Maddison McKibbin stuff blocked Stafford Slick to end AVP San Francisco and then put the punctuation on the post-match celebration Sunday afternoon by spiking his bottle of champagne into the sand.
McKibbin and partner Ty Loomis took the men’s title, while earlier Betsi Flint and Kelley Larsen won the women’s. Flint and Larsen were happy after they crushed Lane Carico and Alix Klineman 21-13, 21-8, but they were sedate compared to McKibbin and Loomis.
They beat Billy Allen and ailing Stafford Slick in the final 24-22, 21-19. The match was exciting as the score would seem, especially the second set, because McKibbin and Loomis built a 20-17 lead that almost evaporated with the serve-scoring score-freeze rule in effect. But finally they won on McKibbin’s monster block, one of the four he scored in the match.
The AVP title was the first overall for McKibbin, 26, and the first for Loomis, 38, since 2009.
“This is just as good,” Loomis said when comparing this victory to his last, eight years ago. “One-hundred percent. I’m just so grateful.
“I’ve played for like 16 years now. I think I played for 13, retired for a few, came back with a greater appreciation for the game. I just want to stay in the moment, get a few more beautiful journeys under my belt, travel the world, hang out with all my friends I’ve met over the years.”
Earlier Sunday, top-seeded Allen and Slick, with Slick dealing with an apparent abdominal-muscle strain, had a remarkable comeback in the third set to beat seventh-seeded Reid Priddy and Ricardo Santos 24-22, 20-22, 16-14. They were down 14-10 in third. Allen and Slick advanced to their third AVP final in a row, after finishing second in New York and winning Seattle.
In the other men’s semifinal, fifth-seeded Loomis, who played at UC Irvine, and McKibbin, the USC product, made short work of third-seeded Ed Ratledge and Eric Zaun 21-11, 21-16.
Top-seeded Flint and Larsen knocked out third-seeded Jennifer Fopma and Kelly Reeves in the semifinals 16-21, 21-18, 15-8, while fifth-seeded Carico and Klineman ousted fourth-seeded Angela Bensend and Geena Urango 21-16, 21-16.
“It feels awesome,” Flint said. “We’ve been grinding and we’ve been in a couple finals and lost a couple times. We’ve been on a mission, ready to win. Alix and Lane played great all tournament and we were ready for some payback because they beat us earlier on.”
Flint, the 24-year-old product of Loyola Marymount, and the 25-year-old Larsen, who played at Pepperdine, last took gold when they won AVP Cincinnati in 2015.
“It just didn’t seem like we could get things going,” Klineman told the SF Examiner about the final. “We know they’re a really solid team, so the fact that they played like that doesn’t really surprise me. I just wish we could have matched their level a little bit better.”
Many of the top players were not in San Francisco, since it coincided with FIVB Gstaad. The pro-beach world moves to Long Beach, Calif., next week for the FIVB President’s Cup and the start of the NVL season.
The next AVP stop is in two weeks in Hermosa Beach. After that, two AVP tournaments remain, August 17-20 for the famed Manhattan Beach Open, and then August 31-September 3 in Chicago.