A year ago, on the shore of Lake Sammamish State Park, Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb were seeded third in the AVP Seattle Open.
All they did was run the table to capture the title. Today, they’re the top seeds and looking for their third victory in four events on the 2019 tour.
They’d like to do it a little differently though. In their last three AVP tournament victories, they’ve captured the championship the hard way, having to recover from a loss before claiming the Sunday trophy.
The last time they went unscathed to capture a tournament title? Seattle 2018.
They’re battling against a reshaped field, with New York City victors Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena already in Europe preparing for the FIVB World Championships.
On the women’s side, with April Ross and Alix Klineman – victors in the two AVP tournaments they’ve entered in 2019 – also in Hamburg, Germany, we’ll see a different top-seeded team. This time it’s Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, who reached the final in New York City before falling to Ross and Klineman.
Perhaps they’re not underrated, but they might be overlooked: Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman are beginning to make their move. After finishing third in New York, they went to Warsaw and reached the final of an international 4-star event before falling to Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy. Along the way, they defeated teams with five different 2016 Olympians.
You also can’t count out the presence of Emily Day and Betsi Flint, who just happen to be the reigning Seattle champs. Or the victors from Austin, Jace Pardon and Karissa Cook.
In other news, there’s been a partnership change. After taking a third-place finish in Austin, Nicolette Martin and Falyn Fonoimoana have gone their separate ways. Martin is now with her former college teammate at USC, Allie Wheeler.
We also have a wild card in the bunch, literally. Piper Monk-Heidrich and Abby Van Winkle earned their way into the main draw with a wild-card entry. The pair of 19-year-olds will challenge the veterans in the double-elimination event. It will be their second AVP tournament together.
On the men’s side, Chaim Schalk and Jeremy Casebeer, who reached the finals in Austin, are seeded third, just ahead of Huntington Beach finalists Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger.
But with an injury to Theo Brunner, Reid Priddy has picked up 33-year-old, Bobby Jacobs for this event.
And is this the week for second-seeded Tim Bomgren and Troy Field to not only make it to Sunday, but emerge from it with a championship? They’ve finished third, third and second in their first season together and are a threat to anyone in the field.
Because the AVP has aligned its schedule to conform with the international obligations of many of the players, Seattle is pretty much the All-Star break of the season. Play won’t resume on the AVP Tour until July 26, when it returns to Hermosa Beach in Southern California.