A recent Gallup poll showed that 20 million Americans play volleyball regularly. It only seems like they'll all be in the Salt Lake City this week.
The 1988 U.S. Open Volleyball Championships bring 135 amateur teams to East High and the University of Utah for the week-long event, starting Monday morning. Pool-play matches - a total of 144 a day - will be played at both sites through Thursday and the finals will be in the Huntsman Center Saturday.The competition consists of seven division tournaments, including men's and women's open, women's club, senior men's and women's, men's masters and men's golden masters. The open divisions, obviously, will draw most of the attention.
Molten (orrance, Calif.) is the men's defending champion, led by Jack Hinton of BYU, Steve Salmons, Garth Pischke and Brian Ehlers. The U.S. Olympic team, which won a gold medal in the 1984 Games and is favored again in Seoul, usually competes in this tournament but will skip Salt Lake City this year while touring with the Soviet team.
Four of the Utah-Idaho region's 10 entrants are in the men's open division. The top local team is expected to be Fallout of Orem, with former BYU players Dave and Darrel Richards, Rob Scott and Lane Peterson.
Another highlight in this division will be the appearance of Chicago's Richard Caplan, playing in the tournament for the 50th straight year. Caplan's Kenneth Allen VBC team will open the tournament Monday at 8:45 a.m. at the U. of U.
The Chrysler Californians (leasanton, Calif.) are the returning women's champs, featuring U.S. Olympian Carolyn Becker and former Utah State/current professional player Jo Ellen Vrazel. The Utah entry, Jokkue, is expected to contend. Jokkue features former BYU all-Americas Makki Salmi and Sari Stevens, who now play for the Finnish and Swedish national teams, respectively, along with Cheryl Tye and Sheila Sorensen.
Local college coaches past and present - Marilyn McReavy, Annette Cottle and Julie Morgan - are also on various women's senior team rosters. Cottle also coaches a local women's club team, Dig It.
In the men's senior (0 and over) division, Dalzen/Utah of Provo should be competitive. The team includes former BYU players Matt McShane, Steve Spere and Tom Peterson. In the men's masters division, 1984 U.S. Olympic Coach Doug Beal is a player-coach for Billaue Chiropractic (arina del Rey, Calif.). They're in the same division with Outrigger Canoe Club (onolulu), which lists on its roster a 6-foot-4 player named Thomas Selleck. That's the Tom Selleck who played volleyball at Southern Cal before going on to an acting career. Selleck, who is also the honorary captain for the U.S. national team, may or may not be able to join his Outrigger teammates this week.
Utah also has teams entered in the men's masters, women's club and women's senior divisions. Conducted again this year by tournament director Harold Buckner, the tournament last came to Salt Lake City in 1972 and is back as a result of the efforts of Utah Sports Foundation, which is also sponsoring the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials in August.
A Friday night concert in the Huntsman Center by Dionne Warwick, the national chairperson for Volleyball America, coincides with the tournament. Tickets for the tournament are available for individuals and families on a weekly or daily basis at East High or the University's HPER complex.