AUSTIN, Texas — Hitting up the med tent was the first thing on Karissa Cook’s list Saturday after defeating Sarah Day and Nicolette Martin in the crossover match of the 2018 AVP Austin Open.
The second: Talking some trash via text to her opponent in Sunday’s semifinals, fellow Stanford beach volleyball coach Lauren Fendrick.
“And then asking her to drive us to dinner,” Cook said with a laugh.
Cook and partner Katie Spieler, seeded ninth here, have played together for the past two seasons on the AVP tour, but they met in 2014 when Cook transferred to Hawai’i to play her fifth year on the beach following a four-year indoor career at Stanford. Until today, the pair’s best finish was a seventh at the 2016 AVP Chicago Open.
“It feels amazing,” Cook said after the 21-14, 21-16 victory over Day and Martin. “We’re both so excited to play Lauren and Sarah tomorrow. We got to train with them, I coach with Lauren at Stanford, and she’s one of my favorite human beings alive. I think it’s really fitting that that’s who we’re going to get to see in the semis.”
Spieler describes the 5-11 blocker Cook’s game as “unconventional” and “tricky,” to which Cook added, “Like an elderly woman.”
Spieler, 5-foot-5, acrobatic and really quick, Cook said, “is like Mighty Mouse.”
“I joke that I just stand at the net and turn around and the ball is always up,” Cook said. “I’m spoiled. I’m just waiting for her to dump me.”
Earlier in the day, seventh-seeded Fendrick and Sarah Sponcil continued their cruise through the winners bracket with a 21-13, 21-17 victory over qualifier team Janelle Allen and Kerri Schuh.
On the opposite side of the bracket top-seeded Alix Klineman and April Ross will take on Carico and Karolina Marciniak in the first semifinal.
A year ago, Klineman, a former indoor national-team player, partnered with Jace Pardon in Austin and went 0-2. Her rise since has been downright meteoric, making it to the final of the 2017 AVP San Francisco Open with Carico, and then pairing with Ross to win a gold medal at the first big FIVB tournament of this year in the Hague. The pair, which is coached by Ross’ former partner Jen Kessy, entered this year’s Austin Open as the top seed.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Klineman said. “I felt like last year I was just a little bit a fish out of water, just doing my best, and it’s pretty cool to be in a completely different position now.”
The Nos. 1, 6 and 7 seeds on both sides are in Sunday’s semifinals.
The top men’s seed of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena also advanced to Sunday’s semifinals. They’ll face fifth-seeded Stafford Slick and Casey Patterson, who took down Billy Allen and Ryan Doherty in the crossover.
The other men’s semifinal pits seventh-seeded Jeremy Casebeer and Reid Priddy against sixth-seeded Taylor Crabb and Tim Bomgren, a last-minute partnership formed out of necessity when Crabb’s partner Jake Gibb broke his toe.
Slick and Patterson teamed up in the offseason, and although this is their first AVP tournament together, they already have five FIVB tournaments under their belt.
“I would say the five international tournaments that we’ve played have given us a lot of insight into areas we need to improve,” Slick said. “It was a slow start, but we’ve been communicating a lot more and trying to figure out where the holes in our game are. I think we’re starting to seal those up, and we’re starting to get a little bit of a rhythm now.”
Bomgren, a 30-year-old blocker who lives full-time in Minnesota and works for a software company, has played on tour since 2013, usually with his older brother, Brian. Brian’s nursing a knee injury, and Tim was originally signed up to play in the Austin qualifier with Curt Toppel, but a partnership with Crabb meant starting the tournament in the main draw, an opportunity Bomgren couldn’t pass up.
Crabb and Bomgren’s win over John Mayer and Trevor Crabb in the crossover marks Bomgren’s second appearance in the semifinals. He admits he often wonders how his volleyball career might have turned out if he and Brian had moved out to California together and trained year round, but he has no regrets.
“There’s so many factors in it, but ultimately we have so many friends and family back home, we’ve got good jobs, nice houses and it just wasn’t a fit for us,” Bomgren said. Instead, they built a court in Brian’s backyard and train as much as they can, even if it means getting out there when there’s still snow on the ground from time to time.
Sunday’s forecast predicts a high of 87 with occasional thunderstorms, practically arctic compared to the mid-90s that have plagued the players for the first two days of the tournament.