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Ross-Klineman, Bourne-Crabb capture AVP Manhattan Beach Open titles

MANHATTAN BEACH, California — After a tournament that saw a little bit of everything, including a 39-37 set score Sunday in a contenders-bracket elimination match, the AVP Manhattan Beach Open winners were top-seeded April Ross and Alix Klineman and fourth-seeded Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb.

And in one of the great sporting traditions in America, their respective victories will be commemorated in the form of a volleyball-shaped plaque embedded in the nearby Manhattan Beach Pier.

Olympic gold-medalists Ross and Klineman, together for the first time since winning in Tokyo, defeated third-seeded Emily Day and Betsi Flint. Ross and Klineman won the first set 21-13, but led 20-15 in the second before Flint went on a serving run to tie the set at 20-20 before closing it out 22-20. They went 4-0 in the tournament and split $25,000. Day and Flint split $17,500.

Bourne, who played in Tokyo with Jake Gibb, and Trevor Crabb beat top-seeded Budinger and Patterson, who won the previous week’s AVP Atlanta, 21-19, 24-22. They, too, took home $25,000.

There was a measure of revenge for the winners, too, since Budinger-Patterson vs. Bourne-Crabb was a rematch from Saturday when Budinger-Patterson won 18-21, 21-17, 15-9.

This was the first pro beach event in California played before fans since the start of the pandemic.

AVP Manhattan Beach 8/22/2021-April Ross
April Ross digs on her way to her fourth MBO win/Ed Chan,

Ross is now a four-time Manhattan Beach winner (2014 with Kerri Walsh Jennings, 2015 with Jennifer Fopma, and with Klineman in 2018). Ross said that she and Klineman were able to work their way into the tournament.

“We were really exhausted,” Ross said, “and it hit me harder in the finals how special this is, so ‘Let’s see how we do.’

“The adrenaline went from 10 to 100.”

Klineman, now a two-time Manhattan Beach winner, wasn’t sure how they would fare.

“Honestly, I’m not sure what my expectations for this week were. It’s been such a roller coaster winning gold in Tokyo, and we didn’t feel super-sharp coming into this weekend. The crowd was amazing, and we took it point by point and it feels amazing to get our names on the pier again.”

Crabb, now a two-time MBO winner (2019, Reid Priddy), famously guaranteed the win for his team on Instagram.

“It worked the last time, so I figured that if it was going to be for a certain tournament, it was going to be for this one,” Crabb said. “I want to win, so it worked out.”

For Bourne, the win capped a year where he accomplished both of his biggest goals in volleyball.

“I’m still trying to comprehend it,” Bourne admitted, “but it was one of those benchmarks in my career. That’s all I wanted, one was to make the Olympics, and one was to win Manhattan.

Sunday began with second-seeded Olympians Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil winning that epic first set and then the match over AVP Atlanta-champions Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss,the No. 9 seed, 39-37, 21-15. Then, in the other contenders-bracket elimination match, Larissa and Liliane had to go the distance and then some to get past Sara Hughes and fourth-seeded Canadian Olympian Brandie Wilkerson 15-21, 21-18, 17-15.

In the semifinals, the A Team then bounced Claes and Sponcil 21-18, 21-17, while Day and Flint won a battle with Larissa and Liliane 21-14, 22-20

On the men’s side, the contenders bracket had the battle of the brothers facing off as Bourne and Trevor Crabb ousted second-seeded Olympians Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb 21-12, 21-16. In the other elimination match, 10th-seeded Billy Allen and Andy Benesh, the surprise team of the tournament, battled back and knocked out ninth-seeded John Hyden and Ricardo Santos  after facing match point in the second set 20-22, 23-21 15-9.

Then in the semifinals, Budinger and Patterson sent Allen and Benesh home 21-17, and Bourne and Crabb knocked out previously unbeaten third-seeded Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk 18-21, 21-18, 15-11.

After back-to-back weekends, the AVP Tour is off until September 3-5 when it concludes its three-tournament 2021 season in Chicago.

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AVP Manhattan Beach 8/22/2021-Liliane Maestrini
Liliane Maestrini throws off her hat and glasses after securing their berth in the semifinals/Ed Chan,