One hour after this year's Charlie Saikley Six-Man tournament, the only signs that 30,000-plus people had attended the event were the crew members loading volleyball equipment into idling 18-wheel trucks.
The beaches were nearly spotless, practically free of debris and trash. The significance of this scene pointed to the positive changes enacted by the Manhattan Beach City Council to help tone down the event while still preserving its roots.
Even though thousands of volleyball enthusiasts enjoyed a weekend full of gripping matches and entertainment, the play turned into work for police who made sure drinking was closely monitored.
The Manhattan Beach Police Department reported more arrests during this year's event, compared to last year. But these incidents were not at the site of the tournament - they occurred in downtown Manhattan Beach and at homes along The Strand.
The raucous, anything-goes partying of the past was not tolerated at the courts, which put the sport of volleyball where it rightfully belongs as the spotlight of the tournament.
And despite the increase in arrests, the heart of the event still beat strong, as evidenced by the world-class matchups that took place.
Sunday's final had one of the best games I've ever witnessed, in any sport. Down by seven points in a game to 15, Team Magnum somehow reached down deep and put together a 7-0 run only to find itself on the brink of defeat, again, at match point 14-12.
But they reeled off four consecutive points to capture their third consecutive title.
The excitement didn't end there — on the women's side, a team of retired AVP pros banded together to all but shut down two-time Olympic gold-medalist Kerri Walsh in not one, but two games.
For the sake of full disclosure this was only my second six-man. But what a difference a year makes.
As I watched the men's finals I chatted with some other fans standing next to me. I was struck by how knowledgable many of them were, as they told me about the athlete's on the court and the tournament's rich history.
This didn't happen last year with the large number of people coming onto the sand simply because they wanted to get drunk, it seems. I found it to be nearly impossible to watch the vast majority of matches simply due to the sheer volume of people on the beach.
But this year, the Manhattan Beach City Council's decision to heavily enforce restrictions on alcohol consumption on the beach made a serious impact on the number of people partying during the weekend games.
Last year I walked onto the sand with a large group of people and we were never given a second look. This year, crew members working the entrances to the event were extremely stringent with their searches of bags and enforcing the unsealed container rule.
I have no doubt that the $600 fine for any person caught with alcohol also deterred drinking.
The conversations surrounding alcohol consumption at this sporting event paralleled many discussions the neighboring Hermosa Beach City Council has had concerning alcohol at the Ironman, AVP, summer sunset concert series. The list goes on.
But as Hermosa Beach continues to plan tougher enforcement, in the case with the six-man, Manhattan Beach got it right.
I had a conversation with tournament director J. Parker Saikley whose father started the event in 1957. Saikley felt this year's tournament to be almost a 180-degree turn from what he saw last year.
"There was a big difference between this year and last year," Saikley said. "I saw very little, if any, drinking at all on the beach this time around."
Saikley added that the volleyball was center stage this year as event attendees did their drinking elsewhere.
"The parties were in the houses, the walk-streets and in the bars, which is where they should be. What we got to see this year from the players was better focus and better competition. With the partying mostly out of the picture, the players were able to be more in-tune with what they were here to do, which is to play great volleyball."
If you read my recent experiences at the Ironman Tournament, you already know that I, too, am guilty of enjoying the parties that accompany summer beach events in the South Bay — hey, I'm not ashamed to admit that I love to have a good time.
But I'm also a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the talent that accompanies athletic competition, and the respect it deserves. Such athletic splendor was alive at this year's six-man tournament.
And, the total amount of prize money for the winning teams? Zero. Athletes played their hearts out for the love of the game.
I think this is what Charles Saikley had in mind when he created this tournament — not the booze and parties. It's the volleyball and the sportsmanship that made this event special, and will continue to do so.