Six U.S. Beach Teams Advance in Fort Lauderdale

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | March 01, 2018, 11 p.m. (ET)

Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb celebrate a great play against Brazil

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (March 1, 2018) – After three days of competition, six U.S. beach teams are still competing at the FIVB Fort Lauderdale Major, a five-star event on the beach World Tour.

Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb scored the biggest win of the tournament so far on Thursday, upsetting the defending world champions Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola, 21-16, 21-17 in their final pool play match.

Gibb and Crabb and their coach, Olympic libero Rich Lambourne, credited their preparation and game plan for the victory. Gibb was ready for Brazil to serve him the ball.

“We watched our match from last year and they served me every ball,” Gibb said. “Nobody wants to test the kid. He’s got too quick of an arm and he’s too good with the ball.”

Lambourne was encouraged by the victory.

“One of the things that’s been most exciting and most encouraging during our two matches here in Florida is how well Jake and Taylor are both implementing the game plan we talk about,” he said. “A lot of times you talk about a game plan and once the match gets going, it gets lost.”

Gibb and Crabb won the pool and advanced straight to Friday’s round of 16 where they will play the winner of the Round 1 match between John Hyden and Theo Brunner of the U.S. and Ben Saxton and Grant O’Gorman of Canada.

Hyden and Brunner held off elimination by defeating Austria’s Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz, 19-21, 21-16, 15-8. The U.S. team said they needed to shake off the first pool play loss from the day before.

“Obviously, it’s a confidence thing,” Hyden said. “I think Theo came out and we tried to say don’t think so much, just be who you are. Be huge and be quick. That’s what he did in that game.”

Top-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena needed little time to dispatch of Canada’s Saxton and O’Gorman in the late match, 21-15, 21-16 and win their pool. On Friday they will play the winner of the Round 1 match between Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikovn of Russia and Gutavo Carvalhaes and Victor Felipe of Brazil.

Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick lost their second pool play match to Poland's Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek on Thursday and were eliminated.

Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat advanced to the second round with a 21-16, 15-21, 15-8 win over Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado.

“Brooke was making so many amazing digs,” Ross said. “Nothing was hitting the ground.”

“It was actually a really fun match and the crowd was really into it,” Sweat said. “During the day, we don’t get that kind of energy.”

Ross and Sweat will have to play their U.S. teammates Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes in the second round on Friday.

Ross and Sweat will have to play their U.S. teammates Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes in the second round on Friday.

The team of Nicole Branagh and Lauren Fendrick will play Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Edwarda Lisboa on Friday in the second round.

The U.S. beach teams of April Ross and Alix Klineman and also Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar both lost their second pool play matches on Thursday and were eliminated from the competition.

As a new team, Ross and Klineman viewed the tournament as a learning experience. The team got off to a strong start by winning the FIVB four-star event in The Hague, but the Fort Lauderdale Major was a much different experience.

“We didn’t come into this tournament thinking we need to win this tournament because we won the last tournament,” Ross said. “We played two really good teams and we played great in some stretches and not so great in others.”

Klineman added: “What I’m learning is that every tournament is going to different and you have to keep adjusting to the place that you are in.”