The clouds of Thursday through Saturday gave way to cloudless skies as the semifinals began Sunday at AVP Seattle.
The perfect weather made for a great day for the second-seeded teams as Betsi Flint and Emily Day and Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb hoisted the first-place trophies.
Flint and Day won their first tournament together in dramatic fashion over April Ross and Caitlin Ledoux, 21-19, 19-21, 18-16, in a match that lasted an hour, 15 minutes.
Gibb and Crabb played immaculate volleyball in a rematch of the AVP New York final two weeks ago against Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, reversing their fortune with a 21-16, 21-19 win.
The women’s final was up first, featuring a third set with four lead changes and 13 minutes of extra play after the freeze. Both teams had five match points before a short serve to Ledoux’s line sealed the championship.
Day and Flint had to absorb the brunt of aggressive serving, particularly from Ross, who is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s best servers.
“It’s hard to be in system,” said Flint in a post-match Amazon Prime Video interview, “Emily was handling April’s serve really well. You don’t want April back there serving championship point. She has a really tough serve.”
Day sided out consistently throughout, earning points largely on the hard angle spike.
“It’s so much fun,” Day said. “I love to shoot, but especially being aggressive, here in the finals, is a lot of fun.”
This was Day’s seventh domestic win and Flint’s third after only five tournaments together (three FIVB, two AVP).
They didn’t have much time to celebrate, since they flew out Sunday evening to Warsaw, Poland, for the four-star FIVB event that starts Wednesday.
Caitlin Ledoux made the most of her opportunity to play with two-time Olympic medalist April Ross. Ross’ partner, Alix Klineman, sat out to rest her shoulder. Ledoux’s second-place finish is her career best finishing third with Maria Clara Salgado at AVP Hermosa Beach in 2017. Their only losses were to Day and Flint in the third round Saturday (21-14, 24-22) and in Sunday’s final.
In the earlier semifinals, Day and Flint’s defense was too much for Amanda Dowdy and Irene Pollock as they cruised into the finals 21-16, 21-13. Day and Flint’s aggressive serving and steady side-out game never allowed Dowdy and Pollock to make any headway.
Ross and Ledoux’s earlier semifinal win over Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar was challenging. Ross and Ledoux sided out consistently, never allowing Claes and Hochevar to settle into a rhythm. Claes and Hochevar were able to make several runs at Ross and Ledoux, but ultimately Claes’ and Hochevar’s hitting errors were the difference in the 21-18, 21-17 outcome.
Crabb and Gibb played clean volleyball in the men’s final, with Crabb getting 15 kills with only three errors as he hit .579. That forced Dalhausser and Lucena to switch to serving Gibb, who had 12 kills and one hitting error for a .348 percentage.
Amazon Prime’s Camryn Irwin asked about the difference between the AVP New York and Seattle finals.
“Taylor’s play,” Gibb said. “I don’t know what his percentages were, but his side-out percentage was really high. He played at a really high level. I keep looking back and thinking, ‘He doesn’t have that one. Oh, wait, he does.’ He’s just so fun to play with, and I’m so proud of him.”
Gibb and Crabb are 6-0 after winning the first set.
“We don’t do anything special,” said Crabb. “We just stick to our game plan all game long.”
By contrast, Lucena littered the scoresheet with six hitting errors in the first set for a .000 hitting percentage, with five more in the second set to finish with a .147 percentage.
The win is Gibb’s 29th and Crabb’s third, following their previous wins in AVP New York and AVP Hermosa Beach in 2017. Crabb and Gibb have been in every AVP final this year, save Austin, where Gibb was sidelined with a broken toe, and Crabb made the final with Tim Bomgren.
The loss is the first domestic blemish for Dalhausser and Lucena, who went undefeated in both Austin and New York, losing only six sets in three tournaments.
Earlier Crabb and Gibb survived a tough test in their semifinal against No. 6 Reid Priddy and Jeremy Casebeer, 25-23, 21-15. Both Priddy and Casebeer served bullets in the first set, but ultimately steadied out in the second.
Dalhausser and Lucena reached the final with a 21-15, 21-15 win over second-seeded Theo Brunner and John Hyden. Brunner and Hyden were simply outplayed by Dalhausser and Lucena, who were incrementally better in all phases of the game during that match.
Gibb and Crabb are also headed to Poland, and then will play in Espinho, Portugal, and Gstaad, Switzerland, before returning to defend their title at AVP Hermosa Beach.
The finals will be shown on NBC Sports on at 4 p.m. Pacific on Tuesday. Full results can be found at BVBinfo.com.
The next AVP events is in San Francisco July 5-8.