First, the best women’s team in the world cashed in, ensuring that their names will live in Manhattan Beach Open history in the form of plaques on the pier, as Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes beat April Ross and Alix Klineman in a match for the ages 28-26, 16-21, 16-14.
And then Sunday, the veteran, 41-year-old indoor Olympian Reid Priddy, and Trevor Crabb, who formed a new partnership for this event, not only won their first AVP titles, but also will be immortalized with plaques on the pier.
Fourth-seeded Priddy and Crabb — who earlier scored a huge upset in the semifinals — got past second-seeded Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson 21-15, 21-19.
“I’m hurting. But I’m grateful,” said the 41-year-old Priddy, after getting his first win on the AVP tour. “There was a lot of prayer, a lot of meditation, and I just can’t believe we did it. It’s awesome.”
A three-time Olympian indoors, Priddy made the jump to the beach in 2017.
“We made a commitment this morning that I knew throughout this whole day we’ll always have the opportunity to either play it safe, or be aggressive, and we just said, ‘Let’s just be aggressive.’ I think that’s why we pulled it out.”
Crabb, previously 0-7 in AVP finals, was thrilled to finally get the monkey off his back.
“I’m so excited. This is the number one tournament, this is the one that everyone guns for, I was 0-7 in the finals before this, so to come out and get the first one in Manhattan, there’s nothing better.”
They got an exemption to play, but Pavan and Humana-Paredes were hardly the 11th seed. After all, this summer alone they’ve won three FIVB titles, including the gold medal at the FIVB World Championships in Vienna. They are currently ranked second in the FIVB rankings behind Ross and Klineman.
“Melissa and I grew up watching this event on TV,” Pavan said, “and it was always our dream to be able to play here.”
Although they compete for Canada, they live and train in Southern California.
“We’ve had a lot of battles with April and Alix, so we knew it would be tough, but to be able to play in this environment, and to be able to get our names on the pier, in a place that we now call home, is indescribable.”
In the semifinals, top-seeded Ross and Klineman beat another new team, fourth-seeded Sara Hughes and Canadian Brandie Wilkerson 21-16, 19-21, 15-12. Humana-Paredes and Pavan defeated the fifth-seeded team of Terese Cannon and Kelly Reeves 21-15, 21-16.
Crabb and Priddy stunned top-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena in the semis 21-12, 23-21, and Budinger and Patterson had to go three to oust qualifier upstarts Eric Beranek and Billy Kolinske 21-11, 20-22, 15-11.
“Man, it was the most memorable tournament I’ve ever had,” Kolinske said. “To have Eric with me, battling it out from the qualifier, is incredible.
“The fans were amazing, and this is what I kind of pictured, waiting to come back, and it was more than I ever expected.”
While Patterson is one of the more popular players on tour, the crowd was solidly behind the underdogs.
“I think people saw us over the week, saw us grinding through the qualifier, and we just kept fighting, we never gave up, we were on the brink of elimination many times, we just kept fighting,” Kolinske said.
If you missed any of our Manhattan Beach daily coverage, you can catch up here:
Pepe Delahoz, perhaps the unlikeliest MBO winner in 1998
MBO post-tournament photo gallery