BEACH VOLLEYBALL : No. 3 Stoklos, Johnson Are Upset
The biggest story at the $250,000 Miller Lite Championships at Hermosa Beach on Saturday was Randy Stoklos’ early exit.
Stoklos, the second-winningest player in pro beach volleyball history, has won the season-ending tournament three times. Last year, he and partner Ricci Luyties lost in the final.
This time, Stoklos and partner Adam Johnson placed fifth after losing twice on Saturday.
The third-seeded team first was defeated by sixth-seeded Brent Frohoff and Scott Ayakatubby, 15-9, then eliminated by ninth-seeded Leif Hanson and Tim Hovland, 10-9.
Frohoff and Ayakatubby went on to upset second-seeded Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh, 15-9, in the winners’ bracket semifinal on center court.
“They hit all the right shots, got all the breaks and made all the plays,” Dodd said. “They were also serving very well.”
Dodd and Whitmarsh won a late-afternoon consolation match and will face fourth-seeded Eduardo Bacil and Jose Loiola in today’s consolation bracket final.
The top-seeded team of Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes struggled before defeating eighth-seeded Troy Tanner and Wes Welch, 15-11, in a morning quarterfinal.
By the semifinal, however, the defending champions had picked up their game and easily defeated Brazilians Loiola and Bacil, 15-5, on center court. They took a 10-4 lead and never let up.
“I was feeling a little tired this morning for some strange reason,” Steffes said. “I saw the doctor and took some vitamins. It worked.”
Kiraly, who sat out four tournaments this year because of a bruised kidney, was in top form. He made several spectacular plays, including one in which he dived through a courtside banner.
“I feel great and I think we’re playing real well,” Kiraly said. “I think what happened in that first match is that Troy and Wes have been in a little slump lately so we thought that game might come a little easier than it did.”
Steffes and Kiraly will meet Frohoff and Ayakatubby in today’s winners’ bracket final at 9 a.m.
The tournament final is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.