Deb Richardson, 15-12, after trailing, 9-4.