Many in the pro beach-volleyball world were anticipating the Saturday-morning AVP New York contenders match featuring Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena playing Casey Patterson and Theo Brunner. It never happened, since top seeds Dalhausser and Lucena withdrew due to a new arrival in the Lucena family.
However, when the cat’s away, the mice will play, and there was plenty of spirited action, not the least of which was Sean Rosenthal bouncing a ball off the New York pier sand into the Hudson River. The play was dubbed the “New York wristaway Hudson River bounce” by livestream announcer and AVP pro Tri Bourne.
And when Saturday’s action was finished, here are Sunday’s semifinals:
For the men, fourth-seeded Trevor Crabb and Rosenthal will play sixth-seeded Billy Allen and Stafford Slick, while Trevor’s brother, Taylor, and Jake Gibb, the second seed, face Ricardo Santos and Chaim Schalk, who have come out of the qualifier.
The women’s semifinals have red-hot Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat, the fifth seed, playing third-seeded Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman and top-seeded Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar facing second-seeded Lauren Fendrick and April Ross.
Rosenthal and Trevor Crabb were playing Santos and Schalk when Rosenthal dug a ball on the right side. Crabb gave him a straight up set in the middle. The athletic Rosenthal, came flying into the middle, turned the ball inside-out towards the line, and crushed a booming spike into the sand, bouncing out of the court into the Hudson.
Crabb and Rosenthal took the easy path to the semifinals in their 24-22, 21-17 win over Santos and Schalk. Likewise, Taylor Crabb and Gibb booked their semifinal spot with a 21-17, 23-21 win over Eric Zaun and Ed Ratledge.
Santos and Schalk then reached the semifinals with a 19-21, 21-14, 15-13 emotional win over Theo Brunner and Casey Patterson. The last point of the match was the best point, as Schalk dug a Patterson screamer, then was roofed by Brunner, but Santos came up with the cover. Patterson dug the overpass, and Brunner rifled it down the middle on two, but Schalk was right there, dug it, and transitioned it onto the line for the win, leaving Santos lying face up in the New York sand emotionally spent.
“We had a great match with Patterson and Brunner,” Schalk said. We gave everything we had and made some big plays to finish. We both need some good recovery time tonight before our semifinal match tomorrow.”
Allen and Slick seized the second contender’s bracket semifinal spot with a 23-21, 21-10 win over Marty Lorenz and Ty Loomis, and two nearly identical comeback wins, 13-21, 21-19, 15-12 over Ryan Doherty and John Hyden, and 17-21, 21-19, 15-12 over Zaun and Ratledge. Slick and Allen have now won four consecutive matches since dropping their first round match Friday to Zaun and Ratledge.
The last set of the last match of the day may have been the most memorable, as both Allen and Slick and Zaun and Ratledge went point for point to 10-10, nearly all of the points first-ball-sideouts. The 40-year-old Ratledge looked gassed at that point, but 23-year-old Zaun drew first blood pounding a deep middle jump serve for an 11-10 ace.
The Slick block scored his first block of the match for 12-11, and later served a tough jump float in the New York winds that caused a tight pass for an easy block to reach 14-12. Allen followed that up with a dig of Ratledge’s line swing, and executed a high line over Ratledge to reach the semifinals by a score of 15-12.
“This felt like an especially deep tournament,” Allen said. “We had tough matches the whole way and had to battle against everyone. The AVP put on a great event, and the place was packed with fans, although they were mostly rooting against us.”
And Dalhausser-Lucena? Lucena’s wife, former pro Brooke Niles, who coached Florida State last month while very pregnant, went into labor and the pair withdrew. No word yet on the Lucenas’ second child.
Ross and Sweat, who lost in last weekend’s FIVB Moscow, enjoyed two straight set wins over Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes (22-20, 21-14) and Day and Hochevar 21-13, 21-12.
“I just think we played really smooth volleyball,” Sweat said. “It was really windy down there, so we were really focused on our pass and set. Summer really picked up her blocking and made some nice decisions up there and funneled the ball to me. I felt like we were really on the same page today. It felt good to get a win like that today.”
Fendrick and April Ross had two straight set victories over Karolina Marciniak and Kendra VanZwieten (21-17, 21-17) and DiCello and Stockman (21-16, 21-19).
DiCello and Stockman, however, made it back to the semifinals by downing surprise quarterfinalist and No. 8 seed Caitlin Ledoux and Heather McGuire 21-16, 19-21, 15-13.
“Emily and I had a great time competing today,” DiCello said. “We did a lot of great things on the court today and we have some specific things we’re excited to improve upon tomorrow.
“The semifinals are a great opportunity for us to compete against the best and continue growing and building as a team.”
Top-seeded Day and Hochevar rebounded from their loss to defeat fourth-seeded Betsi Flint and Kelley Larsen 25-23, 15-21, 15-10.
The semifinals will be streamed on www.avp.com/live, while the finals will be broadcast on Sunday on NBC at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.