Courting success

1st indoor beach volleyball facility in Arizona opens in Peoria
By: 
CARY HINES, Assistant editor

Photos by Cary Hines
Beach House Volleyball co-owners Brian Lambeth, left, Brett O’Keeffe and Michael Pixler stand in front of the newly installed giant flat screen Aug. 17 inside the Peoria facility off 84th Avenue south of Bell Road.

Brett Johnson, Beach House Volleyball league/tournament director, serves the ball during a game Aug. 17 in the state’s first indoor beach volleyball facility.

Johnson goes up for the block against Beach House owners Brett O’Keeffe and Michael Pixler.

Arizonans no longer need to travel to San Diego to get their closest game of beach volleyball on. Beach House Volleyball, the only indoor sand volleyball facility in the state, opened Aug. 11 in Peoria.

Beach House Volleyball, at 16681 N. 84th Ave., Suite 130, offers leagues, tournaments, camps, training, birthday parties and corporate team events. Beach tennis is also available, and future plans call for dodgeball, cornhole and beach yoga.

But it’s predominantly a youth training facility, co-owner Brian Lambeth said.

“So we’re going to focus on juniors,” Lambeth said. “First and foremost, anybody who’s 18 and under who wants to train to get better to play tournaments both in Arizona and in California, we’re going to handle those practice sessions and training here, and then around that, we will build adult leagues and have other open play opportunities for adults to come in and play and get out of the heat, as well.”

Beach volleyball helps advance players’ skills because each team only has two players, Lambeth said.

“First of all, you’re going to touch the ball on every play,” Lambeth said. “You and your partner have three touches to get the ball back over, so you are touching the ball once or twice on every single play.”

He said it requires players to move and to read where the ball is going.

“We firmly believe that this makes you a better indoor court player because A, you’re touching the ball so often, and B, you have to move and read the ball so often, so you just get more touches, more repetitions,” he said. “Many college coaches, even indoor college coaches, feel this is a benefit to them and their program because of all of the repetition, and the amount of explosiveness you build up trying to move in the sand. So it will absolutely help your vertical jump.”

The 14 inches of sand also make for a low-impact sport.

“I’m only 32 and I sometimes wake up in pain, but I’ve noticed that my pain level is significantly less playing at Beach House,” Beach House Volleyball Tournament/League Director Brett Johnson said. “It’s the depth of the sand that really helps. It’s a lower impact versus a lot of the sand courts in Arizona. Most courts have hard packed sand so you’re landing at close to 1,000 pounds of force over and over. But on deeper sand, it’s probably half that. Like landing on a cushion.”

The sand, which cost $100,000, comes from a sand pit in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Lambeth said. It took more than 20 trucks to deliver the 400 tons over a three-day period. It covers the facility’s three courts, which can easily be converted into beach tennis as the only difference is the height of the nets.

“So we don’t have to make any adjustments with the court, dimensions themselves, we just have to lower the net, which our net systems fully allow,” Lambeth said.

He said beach tennis is an extremely popular international sport.

“It’s very big in Italy, Spain, Brazil, as well as in the Caribbean,” he said. “One tournament, for example, in Aruba drew 2,000 people — 2,000 entrants — for basically a major beach tennis event. And from what I’ve heard, there are beaches in Italy, beaches in Aruba where there are 30-40 beach tennis courts lined up, end to end, with nothing but beach tennis players.”

Beach House Volleyball was two years in the making, from conception to opening weekend, Lambeth said, adding indoor beach volleyball isn’t a novel concept, but it’s new to Arizona.

“We saw the need and decided, ‘Why not now? Why not us? Why not Phoenix?’”

He and his co-owners searched for a number of different locations around north Phoenix before settling on the Peoria digs.

“We wanted to be along the 101 corridor,” Lambeth said. “This was the place that just worked out for us.”

Opening weekend at Beach House Volleyball went well, Lambeth said.

“We had a steady stream of a couple hundred people in here both days,” he said. “Some people that were here Saturday came back Sunday.”

Beach House Volleyball is open seven days a week, currently from noon to 11 p.m. Eventually, it will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight. It is closed on holidays.

The biggest thing about beach volleyball is the lifestyle, co-owner Brett O’Keeffe said.

“Everyone wants the southern California beach lifestyle and that’s what beach volleyball brings,” O’Keeffe said. “In its own small way, you feel like you’re a part of the California surf and beach community by playing this sport. Everybody’s very close in the volleyball community and everybody’s essentially cheering us on and supporting us with this because they know what we’re adding to the growth of volleyball here in Arizona is pretty significant.”

To learn more about Beach House Volleyball, go to www.beachhousevolleyball.com or visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/beachhousevolleyball/.

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Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
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Ph: (623) 842-6000
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