Crabb-Gibb win AVP Chicago

Jake Gibb And Taylor Crabb Win Chicago in Dominant Fashion


Taylor Crabb isn’t one to use an abundance of words. Not because he’s disrespectful. He’s just reticent. Let’s his play speak for him. Or his partner.

When, after a semifinal win over Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson, Dain Blanton asked Crabb and Jake Gibb a question in a post-match interview, Crabb demurred, and Blanton expanded upon the question to fill the silence. Gibb stepped in, of course, because he’s a pro at this sort of thing by now. And besides, he knows that, of Crabb’s many talents, a TV interview is not a high priority.

And yet it was Crabb who grabbed the mic when Blanton asked about the impending final at AVP Chicago, against the team that always makes for the most anticipated matchup: Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena.

“A month ago,” he said, “we were the number one seed. We come back and we’re number two. That doesn’t sit well with us.”

Evidently it did not.

The first set was vintage Gibb-Crabb vs. Dalhausser-Lucena, the best rivalry and matchup on the men’s side all season long. A 21-19, back-and-forth, seesaw battle, one that was reminiscent of the match that bookended Saturday’s play, a stadium court brawl that went 15-11 in the third set, to Dalhausser and Lucena.

“That,” Blanton said, repeatedly, “was the best match of the weekend.”

The final was, surprisingly, not. Or maybe it’s not surprising that the score of the second set wound up as lopsided as it did, a 21-10 shellacking to give them their second consecutive win in the Windy City.

As Crabb said: Dropping a spot didn’t sit too well with him. Their coach, Rich Lambourne, has lightly criticized his team for being such slow starters, both in matches and in tournaments, all season long.

They won in Huntington Beach, but did so by fighting through three contender’s bracket rounds and four matches that went three sets. They won Austin, but did so after losing their first match of the tournament to a team, Paul Lotman and Gabe Ospina, who had come out of the qualifier.

They get better as tournaments go on, as matches go on. Maybe it’s because they’re slow starters or maybe it’s because Crabb just has a different mode that he, and few others in the world, can reach. Sometimes that takes an early loss to engage that mode.

Or, on Labor Day weekend at Oak Street Beach, a drop in seed.

They did what they do best on Sunday: They grinded. The quarterfinal loss to Dalhausser and Lucena meant three matches rather than two to win their third 2019 title. Each match went the same way: Close first set, comfortable second.

A 26-24 first-set win in the quarterfinals over Maddison and Riley McKibbin became a 21-18 second set. A 22-20 first-set win over Patterson and Budinger turned to a 21-15 second-set victory.

Few would have predicted the same to happen in the finals, against Dalhausser and Lucena. Six of their previous eight matches had gone three sets. So when Crabb and Gibb won the first, 21-19, it would have been right for many to assume a Dalhausser-Lucena rebound in the second. They also would have assumed wrong.

Crabb and Gibb turned it up one final time in Chicago, turning in a 21-10 second-set win, their biggest margin of victory since Huntington Beach, the first event of the season. Crabb out-dug Lucena 17-7. He and Gibb combined for just four hitting errors compared to nine from Dalhausser and Lucena. They more than doubled their hitting percentage.

A win as dominant as that needs to words.

Just the way Crabb likes it.