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Pro beach volleyball is coming back to Austin

After a 12-year absence, professional beach volleyball is coming back to Austin.

The Association of Volleyball Professionals announced its 2017 schedule Wednesday, which included a stop in Austin. The event is set for May 18-21 at Krieg Fields in South Austin. It’s one of eight stops the tour will be making in its season that goes from May to Labor Day weekend. Aside from Austin, the tour also is returning to Hermosa Beach, Calif.

“We are thrilled to bring beach volleyball back to these major metropolitan cities, including our return to Hermosa Beach and Austin,” said Donald Sun, managing partner of AVP, in a statement to the media. “No matter if you’re the casual beach enthusiast or a volleyball fanatic, our goal is to put on the ultimate beach experience, whether you’re witnessing some of the best athletes on the sand in compelling competition or soaking up the festival area — this is not your average day at the beach. We are looking forward to this season and seeing which veterans have more to prove and who of the up-and-comers will emerge into full success.”

Beach volleyball has been a popular draw in person and on television for the Olympics since it was included as a medal sport in 1996. Before the Olympics last year in Rio, Mindshare polled more than 1,000 adults as to what sports they planned to catch on TV. Nearly three quarters of the group named volleyball.

The AVP started in 1983. It last appeared in Austin in 2005.

It’s been a platform for some of the game’s biggest stars.

Some of the biggest names playing now include Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser. Austin resident Amanda Dowdy, who starred for Texas Tech, is one of the players on the women’s tour. So is former TCU standout Irene Pollock.

The local tournaments also feature an interactive sponsor village, food and an AVP wine and beer garden. General admission is free.

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