AVP Hawaii Open final wrap up
The 2019 AVP Hawaii Open presented by Hawaii Tourism couldn’t have been graced with a better scene for Sunday’s semifinal and final rounds, set on the white sands of Fort DeRussy beachfront, Waikiki next to the pristine blue waters of Oahu’s coastline. Under mostly sunny skies, mid-80 degree temperatures and palm trees swaying in the light breeze, fans staked their claims early on the bleachers at Stadium Court and on the surrounding sands to eventually pack the area, making attendance numbers 12,000 people over three days. The 2019 AVP Hawaii Open caps off a successful eight-stop 2019 AVP Pro Tour season, which has seen an increase in overall attendance at every single tour stop.
“We can’t thank the people of Hawaii and fans enough for helping us conclude the 2019 AVP season in epic fashion here on the Fort DeRussy beachfront. Exceptional beach volleyball and engaged crowds helped us see record attendance this weekend,” said Donald Sun, CEO, AVP. “Hawaiian Tourism has been an incredible partner to us; we’re grateful for their hospitality and welcoming us back with open arms. It is an honor to bring the AVP here to Hawaii and we hope to return for many years to come.”
The 2019 AVP Hawaii Open also saw the debut of a new official Wilson volleyball for the tour, not only a vibrant combination of yellow, orange and black that distinctly stands out as athletes serve and ace it across the net, but a technical collaboration between the AVP, athletes and Wilson to deliver the ultimate spin, detection and visibility for optimum play.
No. 1 Alix Klineman/April Ross vs. No. 3 Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan
The women’s final was a fiercely competitive matchup between the 2018 AVP Hawaii Invitational winners “The A-Team” of Alix Klineman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and April “The Boss” Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and World Champions and No. 3-seed Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, Ontario, CAN) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, Ontario, CAN). The two teams faced off for the 10th time in competition and set the stage for an ultimate showdown. Pavan and Klineman, two of the best blockers in the game standing tall at 6’5, stayed close to the net throughout the entire match, going block-for-block. Both teams worked the back edges of court early on. Humana-Paredes hit up the middle gaps with stunning precision and notched back-to-back aces. A. Ross, recognized as one of the best servers in the world, fought back with her skillful serves over the net, and Klineman sliced an ace to tie it up 17-17, but it was a rally by Humana-Paredes/Pavan that ended the first set 21-19. Going into the second set, a block bounced off Pavan’s head ended up over the net and making the point. Toward the end, the majority of the action took place with Pavan versus Klineman at the net, utilizing their height to jump for improbable blocks and placing kills to the back lines. The set came to a nail-biting conclusion when Pavan’s Monster Block sealed the win for her and Humanes-Paredes for their second AVP title. (Final Score: 21-19, 21-17)
“This is amazing, Waikiki!” said Humana-Paredes. “This is the best way we could finish. We’re so happy we could do it here in Hawaii, one of our favorite places. Thank you all for cheering, whether you were cheering for us or against us, thank you!”
Pavan added, “We always know it’s going to be a battle, we always know it’s going to go right down to the wire. We love the intensity, and we love competing against the best teams in the world, so we are very lucky that we get to compete against them.”
No. 2 Taylor Crabb / Jake Gibb vs. No. 12 Theo Brunner / John Hyden
Sunday’s men’s final was an instant classic starring No. 2 seeds Hawaii-born Taylor Crabb (Honolulu, Hawaii) and three-time Olympian Jake Gibb (Huntington Beach, Calif.) versus No. 12 seeds Theo Brunner (Ridgefield, CT) and John Hyden (San Diego, CA). Neither teams are strangers to the top of the AVP podium, with Ta. Crabb/Gibb having been on top three times this season (the most of any men’s team on the AVP Pro Tour), and Brunner/Hyden focused on winning their first AVP title since July 2018. A few scrappy plays were made in the early points of set one, but an impressive dig and kill by Ta. Crabb tied the score 9-9 to a roaring crowd, who were clearly in support of the Hawaii-born champion and his partner Gibb. On set point, Hyden sent the ball down the line for the win, 21-18 in set No. 1.
Set two had Stadium Court at the edge of their seats as both teams tied early on at 6-6. However, Ta. Crabb had a big save and kill for what announcer Mark Schuermann awarded as the “Hammer of the Day” that assisted in a big comeback for Ta. Crabb/Gibb, inching them to 17-20. After numerous Championship Point opportunities for Brunner/Hyden, Gibb solidified the win with a Monster Block, taking the second set with an impressive comeback of 22-20.
Set three was full of heart-pumping excitement for the entire crowd who were on their feet. Ta. Crabb/Gibb lead for the majority of the set, with their first Championship Point opportunity at 14-13. Not to be eliminated quickly, Brunner/Hyden retaliated with more blocks. A long rally had the crowd holding their breath in anticipation of the final point as all four players were covered in sand. Ta. Crabb hit the ball to the back of the court for 16-15 followed by Brunner hitting the ball into the net to make it 17-15 for the victory for Ta. Crabb and Gibb in front of a hometown crowd. (Final Score: 18-21, 22-20, 17-15)
“I had nothing left, but you guys kept us going so thank you guys so much. We wouldn’t have won without the freeze...The fans have been so great to us all weekend and really pushed us through,” said Ta. Crabb.
Gibb added, “Something we don’t get to do very often is thank the man who makes all of this happen for us, and that’s Donald Sun, he’s the owner of the AVP. He deserves a great round of applause. And Amazon Prime, [the fact] that you guys get to watch at home...I think it’s one of the coolest things to happen in the sport in my whole career. I want to thank Hawaii, thank you for coming out here, you guys are amazing.”