Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Surf St. Louis: Volleyball Hits Union Station Beach

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Surf St. Louis: Volleyball Hits Union Station Beach

Article excerpt

Surf, sand and clouds?

OK, so the simulation of beach volleyball Saturday at Union Station was missing some of the ingredients for St. Louis' second rendezvous with California Dreamin'.

Despite an irksome drizzle that pelted the tin canopy partly covering the parking lot, the Bud Light Pro Beach Volleyball Tour scored an ace with area fans.

Many waited out the morning showers. Athletes and spectators slogged about on 217 tons of beach sand dumped on the asphalt lot, turning Union Station into one of the "Surfin' USA" outposts on the 24-city tour.

"Hey, you're coming to the beach!" proclaimed Craig Elledge, commissioner of the Los Angeles-based tour. "You can build a beach anywhere."

But not everyone can be a beach volleyball player. That is evident by the talent of the tour players, many of whom are former members of the U.S. Olympic team.

Two players, Jeff Williams from Santa Monica, Calif., and Carlos Briceno of San Diego, are back from a recent two-week visit to St. Petersburg, Russia, where they participated in the Goodwill Games.

From Santa Barbara to San Diego, beach volleyball has taken firm roots and fanned its tanned athletes across America.

It's all part of volleyball's expanding landscape. Beach volleyball players no longer are perceived as beach bums looking for impressionable girls and a leisurely sport.

"Every one of these guys has gone to college, and they are very well-spoken," Elledge said.

The Bud Light Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, which will be televised a week later by ESPN and ESPN2, is one of the reasons for the sport's growth in popularity. The tour goes to Savannah, Ga., and Clearwater, Fla., after wrapping up its round-robin competition here. Play resumes at 9 a.m. Sunday, with the finals set for 1:30 p.m.

The tour is divided into five teams of four players each, including a captain for each squad. Williams is the captain of Paul Mitchell Salon. At 28, he is the winningest player in tour history.

A former high school basketball player in Santa Monica, Williams switched to volleyball at UCLA. …

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