The 51st edition of the Seawright Volleyball Tournament continued in Hermosa Beach with a slight change to the north from its original location and a new host.
This year’s champions were led by Roy McFarland, 21, of Manhattan Beach in a 15-5 victory in the championship against a team led by Drew Punjabi at 28th Street and The Strand last Saturday.
“We were just serving and digging balls low again and started getting aces,” said McFarland, who is still playing collegiately at UC Santa Barbara. “We kind of fed off that. It was awesome, we kept the fire going.”
They trailed early in the match 5-2, but after it swung in their favor, the momentum and the serving were too much for Punjabi’s team to overcome.
McFarland’s team was unbeaten on the day. It was his first Seawright championship in his second try.
“When we have a team like this where everybody can dig, everybody can set it just makes it so easy,” McFarland said.
There were 32 teams at the beginning and 16 advanced to the playoffs with the No. 1 seed being the Blake Taylor team. They lost in the first round.
In the end, it was a bunch of new players walking off the winners.
It was fitting that McFarland ended the match on a service ace.
Also on the team was Rick Coordt, 48, of Hermosa Beach, who was celebrating his birthday. He started playing in it when he was 21. It was his first win, but second appearance in the final.
“It feels great,” Coordt said. “Roy was awesome.”
His other teammates were Jim McDonald, 56, of Hermosa Beach who won for the second time in several tries.
“We had youth on our side and we’re just slugging away,” McDonald said.
The youngest player has not even finished high school. Logan Sharp is going into his senior year at El Segundo and played a big role on the winning team.
“It’s my family’s house,” said Sharp, who was playing in the tournament for the first time in front of his grandparents’ home on The Strand.
He was a winner on his first try.
“Tough tournament to win-for sure,” Sharp said. “(Roy McFarland is) a great player, obviously an easy guy to set.”
Sharp said he will be back next year and try to make it 2-for-2.
On the losing team besides Punjabi was the husband-and-wife pair of Matthew and Rachel Pianin. Joe Del Riego was the fourth player.
“This is my first time in the finals,” said Matthew Pianin, who has played in the Seawright nearly every year since 2004. “It’s always a great tournament.”
“They did great,” said Rachel Pianin of the winners. “They had good servers.”
It was her first final after many tries and added, “I loved my team, we had so much fun. (Punjabi) had a great attitude. He’s amazing. He’s positive. He can do it all.”
“Just killed us on the serves,” said Del Riego, who has won the Seawright once. “They were good guys.”
In the semifinals, Team Weston Barnes lost to Punjabi’s team in the semifinals 14-12.
Andy Dallenbach, Redondo Beach, was unfortunately on the losing end.
“We had our banger cramp in the quarterfinals. Basically, couldn’t jump and toughed it out, ended getting into the semifinals, still cramping.
“Some tough serving by them and that was the difference,” Dallenbach said. “I’ve won it once and we came pretty close today.”
Like many who play in it, Dallenbach said of the Seawright, “An insane tournament, always one of the best tournaments on the beach.”
“It was a really fun semifinal,” said Lauren Dibbs of Manhattan Beach, who has yet to be on a team that wins it all. “I would rather lose that way.”
In the other semifinal, McFarland’s team won 11-8 over Chris Brown’s team. Brown, of Hermosa Beach, gave it his best shot.
“It was just tight the whole way,” Brown said. “It was one of those long matches.”
The annual Roy Seawright Award was given to Larry Griebenow from Hermosa Beach.
“He has played since the 1970s (over 40 years),” said Annie Seawright. “Larry has played longer than anybody out here today. He played with his family.”
The Live Like Doug Award named after Doug Schneider is for sportsmanship and embodying the principles of the tournament. It was given to Victor Arrigo from Hermosa Beach.
“It’s somebody that embodies his spirit,” Seawright said. “He embraced the beach lifestyle and values of fun, family and beach. Everything that Doug stood for.”