The 2018 AVP Austin Open kicked off this past weekend at the Lone Star state of Texas — returning for its second consecutive year on the Pro Tour. With last year’s defending champions April Ross, Phil Dalhausser, and Nick Lucena returning to Krieg’s Field, this year’s tournament was destined to be a tough one for both veterans and newcomers in the sport.
The Qualifiers on Thursday consisted of over 100 matches (60 men’s matches and 49 women’s matches), where delighted Austin fans gathered and cheered in numbers until the rounds ended at 10pm CT. It was evident right from the start that the energy in Austin was absolutely magnetic and captivating! Through the tough battles of the Qualifiers, only 4 teams per gender came out victorious to advance to Friday’s Main Draw event:
- Maddison McKibbin / Riley McKibbin
- Troy Field / David Vander Meer
- Travis Mewhirter / Raffe Paulis
- Bruno Amorim / Chris Luers
- Sarah Day / Nicolette Martin
- Janelle Ruen Allen / Kerri Schuh
- Priscilla Eckstein Lese Piantadosi-Lima / Jessica Sykora
- Falyn Fonoimoana / Alexa Strange
During the first round of Friday’s Main Draw, some top-seeded teams felt the heat against newly-formed duos as No. 7 ranked Lauren Fendrick & Sarah Sponcil defeated No. 2 ranked team Caitlin Ledoux & Kendra VanZwieten and No. 7 ranked Reid Priddy & Jeremy Casebeer battled No. 2 ranked Theo Brunner & John Hyden to come out with a win in three hard-fought sets. Additionally, AVP’s partnership with Amazon Prime Video launched Friday morning, which debuted AVP’s new livestream experience for fans across the globe. Along with tournament play on Prime Video, we introduced our three broadcast hosts for the season (Kevin Barnett, Kelli Tennant, and Camryn Irwin) who offered pre and post-game commentary, analysis and in-studio & on-court interviews with the AVP athletes. This new experience with Prime Video gives beach volleyball fans access like they have never had before and exposes the sport of beach volleyball to Amazon’s 100 million Prime members.
Saturday continued to prove that the new partnerships of 2018 were forged for wins as spectators witnessed new team dynamics and chemistry throughout the day. Taylor Crabb and Tim Bomgren, after just one practice together (because steady partner Jake Gibb broke his toe during practice), battled it out against big brother Trevor Crabb and partner John Mayer, defeating them in a tight 22-20, 21-18 showdown and entered the Semifinals to face off against Casebeer/Priddy. On the women’s side, Fendrick/Sponcil continued to trek along the Winner’s brackets as they defeated No. 14 Janelle Allen & Kerri Schuh to meet No. 9 Karissa Cook & Katie Spieler in the Sunday Semifinals — another new duo that made their debut both as players and as a team at the Austin Open. Top-seeded teams Alix Klineman & April Ross and Phil Dalhausser & Nick Lucena punched their tickets into the Semifinals as well, returning to Championship Sunday to defend their spot as last year’s winners.
Sunday attracted electrifying crowds who braved it out through the rain and lightning delays to watch the culmination of three days worth of intense battles for the title and prize money. There were heated matches right from the start as Bomgren/Crabb locked in their spot in the Finals where they faced off against Dalhausser/Lucena in hopes to dethrone them and claim their spot as champions. However, that didn’t appear to be the case on Stadium Court. Dalhausser/Lucena brought home the win and became back-to-back champions when they took down Bomgren/Crabb in an aggressive 21-14, 21-14 match.
The fan-favorite match of the day came from the Women’s Finals, where Klineman/Ross defeated Fendrick/Sponcil 24-22, 25-23 in an incredibly passionate matchup. While Klineman celebrates her first-ever AVP title and Ross her 30th, 21-year-old Sarah Sponcil became the third person in AVP history to land a spot in the Finals in their first-ever AVP Main Draw.
Everything is bigger in Texas and it is without a doubt that the Austin fans brought immense energy throughout the entirety of the tournament. Austin fans proved to be some of the most dedicated fans in the nation and we are already counting down the days until we’re back in Texas in 2019. Next up on the 2018 Pro Tour is the AVP Gold Series: New York City Open June 7th – 10th. We hope to see you at the Big Apple!