There is exactly one 43-year-old on the planet who, in the immediate moments after a long tournament in November, his 17th of the season, wishes for 10 more tournaments.
That person is Jake Gibb, and it’s actually hard to blame him, to tell you the truth. He asked for those tournaments after winning the FIVB Chetumal four-star in Mexico with Taylor Crabb on Sunday, his first international win since 2015, in St. Petersburg with Casey Patterson.
“I wish there were 10 more tournaments right now because we’re actually playing really well right now,” Gibb said after he and Crabb beat the Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, 21-16, 16-21, 15-12, to end the FIVB season. “I gotta thank this kid for believing in me and sticking with me. The older I get the more court he covers.”
The women’s gold went to Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy of Australia, who defeated China’s Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia 15-21, 21-14, 15-12. Germany’s Madelein Meppelink and Sanne Keizer won bronze by forfeit over Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima due to a back injury sustained by Lima.
Crabb was his usual electrifying self. There is no mistaking that, just as there is no mistaking the enormous swaths of real estate he can cover on the court. Yet for as much ground as Crabb can and will cover in the backcourt, it was Gibb’s presence at the net, in the third set in particular, that made the difference. It was Gibb who optioned on a Crabb dig to tie it, 9-9, in the third. It was Gibb who blocked Meeuwsen on the ensuing point, out of a timeout, to grab a lead they would not relinquish.
It was Gibb who hit a perfect line shot at 10-10, when anything less than perfect wouldn’t have gone down. It was Gibb, again, who put a Meeuwsen swing down to take a 13-11 lead, just as it was the blocker from Bountiful, Utah, who buried a critical angle swing to extend it to 14-12.
By that point the damage had been done. For all of the offensive success that Meeuwsen had in the second set — and he did have quite a lot, it must be noted — it was coming undone in the third. What Gibb didn’t block, Crabb likely touched. And so Meeuwsen swung higher on match point, deeper. Too high. Too deep. Just a few inches out of bounds.
There Crabb and Gibb had it: Their first FIVB medal of any kind. May as well make it a gold.
“It feels amazing,” Crabb said. “We’ve battled so hard for the past three years and to get this, especially on the last tournament of the year, in an Olympic qualifying year, I mean, it means the world to us. I wouldn’t ask for any other partner to do it with.”
His former partner, older brother Trevor, did something similar two hours prior. He and Tri Bourne were in the bronze medal match against Germans Alex Walkenhorst and Sven Winter, whom Gibb and Taylor Crabb beat the evening before to advance to the finals.
The script would go much the same. Bourne and Crabb left no doubt, winning 21-16, 21-12, earning their first medal since a gold in the Qinzhou three-star more than a year ago, the first international event of their partnership.
“It’s awesome,” Trevor Crabb said. “We’re both getting our first four-star medals at the same time. It’s pretty special.”