Sun buys AVP

Newport Beach resident Donald Sun has bought the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals beach tour and vowed to restore it to a schedule that included as many as 31 events in 2008, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

Sun, 37, a graduate of University High in Irvine and UCLA, said he paid $2 million to buy the AVP from its former owner, and plans to shift its headquarters to Newport Beach.

“I’m not a volleyball guru, but I understand the enthusiasm people have for volleyball,” said Sun, a former executive at the Fountain Valley-based Kingston Technology Co., whose new title is managing partner and owner of the AOS Group. “It’s a shame where I see it today, but I want to build it back to what it was before.”

The AVP had an annual revenue of nearly $25 million in 2008. It tried to capitalize on the U.S volleyball teams’ gold medal success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the economic downturn drained it of sponsors and several million dollars.

The AVP was the primary showcase for such stars as Misty May-Treanor, a Newport Harbor High product, and Kerri Walsh, who dominated the tour as the top women’s team for years and also combined to win two Olympic gold medals in beach volleyball.

April Ross, another Newport Harbor graduate and Olympian, was also a weekly contender in the AVP women’s draw.

The AVP men’s draw frequently produced winners such as Matt Fuerbringer, a former basketball star at Estancia High.

In addition, several former AVP players lived in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, such as Costa Mesa resident Mike Lambert.

In the absence of the AVP, players have been limited to competition overseas or in other new domestic tours, such as the Jose Cuervo Pro Volleyball Beach Series.

Sun said he didn’t like how the AVP had changed, such as altering court sizes and switching from sideout scoring to rally scoring, for television events in 2001.

“They tried to make it too TV-friendly,” he said.

Sun, who said he’d like for AVP events to be televised again, said plans are still in the early stages, but he does foresee there being AVP events in 2012.

The AVP has twice filed for bankruptcy since 1998, the last year it turned a profit. It canceled its final five events when it ran out of money in 2010.

There was only one AVP event in 2011, an October tournament in Huntington Beach under then-owner Nick Lewin, who gained control of the tour in December of 2010.

— From staff reports