The Beach Diplomats, a team got together by Chris Carney whose roster included a former Olympic decathlete from Ghana, Kofi Sekyiamah, wound up winning the Gurney’s Inn beach volleyball league’s finals last Thursday, coming back to best top-seeded Air and Speed 17-21, 21-16, 21-14.
“It was great volleyball,” said Kathy McGeehan, the league’s founder and girls volleyball coach at East Hampton High School, who in the summertime works as a fitness instructor at Gurney’s Spa in Montauk.
As for the 10-team 4-on-4 league, co-sponsored by Diplomatico Rum of Venezuela and Gurney’s, the first organized beach volleyball here apparently in 25 years, McGeehan (who played then with the Blender Beach Bombers at Amagansett’s Atlantic Avenue Beach) said that “for the first year it went really well.”
Dr. George Dempsey, whose team was swept by the Beach Diplomats in one of that evening’s semifinals — Air and Speed cruised to a 2-0 win over Shelter Island in the other — said that Air and Speed and the Beach Diplomats were “the two dominant teams here this summer.”
The former University of California at San Diego player, who is a general practitioner in East Hampton and whose son, Pierre, and daughter, Mariah, played with him on Team Dempsey, said, in answer to a question, that he thought he was the eldest competitor in the league, “and, unfortunately, I play like it.”
The final was, as aforesaid, hard-fought, for Air and Speed had on it Dan Weaver, who has coached East Hampton’s boys volleyball team in recent years, and his successor, Josh Brussell, and two former high school players, Summer Foley and Jon Jamet. Besides Sekyiamah, the Diplomats numbered Jessie Libath, a former Bonac star, Beth Crowley, and Jack Behan.
Weaver and Brussell served out Air and Speed’s win in the first game, with Behan erring several times going down to the wire. The Diplomats broke a 16-16 tie in the second, winning the final five points.
After Foley had served an ace to Crowley, Behan got the ball back for the Diplomats when his shot hit the line, a sideout that put the ball into the hands of Libath, who served out the set.
“It was pretty much Kofi setting Jessie [for thunderous kills] in the middle in the last game,” McGeehan said. “Air and Speed missed some crucial serves, and once he was moved into the middle Jessie overpowered them.”
Earlier in the season, Sekyiamah said the Diplomats were “the team to beat,” and while they finished the regular season as the runner-up to Air and Speed, he was proved right.
Air and Speed’s chances would undoubtedly have been greater had Kim Valverde, an All-American honorable mention libero when she played at East Hampton High School, not had to go back to college. She’s playing at Hillsborough Junior College in Tampa, Fla., this year, though McGeehan said she was out for the moment, following a concussion she’d suffered in a collision.