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44th King of the Mountain the biggest yet

Doubles volleyball matches take place in droves at Ford Park in Vail on Friday. Vail's King of the Mountain volleyball event is one of the biggest doubles tournaments in the country.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

VAIL — It’s the biggest volleyball event in the town’s history, and this year, it will also be biggest beach doubles tournament in the U.S.

Taking place this weekend at Ford Park and the Vail Athletic Fields, the Vail King of the Mountain Open registered 728 teams of two this year, more than tournament organizer Leon Fell has seen in the 44 years he has run the event.

“We usually get another 40 to 50 teams registering on site throughout the weekend,” Fell said Friday. “It will definitely be the biggest beach doubles tournament in the country in 2016.”



BUTCH MAY IS BACK

After his first-ever visit to Vail last year, 73-year-old Hawaiian Butch May warned us: He will be back. Making good on that promise, the Olympic volleyball player returned to Ford Park this weekend to enjoy the King of the Mountain tournament.



As a testament to the lasting relationships the sport has fostered here in the U.S., May brought with him his co-ed playing partner, Eileen McClintock.

“We played together 50 years ago,” May said.

“She’s like my mom,” said Misty May-Treanor, Butch May’s daughter.



In town again for her Dream in Gold volleyball clinic, May-Treanor represents the middle generation in one of the country’s most well-known volleyball families. Her daughter, two-year-old Malia, joined her on the trip this year, along with friend of the family Josannah Vazquez, whose father was a strength trainer for Misty May-Treanor’s husband, former Major League Baseball player Matt Treanor.

“I love it here,” May-Treanor said Friday. “This is one of our best stops.”

May-Treanor is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and the second most-successful female player in the history of the sport, with 112 individual and team wins. Her Dream in Gold youth volleyball clinics travel the country with a goal of introducing youth players to all facets of the game and expand on their knowledge of the sport. Last year was the Dream in Gold clinic’s first trip to Vail.

“It’s great to bring volleyball to an area where it’s not necessarily known for,” May-Treanor said.

OUT-OF-STATE FAMILIES

Visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico, JP Montoya said the Dream in Gold clinic was one of the major motivators for him to bring his family to Vail this weekend. His daughter, 12-year-old Katarina, participated in the clinic Friday while her sister, 9-year-old Kiana, watched from the sidelines.

“We’re going to play in the tournament tomorrow, but we’re here to get some extra help today from Misty May,” Katarina Montoya said during a break from the clinic on Friday.

Michelle Montoya, Katarina’s mother, said besides one tournament in Denver earlier this season, the Vail tournament is the family’s only trip out of the Albuquerque area for volleyball.

“There’s probably 20 or so families from the Albuquerque area here,” Montoya said. “We heard about the Vail tournament from our club, Stoneface Premier.”

Today, Katarina will partner with 12-year-old Sevastian Malcolm of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the 12-and-younger doubles tournament.

“It will be our first time playing together,” she said.

Malcolm was joined by his mother, Raquel Valdez, also of Santa Fe.

“It was an easy drive,” she said. “I had my teenage son driving most of the way.”

Offering 26 different divisions of play, the The 44th Annual Vail King of the Mountain Open culminates on Sunday evening on the sand courts at the Vail Athletic Fields with the pro division.

For more information, visit http://www.kingof themountainvolleyball.com.


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