Riding the momentum of a sparkling debut in Huntington Beach, the AVP returns to the Lone Star State for the 2019 Austin Open. From May 17-19, beach volleyball takes over the landscape. The scene is set with the entry list for the second tournament of the season, and the champions of the first event are the headliners.
That’s Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb, who scrambled from the Contender’s bracket in Huntington to capture the first title of the 2019 AVP Tour with a victory over Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson.
The ageless Gibb – OK, he’s 43 – is no stranger in Austin. He won the event in 2004 with Adam Jewell, and even if he has his 31st career AVP title under his belt, he’s not looking back– there’s too much to look forward to.
“It’s so funny, every year I come out here and nobody cares what you’ve done in the past, you have to prove yourself all over again,” Gibb said. “I want it to be like in the NBA where you get the Kobe [Bryant] contract after you’ve done something for five years. Every year you have to prove yourself and I’m getting a little emotional, but it’s big for us.”
They have their work cut out for them with the prospect of another rematch with Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. The teams met in a rather unusual setting in Huntington Beach: an elimination match on Saturday.
It turned into an epic for-the-ages battle. After splitting the first two sets, Gibb and Crabb had a 14-9 lead in the third set, one point from advancing. Dalhausser and Lucena, the Olympians and defending champs in Austin, fought back to not only tie it up, but at one point held a match point.
Rally after rally, with both Lucena and Crabb coming up with 20 digs, the third set alone took 31 minutes before Gibb and Crabb prevailed, 17-15.
For Austin, there will be some interesting subplots. With the blessing of the AVP, several teams will be missing as they chase their Olympic dreams in Itapema, Brazil.
Still, there are those who chase international glory but will still be in Texas. That includes Emily Day and Betsi Flint, who reached the semifinals last week and lost in heartbreaking fashion.
On the jet-lag schedule, two women’s teams will compete on the NORCECA circuit in Cuba before arriving in Austin. Caitlyn Ledoux and Geena Urango (pictured left) plus Falyn Fonoimoana and Nicolette Martin are battling for international recognition.
Another team returning from overseas is Amanda Dowdy and Corinne Quiggle, who won five of seven matches in Malaysia last weekend. One more threat is Kelly Reeves and Brittany Howard (the 2018 AVP Rookie of the Year).
On the men’s side, Eric Zaun and Ian Satterfield are battling together in Cuba, then they will return to the USA to potentially face each other. Zaun will be with Avery Drost (they finished in ninth place in Huntington) and Satterfield will rejoin Mark Burik (that duo also tied for ninth).
We will also discover if the team of Troy Field and Tim Bomgren can continue their progress. The new team reached the semifinals in Huntington, which was the first time Field finished as high as third place. Bomgren has reached AVP finals twice in his career, including last year in Austin with Taylor Crabb.
The field is as wide open as the state of Texas. Don’t forget you can catch all of the action LIVE on Amazon Prime Video!