The AVP –- and FIVB –- partner dance continues.
When Jake Gibb broke his toe before the Austin Open, it forced Taylor Crabb to pick up an emergency partner in Tim Bomgren, who typically plays with his brother, Brian. But with Brian out with an injury, Tim was left available, either for Curt Toppel, with whom he had taken a fifth in Hermosa –- or Crabb.
With Toppel, Bomgren would have been relegated to the qualifier. With Crabb, he’d not only be well inside the main draw, but playing alongside one of the best defenders in the country, if not the world.
Crabb it was.
With just one practice under their belts, the two made the final last weekend at AVP Austin, though Crabb, understandably, returned to Gibb, a three-time Olympian with whom he won two AVPs in 2017, for New York on June 6-9 and presumably the remainder of the season.
Which left Bomgren back on the table, at the same time that another top-flight partnership, Eric Zaun and Ed Ratledge, was undergoing a little friction. Though Zaun was awarded the Rookie of the Year in 2017, and Ratledge enjoyed arguably the finest season of his career, the two were knocked out in three matches in Huntington Beach and rebounded for a seventh in Austin.
A change seemed inevitable, just as it did with Brazilians Alison and Bruno, who also announced a split from a storied and decorated partnership, and on Wednesday evening it proved as such: Zaun will be playing AVP New York with Tim Bomgren.
“My uncle Larry once told me ‘When the meat is hot, keep it in the oven,'” Zaun said. “Tim is hot right now and I’m looking to jump in the oven with him.”
“Definitely looking forward to playing with Eric,” Bomgren said. “He’s had some excellent success with another lefty, like myself, and he’s an explosive defender which should help us earn our share of points. I think it also goes without saying that he brings a well rounded game to the table and I think we should be able to mesh immediately on the court.”
Where the dominoes fall from here is, of course, anybody’s guess. After New York there will likely be another shuffle, and another after that, as it seems to go with beach volleyball, though that’s hardly limited to the United States.
Alison and Bruno, despite being one of the top teams on the planet since 2015, despite winning an Olympic gold in 2016, had struggles of their own, missing out on a podium in six of their past eight events, including a 17th in Huntington Beach, their worst finish since June of 2015.