Olympians rock the AVP Gold Series Manhattan Beach Open

MANHATTAN BEACH, CA – (AVP Pro Tour) Championship Sunday did not disappoint as beach mode was in full effect with enthusiastic crowds filling the Manhattan Beach venue to cheer on the best volleyball players in action. Over four days, 80,000 fans attended the free admission Gold Series tournament and festival to watch the longest running professional beach volleyball tour in the world.

The big moment arrived to crown the men’s team of Reid Priddy/Trevor Crabb and the women’s team of Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes the Gold Series // Manhattan Beach Open champions. Both teams fought through a stacked tournament of tough competitors to reach the top. As a result of their wins, both teams will walk away with a bigger prize purse, more points and have their names enshrined on special commemorative plaques on the Volleyball Walk of Fame at the historic Manhattan Beach Pier among 59 years of past champions.

AVP – 2019 Manhattan Beach Open Manhattan Beach Pier. Sunday, July 18, 2019. Credit: Robert Beck

“This is an iconic event and then to be able to join some of the greats on the pier is really humbling,” said Sarah Pavan. An emotional Melissa Humana-Paredes added, “One of the things you hope as an athlete is to leave a legacy behind and I think we’re doing that. There are no words.”

“This a great day. We woke up and texted each other, we’re not going to have our best day, we’re going to fight hard,” said Reid Priddy, four-time Olympic indoor volleyball gold medalist who made his transition to beach volleyball in 2017. “And we’re stoked for our year of free parking in Manhattan Beach.”

The men’s finals turned out to be a humdinger. New partners for this tournament, Trevor Crabb (Honolulu, Hawaii) and four-time Olympian and gold medal indoor Olympian, No. 4 Reid Priddy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) faced off with the recent 2019 Hermosa Beach Open champions, the No. 2 ranked Olympian Casey Patterson (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and seven-year NBA veteran-turned AVP champion Chase Budinger (Hermosa Beach, Calif.).

AVP – 2019 Manhattan Beach Open Manhattan Beach Pier. Sunday, July 18, 2019. Credit: Robert Beck

A vocal Patterson looked to amp up his partner Budinger as they trailed the first set with Priddy/Tr. Crabb taking the win at 21-15. In the second set, playing with a sheer intensity that would not quit, Priddy set the pace moving the game at an electric pace to take home the win at 21-19. Final Score: 21-15, 21-19.

As for the women’s final, it was a contest to what the rest of the world may see next year.  In what very well could be a preview of Tokyo 2020, the world champions and No. 11 AVP seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, Ontario, CAN) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, Ontario, CAN) were matched against the unstoppable No. 1 seeded and current No. 1 team in the world women’s “A-Team” of Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.).

Coming off a 30-game win streak, Klineman/A. Ross were hyper-focused. The best blocker in the world, Pavan established a commanding presence at the net and with an assist from Humana-Paredes eventually won set one 28-26. In the second set the force that is April Ross kept the ball and her team’s chances alive with creative play and a win at 21-16. The third set proved challenging for both teams and could have easily gone either way. In the end Pavan/Humana-Paredes won on their seventh match point 16-14. Final Score: 28-26, 21-16, 16-14.

AVP – 2019 Manhattan Beach Open Manhattan Beach Pier. Brandie Wilkerson having some fun on Saturday, July 17, 2019. Credit: AVP Pro Tour

Before the drama of the finals, there was plenty of solid performances leading up to the championship. On the men’s side of things, four-time Olympian, No. 4 Reid Priddy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and new partner for this tournament, Trevor Crabb (Honolulu, Hawaii) successfully beat No. 3 team of “Team TNT” of Tim Bomgren (Woodbury, Minn.) and Troy Field (Mission Viejo, Calif.) to make it to the semifinals.

Priddy/Tr. Crabb took their shot against the No. 1 seed and two-time defending Manhattan Beach Open champions Nick “The Greyhound” Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and partner, seven-time Manhattan Beach Open champion Phil “The Beast” Dalhausser (Orlando, Fla.) The first set was led by Reid/Tr. Crabb who had more focus and energy than Dalhausser/Lucena.

The second set was marked by a contested red card on an angry Lucena over a ball violation charge. Energy restored, Dalhausser/Lucena made a return to their winning style of play and gained momentum, but a fired-up Priddy was not giving an inch and with partner Tr. Crabb landed six aces and won the second set. Final Score: 21-12, 23-21.

AVP – 2019 Manhattan Beach Open Manhattan Beach Pier. Saturday, July 17, 2019. Sara Hughes and Brandie Wilkerson. Credit Mpu Dinani

In the largest upset of the tournament, the qualifying pair of No. 26 Eric Beranek (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and Bill Kolinske (Redondo Beach, Calif.) upset the No. 5 duo of Jeremy “The Lorax” Casebeer (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Chaim Schalk (Alberta, CAN) to advance. 26th seeded Beranek/Kolinske became the lowest seeded team to reach the semifinals since the 2006 Hermosa Beach Open (previously #27 Brad Keenan / John Mayer).

The outer court was packed as Beranek/Kolinske meet-up with No. 2 seed Olympian Casey Patterson (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and seven-year NBA veteran-turned AVP champion Chase Budinger (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) Budinger/Patterson easily won the first set with Kolinske/Beranke making a strong comeback in the second set unbelievably pushing it to a third. Kolinske/Beranek’s impressive run was short lived as Budinger/Patterson maintained the lead in the third wrapping it up. Final Score: 21-11, 22-20, 15-11.

The women matchups were just as exhilarating as the men were. No. 4 Brandie Wilkerson (Toronto, Ontario, CAN) and Sara Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) had an upset win to knock out the recent 2019 Hermosa Beach Open Champions, No. 2 Emily Day (Torrance, Calif.) and Betsi Flint (Westchester, Calif.). As a result, Wilkerson/Hughes faced off with the No. 1 women’s “A-Team” of Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) in the semifinals.

AVP – 2019 Manhattan Beach Open Manhattan Beach Pier. Saturday, July 17, 2019. Credit: AVP Pro Tour

Hughes/Wilkerson had a slow start with Klineman/A. Ross quickly taking set one. Set two had a much slower pace, with a key ace by Wilkerson and then a long rally buoyed Wilkerson/Hughes to set three. In front of a standing room only crowd, each team intensely matched point for point, with Klineman/A. Ross eeking out a win 15-12. This marked the A-Team’s 30th win a row. Final Score: 21-16 , 19-21, 15-12.

No. 11 AVP seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, Ontario, CAN) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, Ontario, CAN) played against the No 5. pair of USC alum Terese Cannon (Pittsford, N.Y.) and UCLA alum Kelly Reeves (Redondo Beach, Calif.) Pavan/Humana-Paredes dominated the entire match from start to finish, with Reeves putting up an admirable 22 kills . However Pavan/Humana-Paredes deftly took the first set 21-15 and quickly wrapped up the second set 21-16. Final Score: 21-15, 21-16.

Courtesy of AVP Pro Tour 

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