Trevor Crabb, Reid Priddy Win First Career AVP Titles At The Grandaddy of Them All
Jose Loiola needed to know who was serving.
It didn’t so much matter what type of serve it would be, whether it was Reid Priddy’s top-spin scud missile that had earned him 15 aces prior to Sunday’s finals of the Manhattan Beach Open, or Trevor Crabb’s controlled float.
Whoever it was: All he needed the serve to do was to get on Casey Patterson’s line.
Two nods from Crabb and Priddy, up 20-19 in the second set of the Manhattan Beach finals against Patterson and Chase Budinger.
Next order of business: Who’s blocking?
All tournament long, Crabb and Priddy had split-blocked. It’s a normal assignment for Crabb, who has been split-blocking the entire season with Tri Bourne. Priddy hadn’t split-blocked since playing in the Huntington Beach qualifier with Chaim Schalk in 2017. Splitting was how they got there. Loiola and Crabb, though, knew it may be time.
“You running up?” Loiola, the team’s coach, asked Crabb.
Third, and final, order of business: Seal the swing.
Crabb told Priddy he had line turn and angle swing. All Priddy had to do was be ready to run down the shot.
Priddy wouldn’t need to run.
Loiola may as well have ordered the play on PostMates and had it delivered directly into Crabb’s right hand. There Crabb was, sealing the angle, blocking Patterson for the final point of perhaps the most unexpected Manhattan Beach partnership to be cemented onto the pier.
They laughed, when asked afterwards, what it meant to win this one together. It’s the first AVP victory for both, a victory that just so happened to be the biggest of them all, the tournament that etches themselves into beach volleyball lore.
“That’s something we dream of our whole lives, to be on the Manhattan Beach Pier,” Crabb said. “Greatest beach volleyball tournament of all time. I got no words right now.”
Yes, it is amusing that it is Crabb and Priddy on the pier together. Not Crabb and Bourne. Or Crabb and Crabb. Or Priddy and Brunner. Or Priddy and Casebeer. Amusing.
It was two years ago that one of the more indelible trash-talking moments in recent memory occurred.
Crabb closed a semifinal match against Priddy in similar fashion: A block for match point, sending he and Sean Rosenthal into the finals. Only Crabb told Priddy, then in his first full-time season on the beach, that he should return to indoor. Maybe this beach thing wasn’t for him.
So kicked off one of the sport’s more intriguing rivalries, though to be fair, most rivalries in beach volleyball at the time involved Crabb. But this one was different. More heated than the others.
All rivalries eventually cool. Pick your rivalry. They’ve all simmered: Bird and Magic, Nicklaus and Palmer, Tiger and Mickelson, McEnroe and Borg, Kobe and Shaq, Federer and Nadal.
Beach volleyball is no different.
Priddy reached out to Crabb earlier this year. Told him he respected not only his game, but fire as a competitor. All that 2017 stuff? Water under the bridge.
Not that anybody would have predicted they’d be on the same side of the net, split-blocking their way to their first victories as individuals, at the Manhattan Beach Open, no less. But when Tri Bourne broke his hand at the Vienna Major, and Priddy and Theo Brunner had sputtered in their partnership, teaming up seemed to be the most sensible idea there was.
It was funny, too, the vibe on the beach. Most everyone laughed at first, the low-hanging fruit too easy to resist. But the obvious jokes invariably preceded a shrug, and an acknowledgement that, holy cow, what a good team they could be.
What a good team they were.
Both finished in the top-six in aces. Both finished nearly above .500 in hitting percentage. Priddy closed third in digs. Crabb finished with the biggest block of the season.
As a team, they beat Phil Dalhausser, the first time Priddy has ever done so. As a team, they made a final, the first time Priddy has ever made it. As a team, they won, the first for either.
“It was awesome,” Priddy said. “We grinded it out and we just competed. That’s all of sports: Just grind it out and compete. I like playing with Trevor. I just think that we both grind. We both try hard and effort goes a long way.”
All the way into beach volleyball eternity.
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