Beach Volleyball: They Gathered at Gurney’s

A prelude to a six-week league to begin July 11.
Tahlia Miller, left, is among a number of former East Hampton High School stars who will play in Gurney’s coed beach volleyball league this summer. The State University of New York Athletic Conference’s men’s basketball player of the year, Hayden Ward, right,set the ball for a teammate at Gurney’s last Thursday evening. Jack Graves Photos

     A number of strong volleyballers, including Kim Valverde, whose Hillsborough Junior College team placed seventh in the nation, Jesse Libath, Hayden Ward, the State University Athletic Conference’s player of the year in men’s basketball, and Tahlia Miller, showed up at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk last Thursday evening for an informal round of 4-on-4 games — a prelude to a six-week league to begin July 11.
    Valverde, an honorable mention all-American libero when she was at East Hampton High, is playing on Air & Speed, last year’s runner-up to the Beach Diplomats, along with Josh Brussell, Bonac’s boys volleyball coach, and his assistant, Jon Jamet.
    Libath, who played for the champion Beach Diplomats last season, ought to provide considerable firepower for Bonac Yard Sale. Tahlia Miller and her brother, Connor, better known perhaps for his play on the rugby pitch, James Keogh, and Rachael and Sarah Faraone should make the Burritos very competitive.
    Another strong player who was not there that night undoubtedly will be Raya O’Neal, who, said Kathy McGeehan, the league’s organizer, was at U.S.A. Volleyball’s junior championships in Texas. O’Neal, who set a career assist record on McGeehan’s team last fall, with 1,616, will be a senior at East Hampton High School this fall.
    League play, as aforesaid, is to begin next Thursday. “We’ll go for six weeks,” said McGeehan, “and end it on Aug. 15. We’re ending earlier this year than last because so many have to leave for college.”
    McGeehan added that it was nice to see among the players some children — namely Lydia and Jenna Budd and Katie Brierley — of people she’d played beach volleyball with at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett 25 years ago, the last time there was organized beach volleyball here.
    Besides the above-named, other entries in the Gurney’s Inn league are Hamptons Free Ride, Sea Capture, Sloppy Tuna A and B, Gurney’s, Naturally Good/On Point, the Montauk Beach House, Lydi, and Shelter Island Volleyball.