Cloudy skies did not stop the Olympic stars and 10 Santa Barbara locals from shining as the Association of Volleyball Professionals swung through West Beach and competed in the 50th annual Santa Barbara Bud Light Open.

UCSB alumnus Todd Rogers and his partner Phil Dalhausser were two of the most talked about players this weekend, as Rogers seized his first hometown title in the men’s division yesterday in two sets over John Hyden and Jeff Nygaard. This year, Rogers ended his streak of four consecutive second-place finishes.

Last year’s champion, Santa Barbara native Dax Holdren, who finished in ninth place this year, said this is Rogers’s 12th career AVP title.

“[Rogers has] been in a couple of the finals and hasn’t won as many as he should, so he’s definitely due for a win,” Holdren said. “I’m definitely rooting for another hometown boy this weekend.”

Along with Rogers’s first win in Santa Barbara, crowds also witnessed a historic match in the women’s division Saturday morning. Olympic gold medallists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh not only won their third consecutive Santa Barbara Open, but also picked up their 50th career victory together. The duo beat fellow Team USA Olympians Rachel Wacholder and Elaine Youngs in two sets to win the weekend tournament, banking $25,000.

“To get 50 wins is great,” Walsh said. “We’ve been playing together for six years now, and every year we try to keep improving on the last one. So really, the goal for us would be to double that number in the future. We just need to keep it up.”

AVP Chief Executive Officer and Tour Commissioner Leonard Armato said last year the attendance turnout was substantial and enthusiastic, and this year’s tournament was just as successful.

“Since the weather’s been kind of gloomy all month, this gives people something fun to get out and do to break up the weather patterns,” Armato said. “This is one of the only opportunities for all volleyball fans in Santa Barbara to come out and watch professional players.”

While attending UCSB, Rogers set a school record with 783 career digs, and ranks second at the school with 246 season digs. He also currently holds the second most all-time assists for the Gauchos with 4,831. Rogers returned to UCSB in 2000 to help coach the men’s volleyball team, but in January, he quit coaching the Gauchos to focus on his beach volleyball career and his family.

“I love those guys at UCSB and I recruited all of them, including the class that’s coming in next year,” Rogers said. “I wish all those guys the best. I’ve seen the program grow and I do miss it a lot. But I made the choice to leave UCSB to be with my family and it’s amazing how much time I have with them now. It’s awesome because when I’m home I actually have time to walk my dogs, play with my kids and go to some of their games.”

After securing the title and her 50th victory, Walsh stayed at West Beach to cheer on her husband, Casey Jennings and his partner Matt Fuerbringer as they played Santa Ynez-native George Roumain and his partner Nick Lucena.

“It’s great to have loved ones on tour with you, so obviously I’m rooting for Casey whenever he’s out here playing,” Walsh said. “I’m just really excited about this particular tournament because it means a lot to me and I have wonderful support here. I love being able to come on tours in California and have my family around. It’s like a breath of fresh air from what I’m normally used to.”

Last year’s champion Holdren, a graduate of San Marcos High School in Goleta and former Santa Barbara City College student, finished second in the overall AVP tour last year with 909 digs, after finishing fifth in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics with partner Stein Metzger.

“The fans in this city are some of the most knowledgeable fans I’ve ever seen,” Holdren said. “Because of the atmosphere, Santa Barbara’s hosted a lot of beach volleyball tournaments and because of that the people here know a lot. This city’s so awesome to come back to.”