History of Beach Volleyball A Timeline of USA Volleyball Sand Success

History of beach volleyball Misty May Treanor, Kerri Walsh, Dain Blainton and Karch Kiraly make beach volleyball history on the sand for the United States 

History of Beach Volleyball: Misty May Treanor, Kerri Walsh, Dain Blainton and Karch Kiraly make beach volleyball history for the United States (Daniel J Coomber)History of Beach Volleyball: Misty May Treanor, Kerri Walsh, Dain Blainton and Karch Kiraly make beach volleyball history for the United States (Daniel J Coomber)

The history of beach volleyball contains breathtaking moments, remarkable comebacks, and unforgettable performances that have left an indelible mark on the sport's history.

Let's dig into some of the notable matches and standout achievements by exceptional athletes who have captivated fans worldwide.

The California Beach Volleyball Association is Formed 

  • 1965: The California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) was formed.

The "Quicksand Documentary" is a beach volleyball documentary detailing the history of beach volleyball which started in Southern California and epitomized the Southern California lifestyle.

Birth of the Association of Volleyball Professionals 1983

  • 1983: Twenty years later the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) was formed

  • 1986: The first professional beach volleyball association for women only was created and called the Women's Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA) 

Fun fact: I still have my first WPVA membership card which I got in 1986 which verified my membership. I was so proud. i was also the first black pro beach volleyball player in the United States who joined and competed with the organization. 

I had the honor of playing with my mentor Kathy Gregory in her last pro tournament before she officially retired. Kathy became the long time UC Santa Barbara head coach after she retired.

Here Kathy (age 41) is playing with former Olympic indoor 1984 silver medalist Linda Chisolm who came up short against Janice Opalinski & Lynn Shackleford 

Beach Volleyball Legend And My Friend And Mentor Kathy Gregory Inductee 1989 International Hall of Fame

Kathy Gregory - 1989 International Volleyball Hall of Fame Inductee 

Gregory has literally dominated women's volleyball throughout her playing career. She participated as a team member of the U.S. Pan American and World Games teams and captained the professional San Diego Breaker franchise of the International Volleyball Association.

She was named as a United States Volleyball Association All-Star 15 times and was selected the USVBA Most Valuable Player four times.

In 1984 the USVBA presented her with the coveted All-Time Great Volleyball Players Award.

Dubbed "Queen of the Beach" by admirers, Gregory won top honors as Women's Beach Tournament Player of the Year in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981, and 1983, and was a two-time World Beach Champion. She went on to serve as ESPN-TV commentator for beach volleyball.

(International Volleyball Hall of Fame)

The Very First Pro Indoor Volleyball League in the United States Major League Volleyball Is Launched 

The league began in 1987 and ended short of completing a full season in 1989.

Players consisted of former collegiate All Americans and Olympians.

Players for NY were:

  • Jo Ellen Vrazel (RS)(88-89);
  • April Chapple (OH) (1987); 
  •  Sandy Aughinbaugh (OH) (87-88); 
  •  Karolyn Kirby (OH) (replaced Chappel in 1987-88); 
  • Wendy Stevenson S/Def. Specialist)(87-88); Laura Smith (MB);  
  • Ellen Crandal Orner (MB)(1988); 
  • Ellen Bugalski (MB)(1987); 
  • Nina Mathies (1988); 
  • Lira Vance (1988); 

Players for Minnesota were:1987            MB=Middle Blocker, OH=Outside Hitter, S=Setter

  • Angie DeGroot: S Jill Halstead: OH 
  • Lucia Chudy: MB McDougal: MB 
  • Jerry McGahan (Volleyball Hall of Fame member): Right Side 
  • Annie Adamczak: OH, college-Nebraska, hometown-Moose Lake, Mn.

