By Jon D. Gaede
When the Professional Volleyball Tour (AVP) makes its West Coast swing, there is no more important tournament than Manhattan Beach, California.
The crowds at the annual professional volleyball pilgrimage to Southern California have been impressive this year. Jenny Johnson-Jordan and Annette Davis have been no less impressive in their recent return to form. Many Americans have decided not to travel abroad in the wake of the September 11th national tragedy. Some 10,000 faithful, NBC, and Sports Illustrated packed the Manhattan Beach pier and surrounded the natural sand volleyball court at main beach.
For Johnson and Davis their path to the Manhattan Beach AVP title would have to go through fellow Olympians and four time champions Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs. McPeak and Youngs had won 25 previous matches this year and have shown no sign of weakness. Following their Olympic performance in Sydney, Johnson and Davis decided to take a year off to have their first offspring. Both had boys and the new mothers have been steadily climbing back toward their old form.
Johnson and Davis were slow starters in the finals as they dropped the first set 13-21. They had fallen behind 12-8 in the second before rallying in front of a high energy, rowdy crowd next to the pier. Outstanding defense off key blocks from Annette Davis proved to be the rallying cry needed to propel Johnson and Davis to a 15-9 victory over McPeak and Youngs. The prestigious Manhattan Beach crown was theirs.
Manhattan Beach and thousands of loyal volleyball fans were also the winners on this day. Leonard Armato (Shaquille O'Neil's former agent) has inked the NBC/AVP Volleyball deal for the new millennium and serves as its president. Olympic gold medalist Eric Fonoimoana and his partner Dax Holdren defeated Stein Metzger and Kevin Wong to win the men's side 21-17, 19-21, 18-16.
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