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La Paz Beach Tournament kicks off NORCECA Circuit


LA PAZ, Mexico, April 5, 2017 – The NORCECA Beach Volleyball season gets underway on Friday when the double-gender tournament at La Paz in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico kicks off for second consecutive year.


Twelve male pairs and nine female duos have been registered to play in the opening event of the 2017 NORCECA Circuit.


The men’s field includes the all-time most successful player in NORCECA Juan Virgen partnering with Lombardo Ontiveros. Virgen has won 32 tournaments in the history of the circuit while Ontiveros has 18, all but one with Virgen.


Other big names among the men’s teams are Cubans Karell Peña and Daisel Quesada, winners in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic the last two years, and the American team of Stafford Slick and Reid Priddy, the latter starting a beach career after many successful years with the USA volleyball team.


The women’s event also features relevant teams with good history in NORCECA and at other international scenes.


Canadian Brandie Wilkerson, who won last year in La Paz playing along Julie Gordon, will team up with Heather Bansley. Both Canadians have won medals of different colors in the past.


Three-time gold medalist Taylor Pischke of Canada is entering the event with Kristina May, while the United States will be represented by the powerful duos of Betsi Flint and Kelly Larsen and Brittany Hochevar and four-time winner Emily Day.


In the inaugural event last year, the Cuban duo of Nivaldo Díaz and Sergio Gonzalez took home the gold medals and top prize of US$3,000 in the men’s event, while Canadians Julie Gordon and Brandie Wilkerson won the women´s competition and the same first place purse.


Díaz/Gonzalez swept the USA team of William Allen and Stafford Slick 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) while compatriots Kelly Reeves and Allison Daley-McColloch succumbed to Gordon/Wilkerson 2-1 (19-21, 21-11, 15-10).


The American teams of brothers Trevor and Taylor Crabb won the men’s bronze medals while Kimberly Dicello and Kendra Vanzwieten finished third among the women.