Head Coach: Jim Coleman 1988 (16 wins-6 losses)[4]


  • Judy Bellomo, 5-10, MB, UC Santa Barbara, Glendale, Ca
  • Merja Connolly, 6-0, MB, UCLA, Culver City, Ca. 
  • Kathy Crotty-Rodgers, 5-9, OH/S, SW Missouri, Belleville, Ill.
  • Ellen Hensler, 5-8, S, Penn State, North Huntington, Pa.
  • Ruth Lawanson, 5-8, OH, Fresno St., Fresno, Ca. - 1988 League MVP

Head Coach: Walt Weaver                                  Ass't Coach: Jeff Nelson 1989


  • 1 Diane Ratnik, 6-1, S/MB, Canadian National, Scarborough, Ont.
  • 6 Sari Virtanen-Stevens, 6-0, OH/MB, BYU, Provo, UT
  • 7 Ruth Lawanson, 5-8, OH, Fresno St., Fresno, Ca. 
  • 8 Jill Halstead, 5-9, OH, Minnesota, Brooklyn Park, MN 
  • 10 Jackie Silva, 5-7, S, Brazil National, Rio de Janerio, Brazil 
  • 11 Judy Bellomo, 5-10, OH/MB, UC Santa Barbara, Glendale, CA 
  • 12 Ellen Crandall-Orner, 6-0, OH/MB, Penn State, Rockton, Pa. 
  • 13 Janet Cobbs, 6-0, MB, North Dakota St., St. Paul, Mn. 
  • 14 Lori Zeno, 5-9, OH/S, UCLA, Fountain Valley, Ca. 

Head Coach: Jeff Nelson                                    Ass't Coach: Steve Willingham

Fun fact: The Major League Volleyball was the first indoor 6-person indoor volleyball league in the United States and in 1987 I was the first ever first round draft pick in the United States who was drafted to the New York Liberties who was led by my mentor player/coach lthe legendary USA Olympian Mary Jo Peppler and one of my setters was indoor and beach volleyball legend Karolyn Kirby. 

I was still in college finishing my studies while playing with and against accomplished Olympic players older than I was but I was so ready because I'd train on my own at college (the University of Tennessee, Knoxville)  from Monday to Wednesday then fly to New York to practice one day for home games with my team, the Liberties and then play or from Knoxville Id fly to LA, San Francisco, Chicago or Minnesota to compete in away games. i'd fly right to the stadium...and after the game Id fly back to college. 

I even flew into California to play against the LA team and then flew back ...with my parents to Knoxville overnight so the next morning I'd walk with my graduating class ..in my graduation. 

My mom loved that moment. She got a chance to understand what my life was like ..what it was like to be a pro volleyball player, travelling cross country to play and compete. 

After graduation I had to fly to another match and my parents flew back to California. 

I suffered my only injury in Dallas in a match against my friend Olympian Ruth Lawanson where I landed and shredded my ACL which ended my season a few weeks before the end of the season.

In spite of that, at the end of the first season I was one of two players, who weren't Olympians, ..named to the first Major League Volleyball All Star Team.

Two of us, myself and Sandy Aughinbaugh were named to the ALL Star team (the very first ever in the United States for indoor pro volleyball) had not played in an Olympic Games while all the other All-Star members were Olympians. 

Fun fact!

That's me in the opening credits in the first 5 seconds. Dont blink. I'm number 3 left front transitioning off the net to dig on the ten foot line wearing a Body Glove knee sleeve. 

History of Beach Volleyball Timeline: 1990s

Legendary American Stars Karolyn Kirby and Liz Masakayan

Karolyn Kirby and Liz Masakayan, two decorated American beach volleyball pioneers, left an indelible mark on the sport with their exceptional performances.

Kirby's fierce competitiveness and Masakayan's powerful attacking style led them to numerous victories and multiple podium finishes in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Their dynamic partnership contributed significantly to the growth and success of American beach volleyball.

The First Pro Beach Four vs Four Beach Volleyball League in the US

  • 1992: The Four Person Pro Beach Volleyball League was started in the United States.

Four-Woman Pro-Beach Team Champions

  • 1995  Team Sony
  • 1994
  • 1993  Team Champion (We won!) 

- Captain Paula Weishoff (three-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist,                                    -Olympic opposite hitter Tammi Liley,                      -US National Team outside hitter April Chapple (that's me!),                                                                 -Kelly Strand Van Winden (setter/oppo),               -Cheri Boyer Fitzner (setter/oppo)

Fun fact: I was a first round draft pick this year and was also chosen Best Outside Hitter which was fun because our teams were televised on ESPN.

