As we continue into our second month of quarantine, we’re also continuing to highlight the Best Matches of 2019. Both of these matches and so many more are available on Amazon Prime Video — just type in AVP and enjoy.
I recommend you start with these bad boys from the boys:
Gibb/Crabb vs. Dalhausser/Lucena, Fifth-Place Match Huntington 2019
First serve: 2:20:00
Favorite Point: 3:19:45
Somehow these two powerhouse teams had their first 2019 battle on Saturday evening. Phil and Nick lost in two to the new team of Chase and Casey earlier in the day, while Jake and Taylor lost to the unexpected power duo of Trevor and Tri that afternoon (getting the Crabb brotherly rivalry started early in the season).
The Gibb/Crabb vs. Dalhausser/Lucena rivalry was also in full swing. Their previous three matchups had been in three 2018 finals. Phil and Nick won both of the Gold Series finals in New York and the coveted MBO final (which is also a sick three-set battle worth revisiting). Jake and Taylor, though they won in Seattle 2018, were down in the count and out for revenge. Not to mention Taylor had lost to his big brother hours before.
I watched this match from the DJ Booth. We’d “ooooo” and “ahhhhh” after nearly every point in the freeze as one unit – Mark, DJ Rouche, Producer Kelly, and the crowd of people that weaseled their way up there (including me) for the best seat in the house. And this match was just one of many tight, ridiculously fun matches that Saturday. The game after on Stadium Court between two brand new teams — Casebeer/Schalk vs. Bomgren/Field — was a come-from-behind thriller that went 20-18 in the third. There was also a simultaneous three-set, highly controversial match (where Hughes/Ross bested Larsen/Stockman 16-14 in the third) happening on Court 2.
The entire 30-minute third set (a point-for-point beauty of a game starting at 2:59:40) was incredibly fun to revisit. Full disclosure: I watched this first thing in the morning in my pink fuzzy robe. My cheering (out loud in my living room at 8am; sorry, neighbors) and racing heart made me start to sweat so much that I de-robe and change into something other than pajamas (for maybe the third time this whole quarantine). The match is that fun.
Not only is the volleyball Olympic level, but also the atmosphere is lit. There were 10+ stare downs throughout just the third set. Even the way the match ends is draaaamaaaa (thanks to Donald Sun for instating the freeze). But the best moment is Nick’s finger wag directed at Taylor. Normally, Nick is even-keeled and unexpressive. But not during this barn burner. Also, Jake’s supremely sassy response to an AVP reporter between sets two and three is The Office-level cringeworthy. A must-watch.
Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb vs. Johnny Hyden/Theo Brunner, Hawaii Final (the last match of the 2019 season)
First serve – 1:25:50
Controversial call – 2:05:29
Favorite point: 2:39:18
Johnny Hyden and Theo Brunner have both won multiple AVPs, but due to missed tournaments and weighted Gold Series points, they found themselves in the Waikiki Qualifier. They made it through without a problem, but they did not have a smooth road to the finals.
In their first match of the Main Draw on Friday, they lost a second set up 20-14 in the freeze to Bomgren and Field. They then lost the match 15-8 in the third to put them into the contender’s bracket. In the last match of Saturday, Johnny and Theo beat the #1 seed, Phil and Nick, in a three-set battle (18-16 in the third). They ended Saturday on a high primed for a Sunday of history-making. If they won the tournament, they’d be the first-ever team to come through the qualifier and win a title. Not to mention, 46-year-old Hyden would break his own record as the oldest player to win an AVP. But the 2019 Team of the Year – Jake and Taylor – stood in their way.
I don’t want to give away what happens, though I bet you already know. The full match is an hour-and-eighteen-minute doozy, so if you’re short on time (which I don’t imagine anyway is right now), I recommend starting at the controversial call at 2:05:29. Or rather, maybe a few minutes before that so you can see how in control Johnny and Theo are. Then there’s the call which gives Johnny and Theo Championship point at 20-15. Though the refs went their way, I actually think Jake and Taylor were so fired up from their indignation that they flipped a switch and went full #beachmode. I also think Johnny and Theo knew they got away with a wonky play.
Here’s the timeline:
- Controversial call.
- Jake sides out.
- Theo hits in the net.
- Johnny hits out.
- Johnny and Theo call a timeout.
I watched this one sitting next to DJ Roueche. During this time out, I bet him that Jake and Taylor would win the set. But he was too smart to take it. There was a palpable momentum shift. They won seven unanswered reals from a mixture of errors, aces, blocks, and rallies to push to a third. If you don’t know what happens next — go watch. And don’t read my last paragraph.
I have to say, though it would have been sick to see the first-ever qualifying team to win a tournament (and I’m a Johnny Hyden fan), Hawaii was electric after local boy Taylor Crabb pulled off a miracle. I’ll also never forget floating in the ocean with Jake Gibb and a slew of AVP staff on pineapple inflatables after his fourth and final 2019 AVP title. Epic way for all of us to end the season.
Follow Kim on Instagram @kimesmith21.
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