McKienzie-Toppel topple the field at East Beach

Dave McKienzie was full of confidence coming into Saturday’s Santa Barbara Open beach volleyball tournament.

McKienzie last week combined with former San Marcos High star Brook Billings and gave the world’s No. 1-ranked pro beach volleyball team a good battle at the AVP Tour Belmar Beach Open in New Jersey.

Coming out of the qualifying rounds, McKienzie and Billings lost to Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser in the main draw. But they gained some respect from the best team in the world.

Boosted by that ego boost, McKienzie came to Santa Barbara and played with former Stanford three-time All-American Curt Toppel. The pair played steady all day and won the championship, beating USC teammates Tony Ciarelli and Jeff Carlson, 21-16, 27-25, in the final.

The victory earned them $500 and an automatic berth in the main draw at the AVP Hermosa Beach Open, July 16-18.

Top-seeded Erin Gray and Kathryn Babcock captured the $500 first prize and Hermosa Beach main-draw slot in the women’s competition. Gray-Babcock outlasted Heather Lowe-Tealle Hunkus, 21-18, 25-23, 15-8, in the title match.

The third-place women’s teams were Lauren Mills-Veronica Hinga and Tarin Keith-Sara Fredrickson.

In the men’s semifinals, McKienzie-Toppel defeated Andy Northness-Mike Maghy and Ciarelli-Carlson upset top-seeded and former UCSB standouts Aaron Mansfield and Theo Brunner.

Former Santa Barbara High star Will Montgomery and Ryan Ammerman placed fifth.

On the women’s side, Patti Cook and Tiffany Rodriguez took fifth and former Gaucho Olivia Waldowski and Gabriela Roney finished ninth.

The tournament was part of the Semana Nautica summer sports festival.