Our team won the Four-Man Championship that year!

Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes Dominance and Teamwork

  • 1996: In the Atlanta Olympics the two-person beach volleyball made its debut as an Olympic Sport.

Karch Kiraly, a true legend of beach volleyball, and his partner Kent Steffes left a lasting impact in Olympic beach volleyball.

Together, they secured the gold medal at the inaugural Olympic beach volleyball tournament in 1996 Atlanta.

Kiraly, already regarded as one of the greatest indoor volleyball players, demonstrated his exceptional versatility by transitioning to the beach and achieving glory on the Olympic stage.

Jaqueline Silva's Groundbreaking Gold: Won The First Ever At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics

The list of legendary Olympic beach volleyball gold medalists BEGINS with the Brazilian queen...Jaqueline Silva who created history as part of the first Brazilian women's beach volleyball team to win Olympic gold in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics the first time beach volleyball appeared in the Olympic Games. .

Paired with Sandra Pires, they navigated the competition with unrivaled skill, defeating legendary American duo Holly McPeak and Nancy Reno in a thrilling final.

Their triumph not only ignited Brazil's passion for beach volleyball but also established a new era of success for Brazilian female athletes.

Fun fact:

I use to train with Jackie (pronounced "Jack-ay" ) when I was learning to play beach under legendary coach Pat Zartman at Hermosa Beach. 

The Best Athletes of Olympic Beach Volleyball: Dain Did It!

  • 1997: Dain Blanton becomes the first African-American professional beach volleyball player in US beach volleyball history to win a tournament on the Miller Lite/AVP Tour

  • 1999: For the first time in the history of volleyball in the Pan Am Games, beach volleyball was introduced in the 13th edition held in Winnepeg, Canada.

History of Beach Volleyball Timeline: 2000s

Eric Fonoimoana and Dain Blainton: Triumph Against All Odds At The Athens 2000 Olympics

Eric Fonoimoana and Dain Blainton's journey to Olympic gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics is a testament to persistence and resilience.

Overcoming numerous challenges, including Fonoimoana's recovery from a career-threatening injury, they defied the odds to claim victory, becoming the first non-white American male beach volleyball pair to win Olympic gold.

  • 2000: Eric Fonoimoana and Dain Blanton (USA) defeat Brazilian champions Ze Roberto and Ricardo Santos claim the first Olympic Beach Volleyball Men's Gold medalists.

The Aussies Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst Create Australian Beach Volleyball History Winning Gold at Sydney 2000

Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst, two Australian athletes coached by American Steve Anderson, created history at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Overcoming fierce competition and vocal home support for their opponents, they clinched the gold medal, becoming the first Australian women's beach volleyball team to win Olympic gold.

Their triumph symbolized the strength and determination of the Australian team on their home turf.

Annett Davis and Jennifer Johnson Jordan: Breaking Barriers and Making Olympic Beach Volleyball History

Annett Davis and Jennifer Johnson Jordan, made Olympic beach volleyball history as an African American beach volleyball pair, made at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Their partnership showcased exceptional skill and determination, while breaking barriers and inspiring future generations.

Jordan, the daughter of Olympic gold medalist decathlete Rafer Johnson, followed in her father's footsteps by representing her country on the international stage.

The BVA Is Launched in 2000

  • 2000: The Women's Beach Volleyball America (BVA) announces their inaugural season of play.

  • 2001: Christopher "Sinjin" Smith partnering with George Roumain, played his final match of his long and industrious career against Dax Holdren and Todd Rogers in the 4th round of the contender's bracket at the AVP Manhattan Beach Open. 

King of the Beach
Sinjin Smith Retires

  • Sinjin retires as the leader in the most beach volleyball tournaments played with 416, second in all-time victories with 139, and fourth in all-time winnings with over US $1.6 million earned.

 The Beach Volleyball Court Size Is Officially Reduced to 8m x 8m

2002: In an effort to make the beach game more fast paced and TV friendly the beach volleyball court dimensions were reduced to 8m x 8m per side.

