AVP | June 12, 2018
The 2018 AVP Gold Series // New York City Open arrived to the Big Apple this past weekend as the nation’s best beach volleyball talent competed along one of the most iconic skylines of America. This stop of the 2018 Pro Tour brought beach volleyball to the next level as the AVP welcomed the first of three ‘Gold Series’ — an elevated tournament experience for fans with increased prize money and AVP points for the athletes. Attendees were eager to travel to the concrete jungle June 7-10 for a glimpse of the unforgettable weekend that was about to unfold.
Thursday’s Qualifiers started off on a jaw-dropping note when the world’s #1 ranked women’s team, Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, got knocked out of the Qualifiers by the #9 seed in the qualifying brackets, Delaney Knudsen and Jessica Sykora. They saw the win in a three-set battle (18-21, 22-20, 15-12) and headed to the well-deserved Main Draw bracket. On the men’s side, things were in order as #1 Loomis/Marciniak, #2 McKibbin brothers, and #4 Burik/Satterfield advanced to the Main Draw. The final spot into the Main Draw was filled by #6 Friend/Muagututia, who upset #3 Samuels/Vaught in their last match on Thursday.
On Friday, 2018 Austin Open champions Phil Dalhausser & Nick Lucena and Alix Klineman & April Ross made quick work of their matches to advance to Saturday’s Winner Bracket. Newly formed women’s teams #1 Sara Hughes & Summer Ross and #2 Kelly Claes & Brittany Hochevar took reign as well and stepped into Saturday’s Main Draw for the first time in an AVP tournament since their partnerships formed.
Saturday welcomed sunny weather and great crowds as people flocked to Hudson River Park’s Pier 25/26 on foot, kayaks and even boats to witness the action. Klineman/Ross faced off against Claes/Hochevar in the morning where the defending 2017 Gold Series NYC champion, April Ross, saw her victory in a two-set battle (21-16, 21-19). Energetic crowds packed the stands as the day progressed into the Dalhausser/Lucena match with Billy Allen and New Jersey native Ryan Doherty. Constant cheers and cowbells were heard from every moment of the tight three-set matchup before Dalhausser/Lucena cemented their spot for Championship Sunday. After breaking his toe and missing out on this season’s Austin Open, Jake Gibb saw redemption and claimed a spot on Sunday as well when him and partner Taylor Crabb knocked out the #2 seed Theo Brunner & John Hyden.
Championship Sunday called for cool skies and immediate action on Stadium Court. The light rain didn’t deter fans from the stands as folks gathered around for the conclusion of the 2018 AVP Gold Series // New York City Open. From start to finish, the tension was high as athletes battled it out for the $200,000 purse and increased AVP points. Hughes/Ross put their chemistry and synergy to work to defeat Hughes’ former partner Claes and her teammate Hochevar in the semifinals. Nicole Branagh and teammate Brandie Wilkerson upsetted “A team” Klineman/Ross in a nail-biting three-set matchup in order or advance to the finals.
Gibb/Crabb returned to the NYC Open finals once again to face off against Dalhausser/Lucena. However, last year’s NYC champs were no match for Dalhausser’s ‘Monster Blocks’ and Lucena’s insanely scrappy plays. It lead to their two-set win (21-16, 21-17) with fans asking for more. After the action-packed men’s finals, the women took the stage with live coverage from NBC. Hughes/Ross proved to the fans that they were the #1 seed for a reason. The crowd was the most vocal for this match as the young and powerful team took down Branagh/Wilkerson with a flawless ace in the second set for the win (21-14, 21-19). No team was able to take Hughes/Ross to a third set this tournament. Although the Sunday finals were filled with seriousness and aggression, all teams walked off Stadium Court with a smile on their faces and their hearts with New York City.
The trajectory of this year’s tour has set off to a promising start as we head to the state of Washington for our next stop for the 2018 AVP Seattle Open on June 21st-24th. We can’t wait to see what the excitement brings there!