The top-seeded team of Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb had to go overtime Saturday afternoon to advance to the men’s final four at the AVP Huntington Beach Open, surviving through 21 serves after reaching match point in a showdown with second-seeded Phil Dalhauser and Nick Lucena.
Troy Field watched the match, easily the most dramatic battle in the first three days of the AVP Tour’s season-opening event on the sand just north of the Huntington Beach Pier, as he and new partner Tim Bomgren prepared for their chance to get to Sunday’s semifinals.
“We’re here warming up, watching what just happened, and everyone looks up to us and says, ‘You’ve got to top it,’ ” he said. “So we did everything we possibly could to top it, and, hopefully, we gave the crowd a great show.”
Field, who grew up in Laguna Beach and San Clemente, and Bomgren barely survived themselves, rallying from a first-set loss to send the match to a third set, watching a six-point lead at match point disappear, then fighting back to close out the third set and knock out fourth-seeded Jeremy Casebeer and Chaim Schalk.
The 15-21, 21-19, 20-18 triumph in the day’s final match on the stadium court set up a semifinal meeting Sunday at 12:15 against sixth-seeded Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson, who went through with a two-set sweep of Dalhauser and Lucena in a winner’s bracket quarterfinal.
The other semifinal, slated for 11:15 a.m., pits Gibb, from Huntington Beach, and Taylor Crabb against No. 8 sees Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, Taylor’s brother and former partner. Bourne/Crabb upset Gibb/Crabb, 2-0, on Friday, and Trevor Crabb was hoping to go up against his little brother and fellow Long Beach State alum.
“We’d love to play him and beat him again,” he said.
Top-seeded April Ross (Costa Mesa) and Alix Klineman, winners of four AVP events last year, will take on No. 2 Sara Hughes (Costa Mesa) and Summer Ross in the second women’s semifinal at 10:15 a.m. Fourth-seeded Emily Day and Betsi Flint take on 14th seeds Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan an hour earlier.
Klineman and April Ross swept Day and Flint to reach the final four, and Day and Flint then pulled out two matches to make Sunday’s field, beating 11th seeds Karisa Cook and Jace Pardon in three sets. Hughes and Summer Ross also went through the loser’s bracket after falling to Humana-Paredes and Pavan, inching through with a 16-14 advantage in the third set against third-seeded Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman.
Gibb and Taylor Crabb toppled Dalhauser and Lucena, 21-13, 15-21, 17-15, staving off five match points before three Gibb blocks, two on Dalhauser, ended the suspense.
“That was a final. That felt like a final,” Gibb said. “The whole energy behind it, and now we get to [try to make the real] final and get ready to grind against Taylor’s brother tomorrow.”
Field and Bomgren raced to a 14-9 lead in the final set of their quarterfinal, then struggled to deal with Casebeer’s serve and fell behind, 15-14. They pulled ahead three times, the last on a Field ace down on the left endline, and won when Schalk returned deep off Bomgren’s serve.
“Holy cow, is Jeremy a good server,” Field said. “I knew he was good coming into this match, but oh my gosh, mad respect to them. Holy cow. This is wild.”
Laguna Beach’s Ty Loomis and Michael Brunsting, the 13th seeds, and Huntington Beach’s Ben Vaught and Spencer Sauter, seeded 18th, were eliminated in their first matches Saturday, and Huntington Beach’s Ed Ratledge and Roberto Rodriguez, seeded third, dropped a 2-1 decision to Bomgren and Field one step shy of the final showdown.
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SCOTT FRENCH is a contributor to Times Community News.