Olympic Beach Volleyball Legend Karch Kiraly First To Win 3 Million Dollars in Winnings And Oldest Player To Win An AVP Title

  • 2003: Olympic beach volleyball legend Karch Kiraly created another milestone in the history of beach volleyball by becoming the first volleyball player to earn three million dollars in prize money and the oldest player to win an AVP beach volleyball tournament at age 42 years, 9 months and 14 days.

Brazilian Beach Olympian Emmanual Rego's Historic Win Over Spain Is A Gold For Brazil 

In an extraordinary display of determination and skill, Brazilian beach volleyball player Emanuel Rego made history at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Teamed with Ricardo Santos, they faced an strong team against the Spanish duo of Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera.

Rego's strategic genius and sheer resilience led to a stunning victory securing Brazil's first gold medal in beach volleyball for men.

Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Win Their First Olympic Beach Volleyball Gold in Athens


  • 2004: Without losing a set, two of the most famous Olympic beach athletes Kerri Walsh and Misty May win the gold medal and the Women's Olympic Beach Volleyball Title in Athens, Greece.

Brazilian Queens and Olympic champions Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede Get Silver After Losing To Kerri and Misty in the Athens 2004 Finals 

  • 2004 Athens Olympics: The Brazilian women's beach volleyball team, consisting of Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede, got the silver medal after an intense match against Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor of the United States. 
  • This is one of the most memorable Olympic matches, remembered for its incredible rallies and high level of play.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor's Olympic Team Dominance - The Greatest Duo To Ever Play in The History of Beach Volleyball

Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, representing the United States, formed one of the most legendary beach volleyball partnerships in Olympic history.

They captured three consecutive Olympic gold medals from 2004 to 2012, showcasing flawless teamwork, exceptional skills, and remarkable athleticism.

Their indomitable spirit and unrivaled chemistry made them an iconic duo and inspired future generations of beach volleyball athletes.

Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor Win 2005 AVP Women's Championship Title

  • 2005: Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor win their second Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Open women's title and the 2005 overall women's championship.

History of Beach Volleyball Timeline: 2006

Beach Volleyball Olympian Elaine Youngs becomes Third American To Join The Million Dollar Club

  • 2006: Elaine Youngs' second place finish with Rachel Wacholder in Seaside Heights pushes her career earnings past $1 million.

She becomes the third American beach volleyball player to achieve that mark.

  • 2006: In Seaside Heights, both Casey Jennings with Matt Fuerbringer and Kerri Walsh with Misty May-Treanor won titles, becoming just the second husband-wife duo to win pro beach volleyball events on the same weekend. They join Mike and Patty Dodd, who accomplished the feat four times in 1989, but each time in different locations.

  • 2006: Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor win in Chicago as Walsh joins the millionaire club.

She is the 18th person worldwide to win over $1 million in her career, and did so in fewer events (90th tournament) as well as being one of just four to reach the mark before turning 28 years old.

History of Beach Volleyball Timeline: 2007

Karch Kiraly Retires At 2007 Manhattan Beach Open

  • 2007 Karch Kiraly retirement ceremony during the AVP Manhattan Beach Volleyball Open in 2007 by announcer Chris "Geeter" McGee.

Three-time Olympic Gold medalist Misty May Treanor Surpasses Brazilian Beach Queens Behar and Shelda As Winningest Beach Player

  • 2007: Misty May-Treanor passes Brazilians Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede as the winningest player since the women's competition on the international beach volleyball circuit began in 1992.

Olympic Gold Medalist Misty May Treanor Becomes All-Time Wins Leader Surpasses Holly McPeak

  • 2007: Misty May-Treanor becomes the women's all-time wins leader by capturing her 73rd victory, surpassing Holly McPeak's record by winning with Kerri Walsh in Hermosa Beach. She reached this total in just 123 tournaments -- winning 57.5% of her events.

Beach Volleyball Match Sets Record For Longest Played One Hour 41 Minutes

  • 2007: In a championship match that lasted 1:41, Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs defeat Jennifer Boss and April Ross 21-19, 18-21, 16-14 in Seaside Heights. 
  • The marathon set the record for the longest match in rally scoring, men or women, in domestic or international play.

