Karolyn Kirby - Introduced To Beach Volleyball
Introduced to Beach Volleyball
Being from the northeast, where the weather can be unpleasant, and attending college in the nation's interior, Kirby did not come into contact with beach volleyball until 1984. As the captain of the U.S. national volleyball team, she was taking a break from tournament action, walking on a California beach with teammate Angela Rock. The two came upon an open beach volleyball tournament and decided to give it a shot, figuring they could easily beat the local competition. The experience was a humbling one; the two volleyball superstars failed to win a single game. What Kirby quickly discovered is that beach volleyball is a serious sport for serious athletes. The court, ball, and net are all the same as indoor volleyball, but with only two on a team, each member must cover an incredible amount of the court as well as compete with the wind, sun, hot temperatures, and shifting sand under foot.
The experience on the sand court stayed with Kirby. During 1986-87 Kirby played for the New York Liberties in Major League Volleyball. She also traveled Europe playing in tournaments. In 1987 she decided to give beach volleyball a try at the professional level during her summers and joined the Women's Professional Volleyball Association (WVPA). Teaming up with Sandy Aughinbaugh-Fahey for two events in 1987 and with Jo Ellen Vrazel for five events in 1988, Kirby posted a record of 11-14.
Gaining skills and experience, Kirby stepped up the competition in 1989 with her new partner, Dale Hall. She entered 13 tournaments, posted a positive record of 40-24, and took home more than $10,000 in prize money. Her best finish was third place. Kirby won her first tournament in 1990, the year she began her five-year domination of the tour, playing with partners Patty Dodd and Jackie Silva. In 16 tournament appearances, Kirby posted eight wins and finished in the money six other times. She earned over $41,000 on the beach in 1990 and was named the Women Professional Volleyball Association's (WPVA) Most Valuable Player as well as the tour's top offensive player.