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AVP Fort Lauderdale Recap: Three for Three on Guarantees and the 8-Seed Stunners

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Fort Lauderdale brought the heat in every way, from triple-digit temps to literally blistering sand to a few heated post-game “discussions.” Florida is one big party, and this was surely one of the prettiest stops on the AVP Tour. But I just can’t get over one specific thing from the weekend. Trevor Crabb freaking did it again.

Can you believe it? Three guarantees and three resulting wins. The gall it takes is beyond me, beyond most people, but Trevor Crabb is not lacking in gall. He brings that evil-genius villain energy that we need on the AVP Tour. I absolutely love to see it.

Trevor and Tri Bourne’s energy coming into this weekend absolutely felt different. They were literally unstoppable, beating every opponent in straight sets on their way to victory. Not only that, but they seemed to improve along the way. Their biggest win was against the top-seeded team in the Final. The decisive 21-14 second set against Hermosa Beach Champs Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk sent a resounding message – Tri and Trevor are back at the top of their game.

Trevor only had two hitting errors in his first two matches – that’s wild. Funny enough, the other weekend stats don’t tell the story clearly. Tri and Trevor were in the middle of the pack for aces, blocks, and kills. But honestly, that tells a story to me. No one could figure them out. They served both players; Tri and Trevor were both getting blocks and digs on their opponents, splitting time at the net, constantly throwing their opponents off. Their game was the best I’ve seen it all year. Plus – the only stats that matter are wins, and all Tri and Trevor did was win.

In their winning interview, Trevor doubled down on his boldness by saying, “Honestly, before the tournament started, it was already over.” The crowd reacted immediately, gasping in unison. I heard a couple of cheers, a couple of boos, and everything in between. “And I’ll be doing it next well as well in Atlanta. You can bet you a** on that. And we’re not gonna lose a set again either.” Another guarantee. Shots fired.

Tri backed his partner valiantly, saying, “My guy tells me what to do, and I go do it! You gotta have your guy’s back.” And then, in one of my favorite interview statements of the year, Tri said, “I don’t know what we’re gonna do tonight, ‘cuz last night we already had the celebration.” Two nights of celebration in a row; will it be two tournament wins in a row?

One repeat winning team we won’t be seeing is Tina Graudina and Hailey Harward, the impressive first-time Champs on the Ladies’ side. If you missed their play, I highly recommend catching up on YouTube. This AVCA Team of the Year is insanely fun to watch.

Though it was technically their first AVP tournament together, Tina and Hailey have played their last 37 matches together, mostly as the #1 team at USC. They have won the last 35 matches, including the National Championship duel.

Tina is a world-stage player, having booked her ticket to the Olympics in late 2019 and then securing 4th place in the Games. She’s pretty new to the AVP, but according to her winning interview – she loves it here and is ready to return in Chicago.

Hailey has bounced around the AVP with different partners for a few years. This year alone, she’ll play with four athletes in the first five Pro or Gold Series stops. She’s partnered with Emily Day, Falyn Fanoimoana, Tina Graudina, and next week in Fort Lauderdale, she’ll play with another Olympian in Lauren Fendrick.

One of Hailey’s partners over the years? Julia Scoles. Not just that, the two played together for a bit at USC. Oh, and they’re best friends. Oh, and they live together. Where is that trophy going to live in their house?

Thankfully, the two are great sports. During their Finals warmup, Announcer Mark Schuermann tried to stir the pot and turn them on each other a bit (all in good fun). All the two girls did was throw hand hearts and blow kisses to each other from across the net. A few weeks ago in Hermosa, during Julia’s Championship Sunday matches, Hailey (who had played and lost on Saturday) stood on the sidelines and cheered like crazy for her best friend. That’s not easy to root for someone who’s doing what you so badly want to be doing. It’s all love.

Speaking of Julia… she and partner Geena Urango are one of the hottest teams on the AVP. They’re riding a third and a second place at the last two Pro Series stops, plus they got a 2nd at the Muskegon Tour Series and 3rd in Denver Tour Series. They know how to win.

Geena is no stranger to the AVP Finals. This was her sixth, but victory eludes her. Droughts aren’t uncommon. Sarah Sponcil ended hers in Hermosa Beach after being 0-4 in AVP finals. April Ross lost her first nine AVP title matches before finally winning in May 2009. Unfortunately, Geena’s drought continues. But she’s more poised than ever to get that W here very soon.

Julia and Geena made a habit of winning the first set, losing the second set, and then winning the third big time. Not sure if they were using the wind or expertly wearing their teammates out, but those third sets were clinical. They took out Kloth/Nuss 15-4 in the Quarterfinal match. Just let that sink in.

Unfortunately, the same thing happened against them in the Final. To be fair, Julia showed signs of heat exhaustion and sickness. The buoyant, powerful game she’d shown all weekend was greatly affected by six three-set matches in a row. Geena tried all she could to pick up the slack, but the other side of the net was not letting down.

Tina and Hailey’s chemistry is palpable. They move in tandem, communicating brilliantly both verbally and seemingly telepathically. Their play is a work of art. I also love the way Hailey celebrates – it’s just this unfiltered, raw energy. Hoping to see more of them in the future.

As I said – the Fort Lauderdale Women’s Champs will not be gracing our Atlantic Station beach (the sands of which were delivered during the Fort Lauderdale Finals by 26 dump trucks). Tina is heading back to Latvia, and Hailey will pair up with Lauren Fendrick for the Gold Series.

But everyone else will be there. Will Tri and Trevor make good on their guarantee? Will Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss go back-to-back Atlanta Championships and win where they first won? There are so many storylines I can’t wait to see play out. Stay tuned for a Gold Series preview, Champs explanation, and more coming soon!

 

Category: AVP News, Current Season, Events, Pro

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