HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — It’s not often the AVP gets a brother vs. brother match. Saturday at the AVP Hermosa Beach Open, there was one and the stakes were high.
Taylor Crabb, 25, and partner Jake Gibb defeated Trevor Crabb, 27, and partner Sean Rosenthal 21-19, 21-16 to move into Sunday’s semifinals. It was the first match between the brothers, who were partners many times the past three years and all of last season.
And while second-seeded Crabb and Gibb will play eighth-seeded Avery Drost and Chase Frishman in one semifinal, third-seeded Trevor Crabb and Rosenthal fought their way back into the second. A couple of hours after their loss, they bounced back and beat fourth-seeded Jeremy Casebeer and John Mayer 23-21, 21-13.
Should both Crabbs win in the semifinals, they would, of course, play again.
One women’s semifinal pits fourth-seeded Angela Bensend and Geena Urango, Team TexMex, against 10th-seeded Caitlin Ledoux and Maria Clara Salgado. Top-seeded Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar, who beat Bensend and Urango in the winners bracket, face sixth-seeded Lane Carico and Alix Klineman, the pair that made it to the AVP San Francisco final.
Among the results of note on Saturday, Reid Priddy and Ricardo Santos had to forfeit their third-round contenders-bracket match to Ed Ratledge and Eric Zaun when Santos dropped out because of vertigo. It was also a tough day for the winners of AVP San Francisco when Ty Loomis and Maddison McKibbin lost in the third round of the contenders bracket to Drost and Frishman.
Piotr Marciniak and Maria Clara Salgado also made it through to their first Sunday, partnered with Roberto “Rafu” Rodriguez and Caitlin Ledoux, respectively.
Taylor Crabb, who left his brother when the chance to team with Gibb came along, said he was trying to focus on his side of the net.
“People break up all the time,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s never personal and I don’t take it personally. Our coach and Jake and I met before the game and said the bigger picture here is about us, we want to make it to the finals, we want to win this tournament. And it shouldn’t matter and it shouldn’t change our game plan about who’s in front of us. That’s what we were focused on.”
Taylor seemed to bring more heat as the match progressed. He got in some pretty good rips as he and Gibb more or less controlled both sets.
“I like to swing more than shoot,” he said. “In the beginning I came out a little tentative and I shot some balls and they picked them up. So I decided to change it up and I took some swings at the ball.”
The 6-foot-7 Gibb, 41, and former partner Casey Patterson broke up amicably after the 2016 Rio Olympics, which created an opening for the 6-foot Taylor Crabb. It paid off big earlier this summer when they won AVP New York, Taylor’s only first-place finish. Trevor has five second-place finishes on his resume.
Chris Crabb, Trevor’s and Taylor’s father, played both indoors and on the beach in his native Hawai’i. Saturday he was more than just a casual observer watching his sons, who he said were touching a volleyball by the time they were a year old.
They played on the small courts at the Outrigger Canoe Club, he said. “Taylor was more of the gym rat. Trevor was, too, but he was into basketball and love basketball. He would play volleyball.”
“I set up a court in our backyard and we’d play big backyard games. It was on concrete and we’d just use a string (as the net) between the garage to the side of the house. One time our neighbor called the police about balls flying and hitting their house at 8 o’clock in the morning. Literally.”
Chris Crabb said he often would serve as the setter for each of his sons, going back and forth under the net if they couldn’t rustle up enough players.
Trevor, 6-4, played a season at the University of Puget Sound before transferring and finishing at Long Beach State. Taylor was three-time Volleyball magazine (now VolleyballMag.com) All-American from 2012-14 and was the 2013 AVCA national player of the year.
Chris Crabb said he thought their match, played before a big, enthusiastic crowd, would be a pick-em.
“I hope both guys play well,” he said before they took the court. “I really don’t know who’s going to win. I know that some people might say that Jake and Taylor are favored, but Trevor’s super competitive. He’s the more competitive of the two of them.”
Taylor wasn’t sure about that.
“I would say he’s more emotional about it. You can see it from him. He’s definitely very competitive. I’m competitive, too, but probably don’t show it as much as him.”