HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — Theo Brunner and John Hyden were down 14-12 in the third set, but rallied Sunday to win the AVP Hermosa Beach Open, beating Ryan Doherty and Billy Allen 21-19, 16-21, 16-14 in a match that took exactly one hour.
Earlier, Sara Hughes and Summer Ross made it 2-for-2 on the AVP tour this season with a 19-21, 21-19, 17-15 victory over April Ross and Alix Klineman. The winners, who also took gold at AVP New York, went up 14-13 in the third and the set went through 23 serves after the freeze kicked in before they finally closed it out.
It was Brunner’s and Hyden’s first AVP victory this year after finishing ninth in Austin and third in both New York and Seattle.
Hyden, had 23 kills, 12 digs, and hit .381 in the final.
“It feels fantastic,” Hyden said, “We just haven’t gotten over the hump. To battle through a three-game match earlier in the heat and not have as much rest as the other team we just played, it feels really good to pull that out.”
Brunner, who had 14 kills, five blocks, and hit .455, knew that down 14-12, they had a shot with the freeze rule.
“I’ve played a lot of matches in my career so far,” Brunner said, “and I’ve had a lot of comebacks, so with the freeze rule, I just thought that if we could get in a side-out rhythm, we could use that adrenalin at the end of the game to go big.
“But Ryan is so damn big, he’s hard to block. I knew we had a great shot if we could side out a couple of times and get in their head a little bit.”
Earlier Hyden and Brunner defeated defending champions Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb in another tight three-setter, 21-16, 18-21, 15-12. Allen and Doherty reached the final by defeating Ed Ratledge and Roberto “Rafu” Rodriguez 22-20, 21-19.
Watch the rest of the interview by VolleyballMag.com’s Rob Espero:
Hughes had 19 kills, 25 digs — some spectacular — and hit .318 in the women’s final.
“My goal was to not let anything hit the sand,” Hughes said, “to just go all out, and I hope I did that. I just wanted to get every ball I could.”
Summer Ross had 27 kills, eight digs, two blocks, two aces, and hit .458.
“I know I have to hit and come in strong every time if I want to get a kill at this level,” Ross said. “April is playing really well. She’s setting a new standard where you have to come out aggressive every time.
Hughes and Ross reached the final by defeating Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar 21-18, 21-19. The “A-team”, Klineman and Ross, defeated Caitlin Ledoux and Geena Urango 21-14, 18-21, 15-9 in their semifinal matchup.
Watch more from Hughes and Ross:
Each winning pair split $15,000. Both teams are headed to Vienna, Austria, for the final five-star event of the FIVB calendar. Ross and Hughes headed directly to the airport, while Hyden and Brunner planned to enjoy the evening with family and friends and fly Monday.