Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb picked a great time to score their first victory as a team on the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.
The tandem was sharp in recording a 21-16, 25-23 victory over Billy Allen and Stafford Slick in front of a network television audience on Sunday at the AVP New York City Open. Gibb and Crabb fought off four set points before finally closing out their opponents in straight sets.
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.
“I got more comfortable,” Crabb said afterward on the NBC Sports broadcast. “(In the) first three, I didn’t know what to expect, but this one kind of felt more like another game, and I was prepared for it.”
Gibb was asked whether he did anything to soothe his younger teammate prior to the match.
“I think he needed to calm my nerves,” Gibb said afterward. “This kid is ice. I felt like it was my first final. He really was super calm and collected and played amazing all weekend. I’m so proud of him.”
In the women’s final, which also took place Sunday, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick defeated Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat 24-22, 22-15.
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.
Thomas Neumann is a Florida-based writer and journalist who previously worked at ESPN and the San Diego Union-Tribune. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.