Tampa Bay Outdoors

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A Smashing Success

By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Editor
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002

[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Tony Chillemi, left, of Tampa moves toward the net while Brian Babis of Clearwater sets the ball during a volleyball match at Clearwater Beach.
CLEARWATER BEACH -- If there is a Ground Zero for beach volleyball in the state of Florida, this is it.

"Clearwater Beach hosts more tournaments than any other city in the state," said David Carstenson, a 46-year-old player and referee. "There is always a game going on and all you have to do is show up."

Carstenson, who also has played on grass and indoors, said Pro Beach Volleyball will be back on Clearwater Beach in 2003 and in a big way.

"NBC plans to broadcast the games live," he said. "We think that is going to help take the sport to the next level."

The sport traces its roots to a two-on-two competition at State Beach, Calif., in 1943. Twenty two years later, the California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) was formed in 1965, establishing rules and tournament formats. The sport continued to grow through the '70s and '80s and finally became an Olympic Sport in 1996.

If you have never played or watched a game, here's how it works:

Two teams of two or four players face off on a sand court. Players wear bathing suits or shorts and T-shirts and a cap. Soft, one-handed tips are not allowed. The ball must be hit in attacks.

There are two match formats. You can play a single set. First team to 15 wins. Or you can play the best out of three 12-point sets.

The ball is the same size as an Olympic vollleyball, but its pressure is a little higher to make it more stable in the wind.

"The pro game has really been going through some changes," Carstenson said. "They are using "rally" scoring now, which means that with every serve, a point is scored. Amateurs still play by the old 'sideout' system, which means you have to serve the ball in order to score."

Want to start playing. All you need is a ball and that will cost you anywhere from $20 to $50.

Play for Free

  • Clearwater Beach, near Pier 60. The nets are free, bring a ball and friends.
  • St. Pete Beach, Central Avenue and Gulf Boulevard. The nets are free, bring a ball and friends.
  • Courtney Campbell Causeway/Highway 60, by The Castaway, one net, lots of interest on the weekends.

Bar Leagues

  • KAHUNAS Bar & Grille, 10515 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg. One of the longest running leagues in the Tampa Bay area. Call (727) 576-7800.
  • The Undertow, 3850 Gulf Blvd., St. Petersburg Beach. Saturday League, nets up for free all other times, bring a ball. Call (727) 368-9000.


  • Pontiac Pro-motions Sports Marketing, a traveling pro-am tour, www.flbeachvolleyball.com, July 27-28. Adult plus Junior National Beach Championships for USA Volleyball (USAV)
  • USAV's Association of Volleyball Professional (AVP), Aug. 2 and 3, contact Dave Carstenson at davevbref@cs.com.
  • Bud Light Beach Volleyball, all levels, June 22-23, Sept. 14-15 (National Championships) contact-www.budlightbeachvolleyball.com.
  • AVP, all levels, Aug. 22-23 and Sept. 28-29, contact Dave Carstenson at davevbref@cs.com.


  • Adult classes on Wednesdays, 6:15 p.m. until dark, at the Undertow on St. Pete Beach.
  • Youth classes on Mondays, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., on Bradenton Beach (straight on SR 64 until it dead ends). Adults following 6 p.m. until dark
  • Contact Nancy Cothron at (941) 748-1093.


  • The Safety Harbor-based Spike Nashbar is one of the largest volleyball suppliers in the world. They have no showroom, but the public can go to their website at www.spikenashbar.com or call 1-800-Spike-It or 1-800-774-5348.

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