Thrills and spills from Manhattan Beach Open

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – There was a lot going on at this year’s AVP Gold Series Manhattan Beach Open. Thousands of onlookers and fans of beach volleyball made their way down to Manhattan Beach to watch matches from perhaps the signature event of the AVP Tour.

Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

Those fans were not disappointed. Over the course of three days, the best of the best beach volleyball players competed against one another for the right to have their names added to the Manhattan Beach Pier Walk of Fame. Of course, there was some prize money to be won as well. By the time the finale had concluded, only two teams were left standing.

Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

Second-seeded Sara Hughes and Kelley Kolinske culminated their battle through the contenders’ bracket Sunday by securing their first ever AVP Gold Series Manhattan Beach Open victory – joining beach volleyball’s legends with a plaque on the Manhattan Beach Pier Walk of Fame.  

On the men’s side, second-seeded Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb defended their Manhattan Beach Open title, as Crabb won the tournament for a third straight playing and Bourne won his second consecutive MBO. 

For Hughes and Kolinske, the women’s final was an opportunity to get revenge on thirird-seeded Kelly Cheng and Betsi Flint, who knocked them into the contenders’ bracket in a fourth-round sweep Saturday afternoon. 

While Cheng and Flint were the statistical favorites, going undefeated all tournament and boasting three of three wins against this duo, Hughes and Kolinske were the crowd favorites and relied on the energy of their friends, families and fans to pull out a 21-18, 11-21, 15-13 win in the women’s final. 

Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

“I think the fans see how hard we’re working. We are grinding. We are never giving up. We are working with our trainer. We’re working with our coach, Evie (Matthews), on all the little things,” explained Hughes. “I really truly believe that (the fans) see that and appreciate that.” 

The men’s final was an exact replica of the Fort Lauderdale Open final matchup, featuring Bourne and Crabb across the net from top-seeded Brunner and Schalk. While Bourne and Crabb swept the number one seed in straight sets along the Atlantic, they had to battle through a third set here on Pacific sand. 

Although Bourne and Crabb struggled to make it into the finals earlier this season, they found their groove and have secured AVP victories from coast to coast. Sunday, they cruised to a 21-17, 21-14 victory in the men’s final. 

Crabb became the first male player to win the Manhattan Beach Open three straight times since Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers did it as a pair from 2006-08. 

Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

The AVP Gold Series Manhattan Beach Open ran Thursday through Sunday and featured 32 men’s and 32 women’s teams competing in the main draw for a $300,000 purse, tied for the largest of the season. It was the tenth event in a 2022 AVP schedule that includes 16 tournaments in 12 states across the country and offers $2 million in prize money – the most comprehensive tournament slate for the AVP since 2009.