Lagunans face off in women's beach volleyball final

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Seven stops over the course of five months ended Sunday for the team of Whitney Pavlik and Jenny Kropp, who went out in style at the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series.

Pavlik, who grew up and lives in Laguna Beach, and Kropp, a resident of Hollglen, won their sixth women's division tournament in the seven-event series. The pair defeated Laguna Beach High alumna Rachel (Wacholder) Scott and Lauren Fendrick, 21-14, 21-18, in the women's final at the Huntington Beach Pier.

Pavlik and Kropp held a near wire-to-wire lead in the match.

"Finishing off [the series] here in Huntington Beach is great," Pavlik said. "I grew up down the road in Laguna Beach, and I have family and friends here today. It's great [winning] here and that they were a part of it with me."

The first set was close early, but a put-back by Kropp gave her team a 6-3 lead. Pavlik soon after came up with back-to-back aces to take the score to 8-4. Scott and Fendrick were still within striking range at 14-11, but a 4-1 run put Pavlik and Kropp into an 18-12 advantage.

They took game one when Fendrick hit into the match at game point.

The start of the second game looked as though Pavlik and Kropp would establish control early. They took a 3-0 lead on another ace by Pavlik, but Scott and Fendrick battled back to tie the score (7-7) on a block by Fendrick. The score would be tied four more times, the last time, at 11-11 when an off-balance shot by Pavlik went into the net. A soft tap by Pavlik on the next serve put her and Kropp in the lead for good at 12-11.

Down 19-17, Fendrick came up with a big block and point when it appeared that Kropp was about to deliver a big kill. The exchange capped a great sequence by the two teams, and brought the score to 19-18.

Kropp did get a kill moments later and with Pavlik serving at match point, Kropp scored on a block to clinch the title.

The Jose Cuervo Beach Volleyball Series started in Florida in May with the Fort Lauderdale Open. Other series tournament stops included Belmar, N.J., Chicago, Hermosa Beach, Milwaukee, Manhattan Beach, and Sunday's national championships at Huntington Beach.

The Huntington Beach Open started Friday with tournament qualifiers, and the main draw was Saturday .

The Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series is sanctioned by USA Volleyball.

"It's been a long season," Pavlik said. "We've been training since January. Doing it together, sticking together, that's what got us through."

"We really need a break," Kropp said, breaking into a big smile as she looked at Pavlik.

"We'll be ready to go next year, but that's way off," Pavlik joked back, gesturing with her arms, as if pointing toward the future.

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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