Much to the surprise of, well, no one, April Ross and Alix Klineman and Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena rolled into into Sunday’s AVP Porsche Cup semifinals in Long Beach, California.

Neither team lost a set.

Ross and Klineman defeated Kenzie Ponnet and Sheila Shaw (21-15, 21-19) and Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil (21-17, 21-15). Dalhausser and Lucena beat Miles Evans and Ricardo Santos (21-16, 21-12) and Chase Budinger and Chaim Schalk (21-18, 21-16).

It guarantees that both teams will get the top bonus pool prize of $25,000 after their Monster Hydro and Wilson Cup wins. Second place will receive $15,000, third $10,000. Sunday’s action wraps up three consecutive AVP weekends, the only pro beach volleyball of the summer.

“I’m very grateful for the bonus pool,” Ross said, “It was so cool that the AVP included that for the players this year. It was definitely something Alix and I had our eye on and to clinch it today was very exciting.

“Now we can just focus on the rest of the tournament and doing our best to get that Porsche Cup.”

Dalhausser and Lucena, both 40 years of age, seem to be re-energized by the break from international travel and the ability to spend time with their families. The team has moved through the AVP Champions Cup field with surprising ease.

Dalhausser acknowledges their high level of play.

“I think Nick and I are playing at a pretty high level right now.

“We are siding out well and putting a lot of pressure on teams with our serves.”

Lucena credits Dalhausser.

“Phil’s pressure with his serve has been huge for us and our block and defense has been really good.

“Other than that, I think having only to focus on three events, in the same location, where we don’t have to hop on a plane right away helps.”

AVP Porsche Cup 8/1/2020-Kenzie Ponnet-Mackenzie Ponnet
Kenzie Ponnet passes a line serve/Mpu Dinani, AVP

There were a couple of surprises Sunday as Ponnet and Shaw continued strong after getting out of Friday’s qualifier. Saturday, they beat Emily Day and Lauren Fendrick in the contenders bracket (15-21, 21-17, 15-11) to make their first Sunday of the three-week tournament.

Just a week earlier they lost their first-round qualifying match to Corinne Quiggle and Allie Wheeler. What a difference a week makes. Ponnet and Shaw are now sitting in fifth place despite a penchant for dropping the first set, having lost four of five first sets this weekend.

“I’m really proud of our team today. We battled, made mid-game adjustments, and executed those adjustments which can be difficult not having a coach. But also we just went out on the court, played free, and had fun,” Ponnet said.

“We are excited to make it to championship Sunday and play more volleyball. We aren’t finished yet.”

Ponnet and Shaw face Kelley Kolinske and Emily Stockman at 9 a.m. Pacific Sunday. That match and all the others will be shown on Amazon Prime.

Speaking of which, another surprise Saturday was sixth-seeded Kolinske and Stockman sending third-seeded Sara Hughes and Brandie Wilkerson to Sunday’s contenders bracket (21-18, 21-13). Stockman played superb transition defense throughout, with 20 digs and 22 kills, leading all players with a .513 percentage.

Kolinske and Stockman were unable to follow through, losing to Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes (21-16, 21-18).

“Emily and I were dialed into our game plan our first match. We stayed aggressive throughout the match and made big defensive plays and had a lot of momentum that first match,” Kolinske said. “We are fired up and ready to battle tomorrow morning.”

Trevor Crabb and Tri Bourne defeated Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb (21-17, 21-18) with a powerful display of clean, high-percentage volleyball. Bourne hit .526 and Trevor .357, while Taylor and Gibb hit .194.

Bourne and Trevor lost to Gibb and Taylor in each of the previous two weekends. They finished third in both events, coming out of the contenders bracket. This is the first time they’ve reached the semifinals out of the Champions Cup winners bracket.

“We played all around great volleyball today,” Trevor said. “I was impressed with our defense as we put ourselves in good positions to make plays. We also toughened up our serving from last week which helped us make plays on defense.”

AVP Porsche Cup 8/1/2020-Trevor Crabb
Trevor Crabb blocks a Jake Gibb cut shot/Mpu Dinani, AVP

FIVB Ljubljana — Also this weekend is the one-star in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Sunday’s men’s semifinals pit the hometown team of Tadej Bozenk and Vid Jakopin, the sixth seed, against the fourth-seed Italian pair of  Andrea Abbiati and Tiziano Andreatta; and all-Austria battle when the No. 2 seeds, Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst face third-seeded Christoph Dressler and Alexander Huber.

On the women’s side, the seeds certainly did not hold true. Ninth-seeded Line Hansen and Clara Windeleff of Denmark face No. 12-seeded Varvara Brailko and Anete Namike, while third-seeded Sofia Bisgaard and Celilie Olsen of Denmark play seventh-seeded Sarah Cools and Lisa Van Den Vonder of Belgium.

AVP Champions Cup

Winners bracket
Round 1
Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) def. Miles Evans/Ricardo Santos (8, Q3) 21-16, 21-12 (0:42)
Chase Budinger/Chaim Schalk (5) def. Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson (4) 19-21, 22-20, 15-13 (1:07)
Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb (3) def. Jeremy Casebeer/John Hyden (6) 24-22, 21-14 (0:52)
Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb (2) def. Billy Allen/Stafford Slick (7, Q1) 21-17, 21-15 (0:41)
Round 2
Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) def. Chase Budinger/Chaim Schalk (5) 21-18, 21-16 (0:45)
Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb (3) def. Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb (2) 21-17, 21-18 (0:47)
Contenders bracket
Round 1
Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson (4) def. Miles Evans/Ricardo Santos (8, Q3) 18-21, 22-20, 15-10 (1:06)
Billy Allen/Stafford Slick (7, Q1) def. Jeremy Casebeer/John Hyden (6) 21-18, 22-20 (0:56)
Round 2
Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb (2) vs. Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson (4)
Chase Budinger/Chaim Schalk (5) vs. Billy Allen/Stafford Slick (7, Q1)
Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (1) vs. TBD
Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb (3) vs. TBD
Winners bracket
Round 1
Alix Klineman/April Ross (1) def. Mackenzie Ponnet/Sheila Shaw (8, Q6) 21-15, 21-19 (0:45)
Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil (4) def. Emily Day/Lauren Fendrick (5) 24-22, 21-8 (0:42)
Kelley Kolinske/Emily Stockman (6) def. Sara Hughes/Brandie Wilkerson (3) 21-18, 21-13 (0:42)
Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan (2) def. Traci Callahan/Crissy Jones (7, Q1) 21-15, 21-16 (0:43)
Round 2
Alix Klineman/April Ross (1) def. Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil (4) 21-17, 21-15 (0:48)
Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan (2) def. Kelley Kolinske/Emily Stockman (6) 21-16, 21-18
Contenders bracket
Round 1
Mackenzie Ponnet/Sheila Shaw (8, Q6) def. Emily Day/Lauren Fendrick (5) 15-21, 21-17, 15-11
Sara Hughes/Brandie Wilkerson (3) def. Traci Callahan/Crissy Jones (7, Q1) 16-21, 22-20, 15-7
Round 2
Mackenzie Ponnet/Sheila Shaw (8, Q6) vs. Kelley Kolinske/Emily Stockman (6)
Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil (4) vs. Sara Hughes/Brandie Wilkerson (3)
Alix Klineman/April Ross (1) vs. TBD
Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan (2) vs. TBD


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