Lanikai’s Grass Volleyball Tourney Gets Bigger Each Year

Ideal backdrop aside, the Lanikai Open (4-on-4) grass volleyball tour-nament’s appeal just might be that the event draws all walks of life from the growing volleyball community. That was plainly the plan, according to Ed Chun, who created the tournament four years ago.

“That was the goal – to have everyone who is interested in the sport be able to enjoy an event together,” he said. “The varying skill levels and different age groups that come out is awesome to see. We’ve had guys between 67 and 70 years old playing and kids only 14. And we’ve had your everyday player and your more successful Division I college players from the area.”

This year’s Lanikai Open is July 14 at Lanikai Park with as many as 40 teams likely to play. The tournament, which drew 22 teams in its inaugural year, had 35 teams last year. Chun said the growth of the tournament will likely make 2012 the last year the event can fit into one day.

“It will probably be a two-day event, beginning next year. Interest in volleyball has really grown here.” Chun, who also heads Kalaheo’s boys volleyball program, used to play in the event himself, but no longer can fit in playing with the growth of the tournament.

As was the case last year, the Lanikai Open will have four divisions – an “A” Open Division for Men, an “A” Open Division for women, and “B” Masters Divisions for both men and women.

“The ‘A’ Division is for your college-level players and above, while the ‘B’ Division is more recreational and for older players,” Chun explained.

Since the 4-on-4 format is unique, Chun also believes that it contributes to a more competitive tournament. “There’s more of an even playing field. Not too many people play four-man, so no one can really be prepared for a four-man tournament since you don’t do it very often.”

Chun also strives to provide “a pro-athlete type of feel” for participants. “We try to take care of them as much as we can through our sponsorship. Last year, Hawaii Sports Chiropractic offered massages to players during breaks.”

Chun was still finalizing sponsorship for this year’s event, although Phiten is once again confirmed. Fee for the 2012 tournament is $175.00 per team, with rosters able to include up to six players.

He also will oversee another volleyball event July 28, the Koolau Classic at Le Jardin Academy. It also will be played on grass and will utilize the 4-on-4 format. For more information, call 630-4565.