Local beach volleyball fans have gotten used to seeing the Crabb brothers go against one another in big matches. That was the case Saturday in the quarterfinals of the first leg of the AVP Champions Cup series in Long Beach.
Unfortunately, there were no fans on hand because of coronavirus restrictions, but the brothers and their partners gave a television audience quite a show.
No. 2-seeded Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb proved just a cut above in this one, winning in straight sets 21-19, 21-18 over sixth-seeded Trevor Crabb and Tri Bourne.
Taylor Crabb and Gibb advanced to Sunday’s semifinals against No. 3-seeded Chase Budinger-Chaim Schalk, while sending Trevor Crabb and Bourne to the contenders bracket, where they stayed alive with a victory over No. 5-seeded Jeremy Casebeer-John Hyden.
Trevor Crabb and Bourne will take on top-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena in the other semifinals match.
Both the men’s and women’s championship matches will be contested Sunday. The men’s will be at 11:30 a.m. and the women’s championship match, slated for a 1:30 p.m. start, is scheduled to be televised by NBC, as well as Amazon.
Gibb had the match-winning kill, not long after taking a kill-shot to the face from Bourne that knocked off his sunglasses.
Taylor Crabb and Gibb are now 4-1 against Trevor Crabb and Bourne.
“Every game’s different, we know each other so well, so it’s a different chess match every time,” Taylor Crabb said afterward on Amazon Prime, which, along with NBC televised the match. “Like you saw out there, we didn’t play our best; we could have scored a lot more in transition.
“But we stayed together and we gutted it out; that’s what that game was all about.”
Up until about a month ago, players didn’t know if there would be an AVP season, what with the regular schedule of events that includes three in Southern California being canceled because of COVID-19.
Gibb, 44, is therefore over the moon to be out there on the make-shift court at the Convention Center.
“Out of our mind excited, dude,” said Gibb, a three-time U.S. Olympian. “When we got the word, we were just like super jacked. We started training just in hopes that it was happening and, yeah, means the world to us. This is what we love to do. We’re begging to do this, so just real happy.”
Taylor Crabb led the winning team with 15 kills and 17 digs and Gibb had 10 kills, five digs and three blocks.
Bourne led his team with 15 kills, 10 digs and two blocks and Trevor Crabb had 13 kills and 10 digs.
The Crabb brothers are out of Honolulu and played indoor at Long Beach State.
Top women’s seed successful
The No. 1-seeded women’s team of April Ross of Costa Mesa and Alix Klineman of Manhattan Beach advanced to the semifinals by defeating fourth-seeded Sara Hughes-Brandie Wilkerson 21-19, 21-17 in the quarterfinals.
After defeating No. 8-seeded Tracie Callahan and Crissy Jones by straight sets in the first round, Ross talked about getting back on court following a long layoff.
“It’s tough,” she said. “We haven’t competed in a long time; our last event was in September. … We’re just trying to get back in our groove, our routine, and so I think there were a couple of hiccups here and there.
“But we got back to the box after the match and I told Alix, I’m like, ‘That started to feel really good toward the end,’ so I think we started to find our true style of play there and just kind of rolled with it.”
The No. 3-seeded team of Kelly Claes (Fullerton) and Sarah Sponcil (Phoenix) upset second-seeded Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, out of Canada, in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals and send Pavan/Humana-Paredes to the contenders bracket.
Scores were 21-18, 21-17.
Klineman-Ross will next play either Humana-Paredes/Pavan or Callahan-Jones, Claes-Sponcil will go against either sixth-seeded Kelley Kolinske-Emily Stockman or Hughes-Wilkerson.