Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings will be there. So will gold medal volleyballer Phil Dalhausser.
Hell, even the band American Authors and Josh Hutcherson from the Hunger Games are slated to make an appearance.
From August 18 to August 23, the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball (AWSOBV) will kick off in Long Beach for the third time, hosting 128 of the world’s top volleyball players.
The volleyball extravaganza will feature concerts, celebrity appearances, and, most importantly, serve as the last qualifying event before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“The ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball is the largest beach volleyball celebration in the world,” event organizer Leonard Armato told the Post.
He said this year’s tournament, free to spectators, is doubly important, due to its role for the 2016 Olympics, especially for Olympians Kerri Walsh Jennings and Phil Dalhausser, who are competing in the tournament after being sidelined by injuries. There are 12 events around the world that serve as qualifying tournaments, and the top finishers around the world qualify for Olympic berths, according to Armato. Because Walsh Jennings and Dalhausser missed a few of the other events, they will need to put their best foot forward AWSOBV to prove themselves worthy of an Olympic spot.
The AWSOBV will be Walsh Jennings' first competition in a month—and a competition that will force her to showcase her best skills in order to qualify for the Olympics.
“This is a very important event for Walsh Jennings,” said Armato, noting it’s the first Olympics Walsh Jennings is attempting to qualify for with a new partner, as her longtime partner and Long Beach resident Misty May-Treanor retired after the 2012 games. She will be playing in the open, recreational competition, according to Armato.
“It should be interesting,” said Armato.
NBC will telecast the event for 14 hours live, on Saturday, August 22 and Sunday, August 23. According to a release sent by the AWSOBV, the competition will be broadcast globally in more than 120 countries, including other coverage on NBCSN and the Universal Sports Network.
But it’s not just about the volleyball competition, according to Armato. The event features a music festival produced in conjunction with iHeart Radio, including performances by the American Authors and Adam Lambert. A celebrity charity match featuring Josh Hutcherson, of the Hunger Games fame, as well as a six-person competition and youth championship are set to round out the week’s events.
“It’s a real celebration of the sport,” said Armato.
Even more exciting is that it’s in Long Beach’s backyard, next to the convention center. Long Beach was chosen as a venue for the competition two years ago, and this year's event is expected to attract the largest audience population yet. According to the release, last year’s competition drew a crowd of 50,000 spectators, a 42 percent increase over the event’s first year in 2013.
Armato said that while locations such as Manhattan and Hermosa Beach have historically been known for volleyball, Long Beach provided the perfect location for an event the size of AWSOBV, given the city’s experience with hosting large-scale events like the Grand Prix.
“We had to make it scalable—we had to host the event in a city that could accommodate large events,” said Armato. “Our event was designed to showcase the amenities of the city. We’re excited to see everything come together, and we’re excited to partner with Long Beach for the event.”
The full roundup of events for the AWSOBV includes:
- Music Festival Featuring Adam Lambert & the American Authors | Saturday, August 22
- Celebrity Charity Match Benefitting Straight But Not Narrow | Sunday, August 23
- Open Tournament | Four-person, six-person, youth and co-ed games open to the public all week long
- Televised Coverage | Saturday, August 22 and Sunday, August 23
To learn more about the AWSOBV and purchase $50 premium seating (if free attendance doesn’t interest you), click here.