AVP Seattle Day Three

AVP Seattle: Jeremy Casebeer, Chaim Schalk; Emily Stockman, Kelley Larsen Win First Team Titles

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It didn’t rain at Lake Sammamish this weekend. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. But goodness gracious did it pour, straight off the right arm of Jeremy Casebeer, or Acebeer, as he may well be known for the rest of the year.

Nine aces he rained down upon Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger in Sunday’s semifinals. And none of these were the hubby-wife variety, but bombs, a fussilade of missiles down the middle, down the line, down the other line, down wherever Casebeer wanted to score.

“That’s one of the best serving matches I’ve seen, really,” said Chaim Schalk, Casebeer’s partner and beneficiary of his run from the line. “Hats off to my partner. Took me for a good ride there.”

Nor was the ride over with a quick and simple 21-13, 21-19 semifinal win. A few hours later, with the two in their second final this season, he was at it again, pounding away against Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb.

Four aces. Eighteen kills. A hitting percentage of .750, more than 20 points higher than Gibb’s .533, respectable in its own right and second in the match. But it wasn’t on Casebeer’s level.

Nothing this weekend was on Casebeer’s level.

“It was just our gameplan,” Casebeer said after a 21-19, 21-18 finals win. “Both of us were coming out real aggressive, nice and loose. I think we both play way better that way. It all came together. It felt great.”

Vengeance typically does. It was only a month ago that Gibb and Crabb vanquished their chance at their first titles, beating them 21-16, 21-16 in the Austin finals.

“We were kinda stuck in our gameplan a little bit,” Schalk said.

Stuck no more.

On Friday afternoon, Schalk was watching a tight match between Billy Allen and Stafford Slick and Lev Priima and Jake Landel. He and Casebeer had been so close this season, he said, but the breakthrough just hadn’t been there. He felt it was time. Just a block here. A dig there.

An ace.

One, tiny thing.

Turns out, they got a full blown deluge of them, beginning from the service line, ending, you guessed it, with a Casebeer swing.

“It’s been a long road,” he said, “but had tons of support.”

It was the second breakthrough of the day. The first came, maybe differently, but just as decisively. Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman did not have the 13 aces of Casebeer. They had two.

But Stockman’s 17 digs in the finals against Betsi Flint and Emily Day? Larsen’s five blocks in the final two sets of the weekend?

Equally dominant. Just a different method of defense. It worked, too, and, if the scoreboard is any measure, it worked even better. Larsen and Stockman, playing in their first final as a team, won 21-17, 21-12.

“Everything,” Stockman said of the win’s meaning afterwards. “Been a long time. Kelley was awesome out there, made it easy to make defensive plays. I love Seattle.”

At the moment, it seems they love every site, domestic or international. Sunday’s final came a week after competing in a final on a bigger stage, at a four-star in Warsaw, Poland, which gave them enough points to jump into the No. 3 ranking in the U.S. They took silver, sure, but that three spot is as good as any gold: It puts them out of country quotas.

“Played some really good teams,” Larsen said. “We’re just taking it tournament by tournament. The Olympic run is a year and a half but it’s important to focus on each tournament.”

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