FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — He couldn’t.
Thought Trevor Crabb couldn’t get any bolder, any louder, any brasher than he has been in the past? Thought his run-in with Reid Priddy, his guaranteed win at the Porsche Cup, another guarantee in Manhattan, had quieted him down? Sated his diet for self-induced pressure?
Less than a week before AVP Fort Lauderdale, Crabb declared to the world, via Instagram, that he and Tri Bourne would leave Florida with “nothing but first place. Slap a guarantee on dat ass.”
How bold was this one? Just days prior to his social media proclamation, Bourne and Crabb bowed out in ninth in a Volleyball World Challenger event in Espinho, Portugal, losing an ugly, lopsided match to Italians Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi, 21-16, 21-13. That match wasn’t an exception, but more the norm for this season, a proxy for how the past four months have gone in 2022. It has been a year that hasn’t included a single quarterfinal in six events the World Tour, results that have sent their ranking plummeting from the top 10 down to 30.
There was, really, little tangible handhold for Crabb to latch onto for this guarantee. He and Bourne had, as Bourne has readily admitted, “a crap year” prior to this weekend.
Meanwhile, their biggest rivals on the AVP, Chaim Schalk and Theo Brunner? They were the hottest team in the country, finishing fourth at the World Championships and following it up with a win in Hermosa Beach — a victory made possible by a sweep over Bourne and Crabb in the seventh-place match. Schalk then followed that up with a gold at the Vancouver Open with Troy Field, ballooning his prize winnings to $26,000 in a matter of three tournaments.
And the coldest team in the United States, the one many expected — wanted — to break up in the near future, was guaranteeing a victory?
And they were saying it out loud?
“It’s just that feeing when you know you’re going to win,” Crabb said. “Honestly, before the tournament started, it was already over.”
He’s not one to mince words, Crabb. And, true to his words, unbelievably, impossibly, somewhat hilariously, he backed it up yet again, winning his third AVP tournament on his third guaranteed victory, as he and Bourne swept Schalk and Brunner in the finals, 23-21, 21-14, winning every set in Fort Lauderdale en route to their first victory of the season.
“My guy tells me what to do and I go do it,” Bourne said afterwards. “You gotta have your guy’s back.”
They have fully embraced their role as the AVP’s villains. Crabb has long since established himself as the leading antagonist on the AVP, without a doubt the loudest and most voluminous trash talker on Tour. Prior to Fort Lauderdale, Bourne had only lightly dipped his toes in it. But in the aftermath of their victory, they soaked it up.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do tonight,” Bourne said, “because we already celebrated last night.”
He’s got his guy’s back, all right. The ‘last night’ he was referencing was a player party on Saturday evening promoted by the Crabb brothers themselves, despite the fact that they were both playing Sunday morning. Whether they popped champagne or Konas or whiskey, who knows. What is known is this: Their confidence, the fuel on which this team runs, which had been dangerously low, is back in full.
“I’ll be [guaranteeing another win] next week in Atlanta, too,” Crabb said. “We’re not going to lose a set again either.”
If it were anyone but Crabb saying those words, it would be easy to confuse him for a heretic. In Fort Lauderdale, six of the 10 sets they played were decided by just two points. In their first match of the tournament, against me and JM Plummer, they were down 14-18 in the second set before ultimately prevailing, 22-20. Both sets against Logan Webber and John Hyden went 21-19, as did both sets of their semifinal against Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander. The first set against Schalk and Brunner finished 23-21, despite Bourne and Crabb building a 15-10 lead.
But it is Crabb who said those words, and at this point, when it’s Crabb or Bourne on the microphone or the megaphone that is social media, there is little that could seem all that bold anymore.
Can Crabb make it a fourth consecutive guaranteed victory next weekend in Atlanta? Possibly. But the road will not be easy. Returning to play with Phil Dalhausser is Casey Patterson, the AVP New Orleans champs, after the 42-year-old became a father of five this past week and skipped Fort Lauderdale to stay at home. Schalk and Brunner will be there, as will Chase Budinger and Troy Field, Crabb and Sander, Miles Partain and Paul Lotman — all teams consistently pushing for an AVP victory, all who finished in the top five this weekend.
That, of course, is a problem for next week. For now, Bourne and Crabb will celebrate, evidently for the second time this weekend.
“You can’t take it for granted to be out here to write your name in the history books and get an AVP win,” Bourne said.
You might not be able to take it for granted.
But if you’re Trevor Crabb, you can guarantee it.
Click here for the complete results from AVP Fort Lauderdale, courtesy of BVBinfo.com.