Ultimately, there was no brotherly love in the rematch of the brothers.
In a match televised live by NBC Sports — the women’s final was not televised, only streamed online — Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb won their second tour gold-medal of the season, beating Trevor Crabb and Sean Rosenthal in the AVP Hermosa Beach Open men’s final 21-16, 17-21, 15-11.
“I’ve never won here,” said Gibb, who now has 28 AVP victories. “It’s my first time.”
After the match ended, one during which both brothers were asked by sideline reporter Dain Blanton about their rivalry but both played it down, Taylor Crabb and Trevor Crabb exchanged a quick handshake and that was it.
Then in the women’s final, Brittany Hochevar’s ace punctuated a 21-17, 21-13 victory for her and Emily Day over Team TexMex, Angela Bensend — who was celebrating her 28th birthday –and Geena Urango, a stark contrast from their match a day earlier.
It marked the second AVP victory of the season for the veteran Hochevar, 36, and the 29-year-old Day, which ended a good week of beach volleyball on Hermosa Beach.
By comparison, the women’s final was pretty matter-of-fact after a gripping men’s match where much of the focus was on the brothers.
“Most importantly is that me and Jake won this together, our second win together,” said Taylor Crabb, who partnered with his brother last year before they split and he went with Gibb, who is also Rosenthal’s former partner.
“I’m real thrilled that I have him as a partner,” Taylor Crabb continued, “and I have the utmost respect for him as a player and as an athlete and I’m just excited to be with him this year and what we’ve done so far.”
In Saturday’s winners-bracket final, Crabb-Gibb won 21-19, 21-16, which forced Crabb-Rosenthal into an elimination match that they won over Jeremy Casebeer and John Mayer 23-21, 21-13.
Then in Sunday morning’s semifinals, Crabb-Rosenthal beat Piotr Marciniak and Roberto Rodriguez 21-18, 21-16, and Crabb-Gibb beat Avery Drost and Chase Frishman 21-11, 21-17.
The 6-foot-7 Gibb, a three-time Olympian — twice with Rosenthal, in 2008 and 2012– and Crabb won AVP New York six weeks ago. He was pretty excited after the title match as he dwarfed and hugged his 6-foot-tall teammate, the 25-year-old who was a indoor All-American at Long Beach State.
“The young kid, he honestly calms me,” said the 41-year-old Gibb. “I get so anxious, I want to win so bad that I can’t contain myself. And I look over at him and he’s not even breathing hard. He’s a real good complement to me. That’s such a special way to win in Hermosa, I’ll tell you.”
Special because Gibb and Crabb fell behind early in the first set before closing with a 15-5 finish.
“We came into the technical time out down 12-9 and our coach (Marcio Sicoli) had some really good keys for us. We changed our game plan a little bit and put a little more pressure on them and pulled that set out.”
Then Rosenthal, who is from Hermosa, and the other Crabb controlled the second set, mostly because they then served Crabb and made him pass and hit.
“It was kind of crazy, that match, it was back and forth,” Taylor Crabb said. “It was leads one way and then leads the other way. It was nasty. It wasn’t like we got the lead early and then held it. We had to grovel and fight and just try to figure it out, like a chess match. And some of the stuff that Rosie did out there is gonna be on YouTube for a while. I mean, he’s ridiculous.”
In the third, Rosenthal-Crabb fell behind and staged a late rally before Crabb-Gibb closed it out, ending the match with Gibb’s block of Rosenthal.
“That was a fun energy match. Rosie’s like a brother to me,” Gibb said. “I mean, we golf a lot together. We’re very close, our families are close and playing together for seven years, two Olympics together, he’s one of my closest friends. And then the brother connection …”
Taylor quickly jumped in with, “Trevor’s like a brother to me.”
The winners leave Monday for Vienna, site of the FIVB World Beach Championships that begin Friday.
“Worlds is a whole new animal. We have to reset,” Gibb said. “We know we’re playing well, but it’s not like we were dominating them out there. To be honest, it’s a full reset. New ball, new teams, a re-focus.”
The win was Hochevar’s fourth on the AVP Tour and second this season with Day. They won the season-opening tournament at Huntington Beach.
“We knew we had to play better than we did in the semis to win,” Day said. Sunday morning they were thoroughly extended as they knocked out Lane Carico and Alix Klineman 21-17, 25-23. In the other semi, Bensend and Urango got past Caitlin Ledoux and Maria Clara Salgado 21-14, 15-21, 15-13.
Their final was also a rematch of the last match Saturday in the winners bracket, where Hochever and Day beat TexMex 19-21, 21-18, 15-12. Bensend and Urango then beat Sheila Shaw and Xi Zhang 21-15, 18-21, 15-13 to get to the semifinals, so clearly they expended way more energy than Hochevar and Day.
“Everybody’s getting better and everybody’s good,” Hochevar said. “Geena and Bennie are good.
“I think they got tired. It was a long tourney for them because we beat them early and they had to come back through the losers bracket. But they’re a good team. We had to be on all the time. We couldn’t take a point off.”