ATLANTIC CITY - Things felt right in Atlantic City for professional beach volleyball players April Ross and Jennifer Kessy.
They could see the Atlantic Ocean from the courts. Ross took a dip in the ocean after her Saturday matches.
"We like to play on the coast," Ross said. "The beach culture is what we grew up with. It feels like beach volleyball should."
Ross and Kessy defeated Summer Ross and Emily Day 23-25, 21-16, 15-13 to win the women's championship at the inaugural $100,000 AVP Do AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational on Sunday afternoon. Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson beat Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal 21-19 21-15 to win the men's title. Each of the winners received $13,000.
The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Tour features the nation's best players. Ross and Kessy won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Admission was free, and fans packed the bleachers that surrounded the courts located between the Showboat Casino Hotel and Revel Casino-Hotel. Many spectators watch from the Boardwalk on the sunny, humid day.
There's nothing subtle about beach volleyball. There are plenty of girls in bikinis and guys with six-pack abs. Loud music blares between points and during timeouts. Fans are encouraged to make as much noise as possible.
"This isn't a golf tournament," announcer Dustin Avol said.
The players are fan-friendly. They signed plenty of autographs, and they made sure to thank their sponsors each time a microphone was placed in front of them.
Avol kept the crowd entertained with constant banter.
There was a controversial call in the third game of the women's final.
"How many think that ball was in?" Avol asked.
There were few cheers.
"How many thin that ball was out?" he asked.
The crowd roared.
That exchange shows there that beach volleyball is not your run-of-the mill sport. Try to imagine the public-address announcer at football or baseball game asking the crowd to comment on an official's call.
The players have elaborate nicknames. Avol introduced Rosenthal as Superman. the son of Jor-El.
Patterson played to the crowd. During the men's championship match, Rosenthal continued a point with an excellent dig of a hard spike. A few hits later, Patterson won the point with a dig of his own.
"My dig was better," Patterson said to the crowd.
The men's final matched the tournament favorites in top-seeded Dalhausser and Rosenthal and second-seeded Gibb and Patterson. Gibb helped make the difference in the championship match with six blocks.
Ross and Kessy were the top-seed in the women's tournament. Summer Ross, 20, and Day, 26, were trying for their second straight improbable win. The duo came out of the qualifying round to win an AVP event in Cincinnati last weekend. They were trying to do the same thing in Atlantic City.
But April Ross, 31, and Kessy, 36 outlasted the youngsters.
April Ross gave her the team the momentum with a block that gave her and Kessy a 13-11 lead in the final game.
With each championships point, Avol had the crowd standing and clapping in a rhythmic fashion. April Ross clinched the championship with a spike.
Ross and Jennings celebrated by spraying champagne into the air.
The future of the Atlantic City event is not yet known. But the players made no secret about wanting to come back.
"Do you want us to come back?" Avol asked the crowd.
The fans roared.
Contact Michael McGarry: