Not everything went as expected during this weekend’s AVP New Orleans Open beach volleyball tournament, but some things did.
No. 1 seeds Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson captured the tournament title Sunday, defeating the No. 2 seeded team of Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal 23-21, 21-14 in the first stop on the 2015 tour.
Gibb and Patterson were playing in their 15th AVP tournament together and have eight wins and 14 semifinals appearances. They won four events last year. The duo cruised through the men’s winners’ bracket with relative ease Saturday, beating the No. 16 seed, the No. 9 seed and the No. 12 seed in straight sets. On Sunday, No. 3 seed Ryan Doherty and John Mayer took them to three sets before Gibb and Patterson prevailed 24-22, 19-21, 15-9 to advance to the final.
“That was a huge win,” Gibb said. “We had like seven months off in the off-season, and it felt good to get the first win. So happy to have AVP back. Man, that’s a huge win for us. Phil’s the best player on the tour. He just is. But today, we were the better team, and we’re stoked on it.”
This was the eighth meeting of these two teams in tour play, with Dalhausser and Rosenthal leading the series 6-2 (2-1 on AVP and 4-0 on FIVB). This was the first win for Patterson and Gibb since 2013 in Atlantic City.
“It raises our level, and it raises their level too,” Patterson said. “We’re the top two teams in the U.S., and the more we compete, the better we both get. It helps both of us.”
While a torrential downpour Thursday wreaked havoc with the Kenner Lakefront site, and wiped out play completely Friday, two days of sun and stiff breezes helped dry things out for Sunday. Still, there were challenges, including a brief downpour during the women’s final and a constant wind off the lake.
“We just decided to treat it as a side-out and serving match,” Patterson said. “It’s such a jumper’s beach with it being hard-packed sand, we just knew we had to go for our serve and side-out really well. That was the game plan.”
But there was little time to celebrate Sunday as all four men’s finalists, along with several of the women, were scrambling to catch international flights to Moscow for the Federation Internationale de Volleyball Grand Slam.
After falling to the top team in the earlier semifinals, Doherty was happy to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans — all 7-feet of him. He said the schedule adjustment, with no matches Friday, didn’t affect him.
“We’ve had a lot of two-day tournaments, so we knew what we were in for,” Doherty said. “I think the grounds crew and all the staff did a great job of getting the courts as ready for play as they could. And we were lucky enough to stay in the winners’ bracket for both days, so we didn’t have as many matches.”
Not getting a day off Friday were brothers Brian and Tim Bomgren, the No. 12 seed. They had to play a qualifying match Friday at the nearby Coconut Beach. Saturday, they beat the No. 5 seed before falling into the contenders’ bracket after losing to Gibb and Patterson late Saturday. There, they defeated No. 7 seed Casey Jennings and Bill Kolinske to get to the semifinals — the first time since 2008 and only the fourth time ever that a qualifier reached the men’s semifinals. Their best previous finish was ninth.
“We played really well in the qualifier and just kept that momentum going,” Tim Bomgren said.