What a difference a year makes.
Taylor Crabb played with a big group of fellow Long Beach State alumni in the open 6’s tournament at the World Series Of Beach Volleyball last year because he didn’t qualify for FIVB competition. This weekend, the international Long Beach Presidents Cup exhibition at the WSOBV is just another chapter in Crabb’s storybook summer.
Crabb and veteran partner Jacob Gibb advanced through pool play on Friday to face Olympian Phil Dalhausser, and his new partner Nick Lucena, in the quarterfinals at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The match will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. The semis and final will be played on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a great Saturday in Long Beach,” Crabb said. “I’m expecting the stands to be filled, and I’m going to feed off of the energy. Hopefully we can take down one of the best teams in the world.”
Crabb, 25, was a two-time All-American and AVCA National Player of the Year as a junior at LBSU. He made his professional beach volleyball debut in 2011 with his brother and fellow 49er, Trevor. The brothers continued to play together as AVP Newcomers of the Year, and Taylor was named the AVP Best Defensive Player in 2016. They reached two AVP semifinals last season, and then a partner switch changed everything for Taylor.
Fellow LBSU alum Tyler Hildebrand was a coach for Gibb and partner Casey Patterson, but they split after last season. Hildebrand’s first call was to Crabb to offer him the opportunity of a lifetime.
“We met once and decided to play together,” Crabb said. “This all still feels new to me so (Gibb) helps me out with all of the tips and tricks of traveling and playing against these teams he’s played against forever.”
Gibb, 41, is a two-time Olympian (2008, 2012) who won the last AVP tour event in Long Beach in 2008. He and Crabb won the AVP event in New York last month. It was Crabb’s first AVP win, and he will make his FIVB World Championships debut in Austria at the end of this month.
“We both help each other out,” Crabb said. “(Gibb) is a veteran who knows a lot about the game and can teach me. I’m the young kid who always has energy, and I can go any day of the week he wants.”
Crabb said he'll make sure to stop by and say hello to the LBSU alums playing in the 6's tournament on Saturday.
Dalhausser and Lucena won their three pool play matches while only dropping one set. In the other American quarterfinal on Friday, Patterson and Theo Brunner edged John Hyden and Ryan Doherty 26-14, 19-21, 15-13.
On the international men’s side, Canadians Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter beat Spaniards Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira in Friday’s quarterfinal 21-15, 21-14. Italians Alex Ranghieri and Marco Caminati will face Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak in the other quarterfinal on Saturday.
The semifinals are set for the Long Beach Presidents Cup after American teams April Ross/Lauren Fendrick and Sara Hughes/Kelly Claes won their quarterfinal matches Friday afternoon.
Ross and Fendrick showed why they’re the favorites to represent the USA in the final by surviving a defensive battle with Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross, 24-22, 21-13. Trailing 18-14 in the first set, Ross and Fendrick had a quick conversation about defensive timing. They then went on a 6-2 run to tie the set 20-20. Ross clinched it with a one-handed dig and kill.
“We really had to dig and figure out what we were doing on defense,” Ross said. “I’ve played with a lot of people who go, go, go. (Fendrick) is more calm to stop and think about things. I don’t think I’ve talked about strategy in a match as much as with her. We figure things out.”
Recent USC grads Hughes and Claes won their second three-set match of the weekend, defeating Kim Dicello and Emily Stockman 21-14, 13-21, 15-12 to reach the semifinal against Ross/Fendrick at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The final is scheduled for 2 p.m on Saturday. Top-seeded Brazilians Talita and Larissa will face Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst in the international semifinal at 10:30 a.m.
Visit WSOBV.com for updated results and schedule.