Inaugural MBVT season a hit

About 75 teams came out for the Midwest Beach Volleyball Tour's last of three stops at Grand Haven on Saturday. "It's something that a lot of people enjoy,' said Stacey Johnston, who ran the amateur tournament. "(The tournament helps) the sport to grow and it's just fun to be in the sand and be at the beach and hang out.'
Lydia Coutré
Jul 25, 2011

The professional tournament was canceled because not enough teams signed up. Johnston’s brother, Steven VanderWerp, was one of many of the tour’s regular professional players out of town for other tournaments.

Those who usually play in the professional tournament joined the top division in the amateur competition. Johnston said many teams stepped down a level to compensate for the change.

To see the photo gallery from the event, click here.

Eric Pupek, 23, of Muskegon, said he usually plays in the pro tournament.

“We’re just playing AA, the highest division that they’ve got right now.” Pupek said. “It is what it is. They didn’t have enough teams to make it a pro tournament, so I understand.”

Matt O’Sullivan of South Haven, 35, said he plays tournaments all summer throughout West Michigan and into Chicago.

“This tournament is one of the better ones,” O’Sullivan said. “Lots of fun, and the setting is beautiful. We play at least two or three tournaments here a year because it’s one of the best beaches.”

Julie Brusie, 26, came to Grand Haven for the tournament from Louisville, Ky. Brusie, originally from Grand Rapids, said she tries to come to tournaments as often as she can, but “it’s hard to make it up for all of them.”

“It’s just a great community event. Everyone comes out. Everyone has fun,” Brusie said. “It’s good clean fun, and it’s a great way to keep athletics going after college because there’s not many … groups of athletes getting together after college. So it’s a way for us to all stay in shape and have fun on weekends.”

Jesse Denbrock of Jackson said he’s a basketball turned volleyball player and has been playing beach volleyball for about six years. He said it was a little windy but overall a good day.

“We could have used a few more wins, but we’re having fun,” Denbrock joked. “I like to play with my girl and spend the day at the beach and just play competitive, get out of town and just try my hand (and) my game against everybody else’s.”

Johnston’s father, Scott VanderWerp, who usually runs the tournament, started the tour to help provide a venue for beach volleyball players to compete.

“My brother, Steven VanderWerp, played volleyball since he was 5,” Johnston said. “My dad was just trying to help grow the sport, and kind of help some of the local players around here just be able to keep playing and get some more tournaments together.”

Kyle Flikkema of Grand Rapids, 22, said he has been playing for about two years, and the tournament was a great opportunity to compete.

“We’ve been talking about playing for a while and getting into a tournament,” Flikkema said. “And so we finally saw that the tour was coming here, so we decided to join along. … It’s good to have a big group of people like this with a wide range of competition. I really like it. I really enjoy it.”

The results of the tournament are as follows:

• Mens AA — Charles VanRees/Brandyn Thorsen

• Womens AA —Lori Armstrong/Sara Smothers

• Mens A — Marcus Goudie/Jeff Plott

• Womens A — Katie VanderMeer/Emma Erickson

• 14 and under —Lauren Helsen/Peyton Helson

• 16 and under — Sydney/Early

• 18 and under — Payton/Ashley

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