The streak ended with players from both sides down on the sand.
Melissa Humana-Paredes dropped down in relief. April Ross laid out in defeat after she dove for a missed dig that ended an incredible run with partner Alix Klineman.
Emotional tilt defined the women’s final of the Manhattan Beach Open. It took an excruciatingly eked out third set for Humana-Paredes and partner Sarah Pavan to end five straight AVP tournament wins and 30 straight AVP match wins by Ross and Klineman. Their 28-26, 21-16, 16-14 win Sunday was the first Open victory for the Canadian duo, and it highlighted a day of breakthroughs as Trevor Crabb and Reid Priddy produced their first title on the men’s side.
Pavan and Humana-Paredes watched the Open growing up in Canada and it was stunning to realize they will take part in the traditional plaque ceremony on Manhattan Beach Pier next year.
“This is an iconic event, and some of the greats in beach volleyball history have won this, and to be able to join them with our name on the pier is incredibly humbling, and it keeps us really hungry for more,” Pavan said.
The match was the latest edition of a rivalry that could extend to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Pavan and Humana-Paredes this year beat Ross and Klineman in the world championships, and on Sunday they avenged a loss to them in the Huntington Beach Open. It didn’t matter to Pavan that Ross and Klineman won three of the previous four meetings going into Sunday.
“To be honest, we won the big ones, so that’s all I really care about,” Pavan said.
Ross and Klineman were served match point seven times in a third set that saw them climb back from 7-11. They committed 14 service errors, four in the third set. They declined to speak to the media afterward.
Pavan and Humana-Paredes mostly let their play speak, even when they endured a “Go back to Canada” remark from the otherwise spirited crowd.
“They wouldn’t be saying ‘Go back to Canada’ if they weren’t threatened by us, so if they need to say that to make themselves feel better, then that means we’re doing our job and playing well,” Pavan said.
Priddy and Crabb finished an exhausting but impressive three-match day with a 21-15, 21-19 sweep of Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger. Their partnership was last minute because Crabb’s usual partner Tri Bourne, suffered a recent hand injury. They had three practices together, with Priddy moving to the left side, but they eliminated the top two seeds and came together for their first AVP wins.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better for No.1,” Crabb said. “This is the tournament everyone wants to win. I think it’s the greatest beach volleyball event ever. To have our names on the Pier forever, there’s nothing like it. I’m super stoked right now.”
Their alliance was super awkward given their past animosity. Priddy acknowledged that Crabb annoyed him, but he was willing to look past that.
“I went up to him a year ago and said, ‘I just want to let you know I have respect for you,’ ” Priddy said. “ ‘I don’t like how you act sometimes across the net, but you play harder than anybody out here and I value that more than anything.’ ”
Patterson and Budinger were going for back-to-back AVP wins. They had to grind out a three-set win against 26th-seeded Bill Kolinske and Eric Beranek in the semifinals and knew they were going up against a different animal with Priddy and Crabb.
“They took advantage of a really good opportunity [in] that no one knew how to scout them out or play them because they’re brand new,” Patterson said. “Who knew what kind of chemistry they would have because they’ve hated each other for five years and somehow they figured it out.
“You’ve got two super high-level sideout guys that have zero expectation as a group and get to play free and have fun. There’s no expectation for them to win. There’s no pressure for them to win. The pressure’s on us to win as a team that just won a tournament that’s an actual team. And they’re just here to have fun. There’s a big difference in the body language.”
Priddy and Crabb beat top-seeded, two-time defending champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena in the other semifinal.
“It was just kind of sloppy,” Dalhausser said. “We couldn’t get any kind of consistency or attack in the first set. It was one of those days.”