A near-capacity crowd at the temporary stadium at the Hermosa Beach Pier witnessed two new teams crowned at the AVP Hermosa Beach Open.
The No. 1-ranked women’s team of Emily Day and Betsi Flint and the No. 3-ranked men’s pair of Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson took home the team titles and bedazzled skateboards.
Day and Flint, defeated Kathryn Hogan and Megan Rice in straight sets 21-14, 21-14. The win marked Day’s ninth career title and Flint’s fifth. The pair has been dominating the AVP tour, winning its fourth team title in 10 AVP tour events.
“For us we’ve been working a lot on minimizing our errors and we trust our defense, so we know when we can attack even if we don’t get a clean kill we can transition and play defense,” said Day.
The duo won all five of its tournament matches without dropping a set. Day-Flint cruised to quick victory in the first set. In the second set, Hogan and Rice’s offense got them to 13-13, but Day and Flint’s power hitting won it.
“We don’t think about it too much. We worry about our side. We really focus on what’s right in front of us, not even two matches ahead of us. Just one game at a time,” said Flint, who earned All-America honors at Loyola Marymount.
Day had 18 kills and Flint had 8 kills and six digs. The duo hit 63.9% compared to 16.7% from Rice and Hogan.
“I felt like Betsi’s serving really helped contain them,” Day said. “For us, we focused on our pass and sets. Betsi is a great setter and I know they were coming after me most of the time, so I knew if I could give a pass towards her, she would give me a great set.”
Budinger — reigning AVP rookie of the year — and Patterson defeated Miles Evans and Ryan Doherty 25-23, 19-21, 15-7. The victory marked Budinger’s first AVP title since his retirement from professional basketball and Patterson’s first title in almost two years.
Budinger and Patterson, who fell short in the finals of the Huntington Beach Open earlier this summer, knocked out reigning champion John Hyden and his new partner Piotr Marciniak on Friday. In the finals, they were happy to see a team they played previously.
“We played them early in the tournament and had some success serving real tough and getting them out of the system and capitalizing on that. We did a good job,” Casey Patterson said about Doherty and Evan. “That was kind of our similar mind-set with this one. They definitely sided out and played a little bit better [defense].”
After a point-for-point battle in the first set, Budinger and Patterson were able to grind it out in the end. The pair struggled to block in the second set and Doherty and Evans took advantage to force a third.
“They’re a new team so they adjusted then we had to adjust again. In the third set, I tried to ramp it up and hit some spots and make them play,” Patterson said. “We also changed our mind-set on defense and what we were going to do. Chase made great reads and I just stayed super patient behind him. He was terminal with it. That was the difference in the third set.”
After observing Doherty and Evans in their semifinal match, Budinger was confident they could grind out another third-set victory.
“Right before the third set, I looked at Casey and told him that we had a lot of three-set games in this tournament and we came out and played well and dominated those games. I was like ‘Dude let’s do it again,’ ” Budinger said.
The two jumped out to and ran away with the third set, thanks in part to Budinger’s blocking, including a block on a well-timed cross kill to give the pair the win.
“That’s one of the greatest feelings in the third set because those ones are so nerve-racking because at any point a team goes for two or three it feels like six or seven,” Patterson said about jumping to an early lead. “For us it was huge to capitalize on that early and then just create some space.”
Patterson had 20 kills and 11 digs and Budinger had 12 kills and 8 blocks. Doherty and Evans had a slightly higher hitting percentage of 29.3% compared to Patterson and Budinger’s 28.8%.
Despite tasting his first AVP title, Budinger isn’t satisfied and knows he can still make some improvements to his game.
“I still feel like I have a long way to go. I still feel I could be a better read blocker. I still feel my defense could be better. I’m a perfectionist. When it comes to this game, I feel I could be doing a lot better and affect the game a lot more. As long as I’m improving each month, each year I can be happy about that.”