World Tour Finals: For Crabb and Gibb, a Podium ‘Would Mean Everything’
“It has been,” Jake Gibb admitted after a heartbreaking semifinal loss at the World Tour Finals to Germans Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler, “a few years since I’ve been on the podium.”
He’s practically built a house on one in America, Gibb. He and Crabb have played five AVP events, won three, finished second in another, and third in the other. Five tournaments, five podiums of the metaphorical variety, since the AVP doesn’t actually do the whole podium thing.
But on the World Tour, as surprising as it may sound, it has been more than four years since he’s come home with a medal. Nearly 1,500 days have passed since he and Casey Patterson snagged a silver in Poland, though that stretch has come with its share of narrow misses.
One in particular will stand out to both he and Crabb. It came just last year. It came against the two they’ll see on the other side of the net in Rome for the bronze medal at the World Tour Finals.
Tyler Hildebrand still doesn’t really know how Christian Sorum managed to put a knuckle on Crabb’s cut shot at 14-13 in the third set of the Gstaad Major a year ago. Somehow, the Norwegian did it, getting just enough on the ball to dig it before popping up in transition to make the kill.
Two points later, they’d push Crabb and Gibb into the bronze medal match against Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai. Mol and Sorum would go on to win another title, the first of a cavalcade of them.
Gibb and Crabb would finish fourth, losing 18-20 in the third set to the Italians.
That loss has since been avenged, just a few days ago, for the top spot in pool in Rome. A frenetic first set comeback, which flipped an 11-17 deficit into a 23-21 win, sparked what would become a three-set victory, setting off a chain of them en route to the semifinals in Rome.
But the loss to Mol and Sorum remains. They met those boys again in Gstaad this year. Again, it went three.
Again, it went to Mol and Sorum.
On Sunday at the World Tour Finals, they’ll have another crack at the Norwegians, who lost to Russia’s Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov in their semifinal. One more crack at the the team they haven’t been able to crack.
One more shot at the medal that has strangely eluded this partnership, which has been so successful at home but hasn’t quite been able to bring that same success overseas.
“To get on the podium,” Gibb said, “would mean everything.”
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