COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 21, 2023) – Two major events on different sides of the beach volleyball landscape highlighted the last week.
First, U.S. Beach National Team athletes Trevor Crabb, Tri Bourne and Kelley Kolinske were honored for victories at the 2022 AVP Manhattan Beach Open on Thursday ahead of the 2023 event. Each athlete was seeking to repeat as champions with new partners this year. On the other side of the world, three top U.S. beach pairs competed at the Elite16 in Hamburg.
AVP Manhattan Beach Open Recap
The AVP 2023 Manhattan Beach Open concluded on Sunday morning, crowning all-new winners despite soggy conditions caused by tropical storm Hilary. Thirty-two teams competed in “The Grandaddy,” with eight pairs also on the 2023 USA Volleyball Beach National Team roster.
On the men’s side of the tournament, Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander won their first three matches of winners bracket competition, but suffered their first setback when they faced No. 1 seed U.S. Beach National Team pair Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner on Saturday.
The first “Crabb Boil” match of the tournament between the two brothers sent the team of two Taylors to the contenders bracket. The duo rallied against U.S. Beach National Team pair and eventual fifth-place finishers Chase Budinger and Miles Evans, winning 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-10).
Taylor Crabb and Sander advanced to the semifinal against Logan Webber and Hagen Smith, earning a 2-0 victory (23-21, 21-15). This latest win set up a rainy rematch for it all on Stadium Court as Taylor and Sander once again faced top seed Trevor Crabb/Brunner.
It proved to be back-to-back straight set sweeps for Taylor Crabb/Sander. In the final, they found revenge on Trevor Crabb/Brunner 27-25, 21-16. It’s the first Manhattan Beach Open title for the pair, who have been consistently ranked among the top-five men’s pairs and won AVP Miami Beach earlier this year.
“This is legendary,” said Sander in an AVP interview post-match. “You’re not a legend unless you’re up on that pier, and we’re up there now. These fans are amazing. There’s a freaking hurricane, and they’re cheering in a packed stadium. This is our dream, and we’re living it.”
While Trevor Crabb had his bid for a fourth consecutive MBO title fall short at the hands of his brother, he does make history with him as the first blood relatives with plaques on the Manhattan Beach Pier Walk of Fame.
While it wasn’t a matchup of siblings, the women’s bracket was not without its own high stakes drama involving U.S. Beach National Team pairs.
Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles entered the 2023 MBO as the No. 1 seed but suffered a shocking upset to No. 32 seed Chloe Loreen/Natalie Robinson in their first match on Friday. The double elimination format put their backs against the wall in the contenders bracket for the remainder of play.
Scoles and Flint were pushed to the brink of being knocked out on the first day in their second contenders match on Friday. The pair split the first two sets with Lexy Denaburg/Carly Kan, but pulled out a 15-11 win in the third set to stay alive.
“Rough start in the morning, but we are really good playing match-to-match and staying in the present, so this is where we thrive,” said Flint after advancing to Saturday.
In total, Flint and Scoles ripped off seven straight victories after the initial match loss. Flint/Scoles finally left the contenders bracket behind with a 2-0 win against U.S. Beach National Team pair Corinne Quiggle and Sarah Schermerhorn, who ultimately finished fifth.
In the semifinals, the top seeded duo defeated Zana Muno/Deahna Kraft in two sets, putting themselves one win away from an incredible comeback. They would take on defending MBO champion Kelley Kolinske and partner Hailey Harward.
For their part, Harward and Kolinske had emerged from the contenders bracket to defeat the red-hot Megan Kraft/Emily Stockman. Kraft/Stockman had won all four opening matches in the winners bracket before Harward and Kolinske put an end to their tournament in the semifinals.
In the pouring rain on championship Sunday, in a matchup that pitted former partners and two U.S. Beach National Team pairs against each other, Flint and Scoles emerged as the victors. The duo capped off the incredible comeback with a 22-20, 21-13 win over Harward/Kolinske.
“The emotions are high and low all the time in this sport,” said Scoles. “It’s really about trying to stay steady and not riding the highs too high and the lows too low. We know this is such a talented field, and anyone is capable of winning on any given day. We just have to continue to show up each game and try our best and hope for the right outcome. That is exactly what we did this weekend, and I am just so grateful to be here playing the sport I love.”
In Germany, three U.S. Beach National Team pairs competed at Elite16 Hamburg
On the men’s side, the U.S. duo of Miles Partain and Andy Benesh were seeded second out of 28 teams. For the first time at an Elite16 event, Partain/Benesh were unable to medal as they lost their quarterfinal match to Ahman/Hellvig (SWE). The No. 2 ranked team in the world bested the U.S. pair in three sets (22-20, 16-21, 15-11).
On the women’s side, the third-seeded U.S. pair of Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss return to the States with silver medals. The No. 3 world-ranked pairing lost to world No.1 Ana Patricia/Duda (BRA) 21-16, 21-17 in the final match.
The next Elite16 event on the calendar will be in Paris, France from Sept. 27 – Oct. 1.
Futures – Baden, Brno, Seoul
There are three FIVB Futures events on the calendar happening this week.
Beach Pro Tour Futures in Baden, Austria takes place Aug. 23-27. U.S. men’s pair Logan Webber and Hagen Smith are set to compete.
Beach Pro Tour Futures in Brno, Czech Republic takes place Aug. 24-27. U.S. women’s pair Kim Hildreth/Teegan Van Gunst are set to compete.
Beach Pro Tour Futures in Seoul, Korea also takes place Aug. 24-27. U.S. women’s pairs Melissa Powell/Janet Kalaniuvalu and Carly Kan/Lexy Denaburg are set to compete.