It's a Volleyball Festival , So to Spike

Rick VanderKnyff is a member of the Times Orange County Edition staff.

Just as the weather is warming up, a big volleyball event comes to local beaches.

Spike-It-Up is a national tournament in its second year, affiliated with the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals. It opens a 15-city tour Saturday and Sunday at Huntington Beach State Park, near the pier.

The amateur competition is open to teams of two, four and six of all ages and ability levels, in men's, women's and mixed categories. In addition to the amateur tournament, there will be a qualifier for the AVP pro tour (the deadline for entering the qualifier has passed).

Teams compete Saturday to qualify for the seeded tournament on Sunday. Besides the team action, there will be prize drawings, music and food. Individual skill competitions will include spiking, serving--and dancing like Marvin Hall, a popular and flamboyant volleyball referee.

Last year, 400 teams played in Huntington Beach. This year, 650 or more are expected. Most teams have already signed up, but organizers say they will accept some walk-up registration (participants sign up as a team).

Also, organizers say they are hoping to draw a big crowd of spectators for the event.

"It's a volleyball tournament, but it's got a festival atmosphere," said national tour director John Hughes. "It's not just a bunch of volleyball players sitting around eating bananas, drinking Gatorade and thinking about their game. Everybody has fun."

Spike-It-Up is organized by Streetsports Inc. in Dallas, organizers of two other hugely popular national amateur events, Hoop-It-Up (for basketball, natch) and Air-It-Out (for football).

* What: Spike-It-Up volleyball tournament.

* When: Saturday and Sunday, April 1 and 2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* Where: Huntington Beach State Park.

* Whereabouts: Park near the Huntington Beach Pier, at Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street.

* Wherewithal: Fees per junior team are $90 for four players and $130 for six members (there is no two-on-two junior division). Adult team fees are $50 for two players, $100 for four players and $150 for six players.

* Where to call: (800) 778-7745.

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