All Time Wins Winner and Money Earner King Karch Kiraly Retires 

  • 2007: Karch Kiraly retires to close an impressive career on the beach, leaving as the all-time wins leader and money earner.

Insuring his mark in beach volleyball history, Karch's longevity was marked by the fact he won a tournament in 24 different years, and he advanced to the semifinals in over 75% of all the events he ever played and was named as the AVP's Most Valuable Player a record six times.

History of Beach Volleyball Timeline: 2008

  • 2008: Hot Winter Nights, a series of 19 events in January and February, kicks off in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma marking the first ever indoor beach volleyball tour. 
  • Mark Williams and Nancy Mason were the first winners in the "King of the Beach format" events.

Olympians Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings Win Gold Again At The Beijing Olympics 

  • 2008: At the Beijing Olympics in a rainy final championships game against the host Chinese team Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh make beach volleyball history by defending their gold medal title becoming the first Americans men or womens beach volleyball team to win consecutive Olympic gold medals.

Phil and Todd Win The First Ever Olympic Beach Gold For American Men 

  • 2008 Beijing Olympics: Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers of the United States won the gold medal in men's beach volleyball, defeating the Brazilian team in the final. 
  • This victory marked the first Olympic gold for the United States in men's beach volleyball.

  • 2010: The AVP closes its doors unable to raise the money needed to conclude the 2010 pro beach volleyball season. 

Three Olympic Beach Gold Medals for Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings

  • 2012 London Olympics: Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States won their third consecutive Olympic gold medal in women's beach volleyball, joining the ranks of volleyball legends with their remarkable achievement.
  • 2016 Rio Olympics: The Brazilian men's beach volleyball team of Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt delighted their home crowd by winning the gold medal, defeating the Italian team in a thrilling final match.

Olympic beach volleyball has delivered breathtaking matches, historic upsets, and standout individual performances that have thrilled fans worldwide.

From the dominance of Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor to the memorable comeback of Emanuel Rego, these legendary moments embody the spirit and intensity of Olympic competition.

By celebrating the achievements of iconic athletes like Jaqueline Silva, Karolyn Kirby, and Liz Masakayan, Annett Davis, Jennifer Johnson Jordan, Eric Fonoimoana, Dain Blainton, Natalie Cook, Kerri Pottharst, Karch Kiraly, Kent Steffes, and countless others represent the enduring spirit of Olympic competition. 

We honor the legacy they have left behind and look forward to more unforgettable moments that will shape the future of beach volleyball in the Olympic Games.

Through their talents, dedication, and sportsmanship, these exceptional athletes have cemented their place in the annals of beach volleyball history, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations to admire and emulate.

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Private or semiprivate volleyball indoor/sand lessons are an excellent way for young Las Vegas high school volleyball players to quickly improve their individual skills through a private or semi-private coaching experience.

These lessons are conducted by former pro volleyball player, former USA Volleyball High Performance instructor and Evaluator and Tstreet Vegas 18s head Coach April Chapple on a weekly basis.

Sign up now!Private or semiprivate volleyball indoor/sand lessons are an excellent way for young Las Vegas high school volleyball players to quickly improve their individual skills through a private or semi-private coaching experience. These lessons are conducted by former pro volleyball player, former USA Volleyball High Performance instructor and Evaluator and Tstreet Vegas 18s head Coach April Chapple on a weekly basis. Sign up now!

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I share alot of individual, partner and easy-to-do volleyball serving drills we do in class with my followers.

Many of these volleyball practice drills you can do at home by yourself or try at your next practice with your teammates.

If you're a B team or JV player trying to make varsity next year...your goal should be to complete 1000 reps a day of at least three of the basic skills on your own...volleyball passing, serving and setting should be at the top of the list. 

Learn more about the history of beach volleyball in the pages below.

  • Improve Your Volleyball Performance with Vegas VB Coach April Chapple
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  • How To Play Beach Volleyball Competitively Why Learn The Beach Basics?
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