Brandie Wilkerson and Sara Hughes came out firing in their first match against Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes. They owned the first set 21-12, but then Sponcil and Claes woke up and the second was tight; Wilkerson and Hughes froze the score 20-19, but Sponcil and Claes pepped up and pushed three points to win the second. The third set was a battle filled with insane defensive plays from both teams. Sponcil and Claes had a chance to freeze the score, but Wilkerson had a solid net play and got the freeze. She then saved a real point with a block and closed out the match with another. Wilkerson had a career-high 9 blocks. She also had 5 controlled block touches, 15 kills, and 2 aces. Her partner Hughes had 17 kills, 19 digs, and 2 aces. Last week’s finalists next faced fellow Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes.
Emily Day is looking like an Olympic defender in the Champions Cup Series, especially during the Wilson Cup. She and partner Lauren Fendrick took down Kelley Kolinske and Emily Stockman in another early morning 3-set match. The first two sets were great volleyball, but the best plays came in the third. Kolinske and Stockman froze the score 14-12, but Day and Fendrick scored 2 early real points to tie it – one off of a Day dig and the other off of a controlled block from Fendrick, one of her 8. They then continued to push and won 16-14. Day had 16 digs and converted nearly all of them into points; she had 36 kills and hit .522 on 57 attempts.
Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes got back where they belong – in the finals – with their 24-22, 21-19 win over Sara Hughes and Brandie Wilkerson. Pavan and Humana-Paredes got up 17-11 in the first, and then Hughes and Wilkerson closed the gap at 20-20. A few more traded points and then Pavan and Humana-Paredes closed out the first 24-22. The second set was tight all along with all four athletes playing well. Pavan had 18 kills, 2 blocks, and 7 controlled blocks. Humana-Paredes had 16 kills and 25 digs. Despite the loss, Wilkerson hit .615 with 17 kills, put up 2 terminal blocks and 4 controlled, and had an ace.
Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb head to the finals once again with their 2-set victory over big brother Trevor Crabb and Tri Bourne in our second #CrabbBoil of 2020. The first set was all Gibb/Crabb; the second looked like Bourne/Crabb may take it when they got up 18-16, but Gibb/Crabb went on a 5-1 run to win 21-19. They were in full form – Gibb had 17 kills with only 2 errors, 6 terminal blocks, 4 controlled blocks, and 2 aces. Taylor Crabb had 13 digs and an ace.
I thought the match of the day came before the finals. In Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena’s 3-set Semifinal victory against Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner, the DJ booth was going nuts with applause, gasps, and laughter as both teams were on fire. Brunner and Patterson pulled out the first while the second set was all Dalhausser and Lucena and then they froze the score 14-11. But Patterson and Brunner fought back to get within 1 point with an ace down the middle. Lucena and Dalhausser then called a timeout and iced the serve, then had a wonky play that won them the match. Everyone played well, but Lucena was the X-Factor here. He was so dialed in – shots right on the line, debates with the ref that earn him points later, trash talk with Brunner and Patterson that may or may not have gotten in their heads. This match was awesome, and it’s because all four players were having a blast with guys they’ve known and played with for over a decade. Dalhuasser had a well-rounded game with 16 kills and 0 errors, 5 digs, 5 terminal blocks, and 6 controlled blocks. But as I said, Lucena was the fuel that powered the team – his 27 kills and 12 digs only tell half the story. His cheers, claps, and lip were the game-winners.
Your Wilson Cup Champions are April Ross and Alix Klineman who defeated the defending World Champs Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in 2 sets. Humana-Paredes had a lead in the second set, but the A-Team turned it on and defended their title here in Long Beach. Their combined 30 kills, 25 digs, and 4 aces led them to their second Championship in two weekends.
Phil Dalhausser earned his 100th win at the 2020 Wilson Cup alongside partner and best friend Nick Lucena. They took down longtime rivals Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb in 2 sets, 21-9, 21-15. As they have all Champions Cup, Dalhausser and Lucena looked in control and caused their opponents to struggle. Gibb, who had been playing so well all weekend, had 6 kills and 6 errors along with 4 service errors. Phil had a monster game with 5 terminal blocks and 9 controlled blocks, 3 aces, and 9 kills. Lucena had 17 kills (some of which shook the empty stadium with their power) and 15 digs.