AVP Manhattan Beach: Strong field of favorites fill semifinal spots

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Kelly Claes closes her quarterfinal win with a stuff block/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — If you were looking for some new kids on the block, the AVP Manhattan Beach Open was not the place to find them Saturday.

That’s because the respective semifinals are comprised of the top teams: Seeds 1-2-3-5 for the women; 1-2-3-6 for the men.

On the women’s side, top-seeded Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar will play second-seeded Emily Day and Betsi Flint, while third-seeded April Ross and Alix Klineman play the fifth seed, Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman. Not coincidentally, those were the four teams that settled into the winners bracket at the end of Friday’s action.

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Taylor Crabb rips a spike past Theo Brunner/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

On the men’s side, top-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena will play second-seeded John Hyden and Theo Brunner, while in the other semi third-seeded Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb take on sixth-seeded Jeremy Casebeer and Reid Priddy.

Claes and Hochevar sent Larsen and Stockman to the contenders bracket with a 21-13, 26-24 victory and then got to take the rest of the day off as the losers had to battle back.

“I’m so unbelievably excited. I’m back home in California, family and friends get to come out and watch the sport, and that’s so important to me,” Claes said. “They’ve always got my back, to hear them in the crowd makes me happy, it just pumps me up, and makes me play even harder. I’m so excited to be here, and I’m excited to take it all the way.”

Ross and Klineman, who opened the AVP season with a win in Austin, dealt similar cards to Day and Flint, beating them 21-11, 21-16.

“We were expecting a battle, we came out firing on all cylinders as much as we could,” Ross said. “We take that team so seriously and have so much respect for them. We’ve worked on a lot of stuff since (FIVB) Moscow, with the new things that we’ve been exposed to, and I think it showed in that match. We’re a little bit more cohesive on side out and on defense. We’re really happy with it.”

Day and Flint — who won AVP Seattle and AVP San Francisco — came back to beat Geena Urango and Allie Wheeler in the contenders bracket 23-21, 21-17, while Larsen and Stockman got past Corinne Quiggle and Kimberly Smith 21-15, 21-16.

Dalhausser and Lucena had to battle past Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick 19-21, 21-19, 15-12 in a match that took an hour, 7 minutes.

“They served real tough in the first two sets, and then they started missing. That took a little pressure of us, and I was able to get on a roll blocking,” Dalhausser said.

“It definitely makes you more battle-ready, if you will, if you had some close ones during the tournament. Otherwise, if you don’t have any close ones, you’re really not used to it. You could put a spin on anything, but if you just cruise I could say, ‘Oh well, we’re fresh going into the semis.’ There’s pros and cons to everything.

“We’re a little choppy, we’re not very smooth. Hopefully we can smooth it out tomorrow and and get out of here with another MB win.”

Dalhausser and Lucena won AVP Austin and AVP New York City.

“After Hawai’i, we’re just going to shut it down,” Dalhausser said of the newly added September tournament. “We’ve been training since January, and to play all the way through October, that’s way too much playing, just way too much. We’re going to shut it down, and it starts again in February in Fort Lauderdale. That gives us a good three-and-a-half to four-month break from tournament play. It should be a good enough break.”

Gibb and Crabb, who won AVP Seattle, beat Brunner and Hyden in their only match of the day, bouncing back nicely in the third 21-13, 18-21, 15-6.

“They’re a really good team,” Crabb said. “Every time we’ve played them this year it’s gone to three. We knew they would come back, change some things, and play better. We just had to regroup for the third.

“We got back to hitting our serves harder, more aggressively. We let up a little in the second, and Theo made some great blocking moves. I set Jake a little better in the third and that helped a lot.”

Gibb and Crabb, who won AVP Seattle, beat Brunner and Hyden in their only match of the day, bouncing back nicely in the third 21-13, 18-21, 15-6.

Casebeer and Priddy won three elimination matches Saturday, beating Chase Budinger and Sean Rosenthal 21-11, 21-4, Tim Bomgren and Chaim Schalk 20-22, 22-20, 16-14, and then Patterson and Slick 26-24, 17-21, 15-12 in a match that lasted an hour, 21 minutes.

Hyden and Brunner, who won the last AVP event, Hermosa Beach, beat Ed Ratledge and Roberto Rodriguez 21-12, 16-21, 15-13. Ratledge and Rodriguez earlier put an end to Tri Bourne’s comeback weekend, ousting him and Trevor Crabb in a hard-fought, 1-hour, 14-minute 21-15, 18-21, 16-14 victory.

