It’s finally here, the big one, the Granddaddy, the Manhattan Beach Open.
The MBO just hits different. Whether it’s the big stands on SoCal beaches, the fact that the Stadium is miles away from nearly half of the athletes’ homes, or the 32-team draw, I just get a little more excited for the MBO.
The Men’s side is stacked, with only Andy Benesh and Miles Partain overseas at an international event. Trevor Crabb is looking to defend his three-time running MBO Championship title. But former partner Tri Bourne is looking to match Trevor’s three-peat with an MBO win of his own. Trevor won in 2019 with Reid Priddy, then in 2021 and 2022 with Bourne (the MBO wasn’t played in 2020).
Neither of their current partners has their name on the Pier, though they tried their hardest last year. Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk played Bourne/Crabb in the 2022 MBO Final but fell to them in straight sets. Now the two teams split and reformed and come into MBO as the one and two seeds; all four athletes have their eyes on the prize – the Pier.
Behind them, Trevor’s little brother Taylor is ready for his crystallization into beach volleyball history. Though Taylor has more AVP Titles than Trevor, he has yet to win an MBO. He and Taylor Sander started the year strong with a win in Miami Beach; since then, they’ve stayed in the Top 5 but haven’t been able to pull off another title.
Miles Evans and Chase Budinger enter the stage off a hot performance in Atlanta. Their 6-hour-long final (complete with two lightning delays) against Benesh/Partain delivered a stinging loss, so they’re coming into MBO more motivated than ever to get their first AVP title as a team (and Evans’ first-ever Pro/Gold Series victory).
In true MBO fashion, we have legends of the game both in attendance and on the court. Phil Dalhausser, Alison, and John Hyden will all play with the same partners we saw in Atlanta. And with 32 teams total, the Main Draw list goes deep, not to mention the Thursday Qualifier. This bracket was built for upsets; we can’t wait to see it all go down.
Kelley Kolinske comes in as the only defending MBO champ on the Women’s side. A handful of top Women’s teams will be overseas (including 2022 winner Sara Hughes), opening the field to players from all over the country. With four bids coming from the Waupaca Tour Series, and athletes from Seattle, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, and everywhere in between – the MBO field covers almost the entire nation.
Julia Scoles and Betsi Flint are the 1-seed by far, and they’re fresh off a silver medal in Montreal. Their team improves every time we see them; with icon April Ross as their coach, you can expect them to maintain an upward trajectory. Hermosa winners Sarah Schermerhorn and Corinne Quiggle come in hungry to claim another victory. Megan Kraft and Emily Stockman look to make the semis after a fifth and two seventh places in their first AVP showings.
Molly Turner and Maddie Anderson will play their third AVP together; their fifth- and third-place finishes in the first two SoCal events impressed us all. Larissa and Lili, who earned a hard-fought semifinals appearance in 2021, are coming off of two disappointing 13-place finishes in Hermosa and Atlanta. They’re living legends of our sport, so you better believe they’re more motivated than ever to get back on the podium.
And this is just the top of the Main Draw!
The rest of the bracket is stacked with new talent and AVP staples. Thursday’s Qualifier will be lit, bursting with names ready to be made household. A 75-team cap plus the 32-team draw makes Manhattan Beach the biggest tournament on our schedule by far. Basically, everyone will be in Manhattan, grinding through the summer heat to get their name on the Pier. Will you?
The MBO is a legendary event for a reason. Hundreds of athletes converge in the epicenter of our sport, hopeful for immortalization in beach volleyball history. The stakes could not be higher, and in our 40th year, there’s more to be excited about than ever. New activations and sponsors, old legends in attendance, and double-digit courts of your favorite sport on the grandest stage. Will Trevor Crabb continue to make history? Will we get all new winners or some familiar names on the Pier? We’ll all just have to find out soon.
If you’re one of the unlucky readers who can’t be there, catch everything on ESPN+ and Bally Live. Then catch the Women’s and Men’s finals on Sunday, August 20, at 1 pm PDT / 4 pm EDT on ESPN2.
But really, if you can be there, be there. Trust me; you won’t regret it.