The AVP rolled into lower Manhattan this past weekend, for the third stop of the 2017 AVP Pro Tour. Under the blazing sun, the energy from Stadium Court remained high as the final teams battled for the title and prize money in front of a crowded venue of enthusiastic fans ringing cowbells, doing the wave and dancing to the “Monster Block” whenever an athlete would showcase an impressive block. Established in 1983, the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) is the world’s premier beach volleyball organization.
Ross and Fendrick Got The Best Of Ross and Sweat
April Ross and Lauren Fendrick won the women’s championship and the $18,000 first-place check that goes with it, beating Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross 24-22, 21-15. It was the second win of the season for April Ross, who won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 alongside Kerri Walsh Jennings. She had teamed with Whitney Pavlik to win the AVP event last month in Austin, Texas. April Ross and Fendrick also won together in 2015 at Huntington Beach, California. Sweat and Fendrick competed as a team last year at the Rio Olympics.
In the first set, Fendrick and April Ross started off slow, and it was unclear if Ross could finish the match. Ross dislocated her toe ,which nearly caused a forfeit, before the final match.Then they made a huge comeback, even saving set point on their way to a 24–22 first-set victory.
In the second set, the 5’8” Sweat was struggling against the power of her former Olympic partner, Fendrick. Once April Ross got into the match, and let her adrenaline get the best of her toe, she and Fendrick were unstoppable. Summer Ross and Sweat stuck around, but April Ross and Fendrick proved too good, winning the second set 21–15.
Their first title in their second tournament as a team meant even more to them because they overcame adversity. Said Fendrick, “It feels good to know that we have that level, to really be able to step up if needed.” Ross said she thought her being vocal during the match helped Fendrick know that she was okay, which helped push them through.
Crabb and Gibbs Wins a Thriller Against Allen and Slick
In the NBC-televised men’s final, Taylor Crabb scored his first win with Jake Gibb, as they defeated Billy Allen and Stafford Slick 21-16, 25-23. Their Men’s Final featured passionate sets from both teams, complete with grunts, long rallies and hard earned points, but the victory was sealed by Gibb and Ta. Crabb for Taylor’s first AVP Men’s Championship.
“First, I’d like to thank my parents who sacrificed everything so I could play, thank you“ said Taylor Crabb. “Then our coach, my teammate, who made me better to get here – we can battle it out every day. I love battling with them. This is our team.”
The victory at Hudson River Park in Manhattan comes in the first of three Gold Series tour stops that offer elevated paydays and series points. The other Gold Series tournaments are in Chicago and Manhattan Beach, California.
Gibb has competed in the past three Olympic Games, but this is his first year playing with Crabb. It was the 27th career tour victory for the 41-year-old Gibb and the first for the 25-year-old Crabb, who was 0-for-3 in his previous AVP final appearances.
Because of the 91° heat, the last rounds of the tournament were brutal, but there was still a fantastic atmosphere, thanks in part to announcer Mark Schuerman. Fans were very involved in the match, but there never seemed to be a clear crowd favorite. Once again ,the AVP weekend was a complete success. Fans were already starting to talk about next year’s championship.
Stop No. 4 of the 2017 AVP Pro Tour will continue to Lake Sammamish State Park in Seattle from June 22-25, with additional stops in San Francisco, Hermosa Beach, and Gold Series events in Manhattan Beach and the Championships in Chicago.
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