Men’s winners bracket
Round 4
Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) def. Casey Patterson/Stafford Slick (5) 19-21, 21-19, 15-12 (1:07)
Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb (3) def. Theo Brunner/John Hyden (2) 21-13, 18-21, 15-6 (0:53)
Men’s contenders bracket
Men’s contenders bracket
Round 3

Ed Ratledge/Roberto Rodriguez (7) def. Troy Field/Chase Frishman (15) 20-22, 21-17, 15-11 (1:05)
Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb (11) def. Mark Burik/Ian Satterfield (14) 21-15, 21-19 (0:41)
Billy Allen/Ryan Doherty (4) def. Piotr Marciniak/Eric Zaun (12) 21-16, 21-11 (0:32)
Chase Budinger/Sean Rosenthal (8) def. Duncan Budinger/Daniel Dalanhese (18) 16-21, 21-18, 17-15 (1:17)
Round 4
Ed Ratledge/Roberto Rodriguez (7) def. Michael Brunsting/Ty Loomis (13) 21-14, 20-22, 15-12 (1:13)
Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb (11) def. Avery Drost/John Mayer (9) 21-19, 18-21, 15-10 (1:04)
Tim Bomgren/Chaim Schalk (10) def. Billy Allen/Ryan Doherty (4) 21-19, 22-20 (0:45)
Jeremy Casebeer/Reid Priddy (6) def. Chase Budinger/Sean Rosenthal (8) 21-11, 21-14 (0:40) Round 5
Ed Ratledge/Roberto Rodriguez (7) def. Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb (11) 21-15, 18-21, 16-14 (1:14) Jeremy Casebeer/Reid Priddy (6) def. Tim Bomgren/Chaim Schalk (10) 20-22, 22-20, 16-14 (1:22) Round 6
Theo Brunner/John Hyden (2) def. Ed Ratledge/Roberto Rodriguez (7) 21-12, 16-21, 15-13 (0:50)
Jeremy Casebeer/Reid Priddy (6) def. Casey Patterson/Stafford Slick (5) 24-26, 21-17, 15-12 (1:21)
Men’s semifinals
Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) vs.  Theo Brunner/John Hyden (2)
Jeremy Casebeer/Reid Priddy (6) vs. Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb (3)      Round 4
Women’s winners bracket
Kelly Claes/Brittany Hochevar (1) def. Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman (5) 21-13, 26-24 (0:49)
Alix Klineman/April Ross (3) def. Emily Day/Betsi Flint (2) 21-11, 21-16 (0:43)
Women’s contenders bracket
Round 3
Amanda Dowdy/Irene Pollock (7) def. Falyn Fonoimoana/Priscilla Piantadosi-Lima (18, Q2) 21-14, 21-16 (0:42)
Ali McColloch/Kendra VanZwieten (12) def. Aurora Davis/Bree Scarbrough (13) 21-12, 21-18 (0:46)
Corinne Quiggle/Kimberly Smith (20, Q4) def. Emily Hartong/Alexa Strange (22, Q6) 21-17, 21-15 (0:36)
Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler (8) def. Delaney Knudsen/Jessica Sykora (17, Q1) 21-14, 21-14 (0:40) Round 4
Amanda Dowdy/Irene Pollock (7) def. Nicole Branagh/Caitlin Ledoux (4) 21-17, 21-18 (0:43)
Geena Urango/Allie Wheeler (9) def. Ali McColloch/Kendra VanZwieten (12) 19-21, 21-18, 15-10 (1:08)
Corinne Quiggle/Kimberly Smith (20, Q4) def. Brittany Howard/Kelly Reeves (10) 21-16, 22-20 (0:46)
Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler (8) def. Janelle Allen/Kerri Schuh (11) 21-15, 21-18 (0:39)
Round 5
Geena Urango/Allie Wheeler (9) def. Amanda Dowdy/Irene Pollock (7) 21-11, 21-12 (0:42)
Corinne Quiggle/Kimberly Smith (20, Q4) def. Karissa Cook/Katie Spieler (8) 8-21, 21-14, 15-12 (0:49)
Round 6
Emily Day/Betsi Flint (2) def. Geena Urango/Allie Wheeler (9) 23-21, 21-17 (0:47)
Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman (5) def. Corinne Quiggle/Kimberly Smith (20, Q4) 21-15, 21-16 (0:36)
Women’s semifinals
Kelly Claes/Brittany Hochevar (1) vs. Emily Day/Betsi Flint (2)
Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman (5) vs. Alix Klineman/April Ross (3)   

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