This past weekend, the nation’s best beach volleyball talent competed against the iconic landscape of the Big Apple for the AVP Gold Series // New York City Open. With the tour heading into its first Gold Series event, the athletes and fans were eager to travel to the Empire City, as everything was bigger and better. From increased prize money and increased AVP points for the athletes, to an incredible elevated fan experience, the weekend brought beach volleyball to the next level.

In Thursday’s Qualification Rounds, a record 85 teams competed, with the women’s matches taking place in the outer courts at Brooklyn Bridge Park to accommodate the city’s demand.

Friday began with two of the world’s greatest blockers on Stadium Court – Phil Dalhausser and Ricardo Santos. The four-time Olympian, three-time medalist and Brazilian beach volleyball legend- Santos, with partner Chaim Schalk (2016 Canadian Olympian) advanced from the Qualifiers and provided the upset of the year, securing a win over Dalhausser and Nick Lucena to a standing ovation from the crowd, sending the undefeated AVP team to unfamiliar territory in the Contender’s Bracket.

Saturday’s play was greeted with bright, sunny skies at Hudson River Park Piers 26/25. Kayakers and the Freedom Tower graced the unique city background as the tournament as the fans filled the stands, thundersticks in hand, arriving early and cheering throughout Saturday’s play.

The women’s No. 2 team of April Ross and Lauren Fendrick advanced to the Semi-Finals after winning two matches on Friday and then their Saturday match against No. 3 Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman. No. 5 team Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross delivered two solid matches to defeat No. 1 ranked Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar in two sets.

It was a Gold Series level battle as the No. 16 ranked Men’s team of Chaim Schalk and Ricardo Santos were defeated by No. 4 team Trevor Crabb and Sean Rosenthal after a serious, close match. However, in one of the last matches of the day, Santos and Schalk regained control in the Contender’s Bracket, eliminating a visibly disappointed Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner in three sets. Exuberant crowds applauded the fan favorite Ricardo Santos’ achievement with a standing ovation, as he bowed and waved his hat in appreciation of his fans. This event not only marked Chaim Schalk’s first-ever Main Draw in his AVP career, but he also successfully fought his way into the Semi-Finals.

The AVP Gold Series // New York City Open concluded four days of high-level, intense competition on Sunday. The FDNY and NYPD docked their boats next to the action on the Hudson Piers for the best seat in the house. Under the blazing sun, the energy from Stadium Court remained high, as the final teams battled for the title and increased prize money in front of a crowded venue of enthusiastic fans ringing cowbells, doing the wave and dancing to the “Monster Block.”

Coming up through the Qualifiers and playing their ninth match of the weekend, No. 16 Schalk and Ricardo advanced to their first-ever AVP tournament Semi-Finals, against No. 2 Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb. Ultimately, they fell to opponents Crabb and Gibb in two sets. Rising through the Contender’s Bracket, a relentless No. 6 team of Billy Allen and Stafford Slick took on No. 4 Trevor Crabb and Sean Rosenthal to win in two sets, preventing a brotherly battle in the Finals of Trevor Crabb vs Taylor Crabb.

On the women’s side, the No. 5 ranked team of Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat, playing in their first AVP event of the season, fought against a prepared No. 3 partnership of Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman, but eventually defeated them. Then, in a three set, heated match, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick overtook a fearsome No. 1 ranked Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar. However, in Set 3 of their victory, Ross encountered a dislocated toe that caused a medical timeout and a questionable future for their team.

Overcoming the pain and her dislocated toe, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick faced new AVP partners Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat in the Women’s Final. On the men’s side of the tournament, Slick (his first-ever AVP final) and Allen faced Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb on live television on NBC.

Ultimately, the day belonged to 27-time AVP champion and three-time Olympian Jake Gibb and first-time AVP champion Trevor Crabb on the men’s side, and 29-time AVP champion and two-time Olympic medalist April Ross with partner four-time AVP champion and Olympian Lauren Fendrick on the women’s side.

The next stop for the tour is in the beautiful state of Washington for the AVP Seattle Open June 22-25. We can’t wait to see you there!