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Beach Volleyball: Gibb-Patterson ousted

LONG BEACH — Though they were hardly the whippersnappers of beach volleyball last year, Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson, then 37 and 33, respectively, had the benefit of being fresh and new, yet seasoned and savvy.

This season, however, there is nothing new under the sun for Gibb, a Costa Mesa resident, and his Mohawk-coiffed partner from Huntington Beach, who were eliminated in the round of 16 on Friday at the Federation Internationale de Volleyball World Series of Beach Volleyball at Marina Green Park.

The top-seeded American women's duo of Costa Mesa resident April Ross and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings survived a scare to win their only match Friday and advance to Saturday's quarterfinals.

The No. 9-seeded Brazilian men's duo of Ricardo Santos and Alvaro Filho defeated No. 12-seeded Gibb and Patterson, 21-18, 23-21, to advance to the quarterfinals and leave the No. 12-seeded Americans with their third consecutive ninth-place showing on the FIVB World Tour.

"It kind of goes down to every tournament we've had this year," said Patterson, who along with Gibb have not made the semifinals of an FIVB event since finishing fourth in Long Beach last year. "I thought we played really well all week."

Gibb and Patterson, the 2013 FIVB World Tour champions whose fifth-place showing in Shanghai, China is their top FIVB finish this season, swept three matches to win Pool E, including a three-set triumph over the No. 5-seeded team from Latvia. It was the second time in 2014 they have won their pool in an FIVB event.

"All the matches in pool play, we controlled everything, and we had real high-level volleyball," said Patterson, who addressed the media without Gibb after the loss. "We were both kind of on all cylinders and if we made mistakes, we were both able to recover well, especially against the Latvians.

"Once again, it seems very similar to our summer so far, where we're not playing badly, we're just not capitalizing on some close sets to give ourselves that opportunity to win another medal. It's a little bit frustrating. It doesn't look like we're playing terrible, it's just a few points here or there, which is the difference between teams that are more consistent and [those that are] not. Our goal is to be more consistent and tweak those little things so we can fix those things up."

Patterson first teamed with Gibb, a two-time Olympian, last year, when they won the FIVB event in Shanghai, won the World Series Cup (a side event to the World Series Grand Slam event), captured FIVB silver medals in Argentina and at the World Cup in Brazil, as well as a bronze medal in Gstaad, Switzerland.

But, Patterson said, the dynamic on the World Tour has changed.

"It's absolutely true that anyone who is new and fresh and unknown has an advantage," Patterson said. "And all the teams are better this year, because everyone was new last year. I think the teams that had better chemistry, like Jake and I, took advantage of all that [last year]. So, we kind of blew people out of the water, because we got along so well and had such good chemistry. We communicated really well, so we had this huge advantage over teams that were still fighting and quarreling all the time and figuring out what they were going to do. The good teams will be good over time, and you want to go down as a guy who can do it for more than one season."

Gibb and Patterson, who won four titles on the domestic Assn. of Volleyball Professionals Tour in 2013 and were second at the AVP event in Florida and third in Milwaukee this season, last led the first set, 4-3, against the Brazilians Friday.

In the second set, the Americans led, 9-8, fell behind, 20-17, then rallied to knot the score at 20. They staved off three match points, before Gibb sent a roll shot wide to end the match.

"Last year, we beat them three out of four matches," Patterson said of the Brazilians. "This year, we have played them twice and lost both times. "We scored a couple of points late, but it just wasn't enough to take over that second set. We had a shot, but they were definitely more confident and more in control all the time."

Ross and Walsh Jennings eked out a 21-18, 18-21, 17-15 round-of-16 victory over the No. 10-seeded German pair of Laura Ludwig and Julie Sude.

Ross and Walsh Jennings built a 9-5 lead in the third set, before the Germans, led by two-time Olympian Ludwig, scored five straight to take a 10-9 lead. After tie scores at 10, 11, 12 and 13, a Ludwig kill gave the Germans match point.

But Sude served into the net and Walsh Jennings stuff blocked Ludwig to put the Americans up, 15-14. After a Ludwig kill tied it again, a Ross cut shot created match point and Sude hit into the net to help the Americans avert an early exit.

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