Top seeds walk into AVP Long Beach semifinals – World champs struggle
It was a rather relaxed Saturday for the top-seeded men’s teams in Long Beach. In the first event of the AVP Champions Cup Series, 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and his partner Nick Lucena posted two straight wins to advance to the semifinal. The number-1 seeds took down Ed Ratledge / Skylar DelSol and Theo Brunner / Casey Patterson to secure another semifinal where they will face Tri Bourne /Trevor Crabb who eliminated volleyball veteran John Hyden with his new partner Jeremy Casebeer. A similarly strong performance was put on the sand by second-seeded Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb. The best US team in 2019 defeated Billy Allen / Stafford Slick in straight sets. In a brothers’ duel they also beat Tri Bourne and Taylor’s brother Trevor Crabb (21:19, 21:18). In the semifinal they will go up against the just recently formed team of ex-NBA player Chase Budinger and ex-Canadian Chaim Schalk. Budinger and Schalk are aiming to represent the USA in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
On the women’s side, the A-Team of April Ross and Alix Klineman walked into the semis with two straight wins over Callahan / Jones and the US-Canadian liaison of Sara Hughes and beach volleyball gypsy Brandie Wilkerson. The other seminfinal spot was secured by Sarah Sponcil and Kelley Claes who upset Canadian world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes (21:18, 21:17). Matches will resume on Sunday morning with the reigning world champs playing Callahan / Jones and Kolinske / Stockman going up against Hughes / Wilkerson for the remaining spots in the semifinals.
The first event day of the AVP 2020 season didn’t see major upsets but sixteen teams that were fired up and in good shape. The event that takes place without audience and strict hygiene measures is the initial one of a three event series that will be played in the next two weeks. The top six teams for each gender that make it out of Sunday will directly go into the main draw of the second event taking place in one week’s time, again in Long Beach. All Sunday action will be livestreamed on Amazon Prime Video.