Youngsters from the Central Coast and beyond dove for, served and spiked volleyballs at the Wadsworth courts in Pismo Beach Saturday.
It was another busy day of California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) age group tournaments at Wadsworth.
Makenna Wolfe, an 11-year old Shell Beach resident, and her partner, 13-year-old Mikaela Mullahey, gave it a go throughout the morning against older players.
"I've been playing beach volleyball for two years," Makenna said. "I play indoor and outdoor volleyball. I like playing outdoors best because you can dive for balls and not get hurt."
Many of the youngsters came from nearby cities to play, but sisters Emily and Evie Graham came up from San Diego to the Central Coast on a family outing and nearly made the several hundred miles journey home with a Girls Under 18 championship.
"We play a lot (of beach volleyball) in San Diego," the sisters said.
Arroyo Grande High School students Jamie Walsh and Brynn Thoming came from 5-1 down to defeat the Grahams 21-16 for their second age group title this summer on the Wadsworth courts.
The pair are in their first summer of playing together.
The left-handed Walsh pounded big serve after big serve, and she and Thoming both consistently found hitting openings as they gradually seized momentum. The Grahams fought off four match points and then the Arroyo Grande pair finally prevailed.
"Some days I can feel my serve is really good, and some days it's a little off," said Walsh, who plays right side opposite hitter for the Arroyo Grande varsity during the indoor volleyball high school season.
"Today was definitely an 'on' day," for her serve.
Walsh has cleared 5 feet, 3 inches in the high jump and, "One of my biggest strengths is going up to hit the ball," she said.
As the championship match went along, "It was just a matter of us being aware of where people were on the court and spotting the openings," said Thoming.
Thoming played on the Arroyo Grande varsity indoor team as a freshman last season as a left side hitter. She said, "(The Grahams) beat us in pool play so we really had to be aware of where they were on the court and where the openings were for us."
Ryan Meffert of Arroyo Grande, 15, and Sawyer McSorley of San Luis Obispo, 14, are in their second summer together as partners. They took the Boys Under 16 title Saturday.
"I first got interested in volleyball from watching a foreign exchange student, Taylor Janisch who went to Arroyo Grande, play indoor volleyball," said Meffert.
Meffert said he plays "either libero or defensive specialist," for his indoor Arroyo Grande High School volleyball squad.
"I like playing both (indoors and outdoors)," Meffert said.
He echoed Makenna Wolfe's sentiments about beach volleyball. "The part I really like about playing beach volleyball," said Meffert, "is being able to dive for balls and not get hurt."
McSorley is an outside hitter in indoor volleyball. "The part I like best about playing outdoors is you get more touches than you do in indoor volleyball," he said.
Meffert and McSorley defeated Arroyo Grande-based partners Logan Siemens and Sasha Bylsma 28-10 for the Boys Under 16 crown. Siemens and Bylsma may have been a bit gassed from their marathon 31-29 win over A.J. Panetta and Hoang Le in the semifinals.
Panetta, a 14-year-old from Arroyo Grande, and Le, a 15-year-old from Grover Beach, are in their first summer of playing together.
Panetta, a setter, is another fan of beach volleyball "because you can dive for the ball and not get hurt."
He has been playing for four years. "Setting in beach volleyball is different than in indoor volleyball -- the rules are very strict," Panetta said. "Where you set just depends on where your partner is."
Le likes being involved in every play in beach volleyball. "I like being able to get out and hit the ball," he said.
Sage Whitham and Sophia Kolb, both 13, were co-captains for the Pismo Beach-based Judkins Middle School girls volleyball team last school year. They were partners Saturday.
"I like beach volleyball way more," than the indoor variety, said Whitham. "You get to touch the ball more."
Kolb sounded what was a familiar theme among the youngsters Saturday.
"I like being able to dive for the ball in beach volleyball," she said.