Bourne-Crabb prove too much for Schalk-Brunner in final

Chaim Schalk hits ball toward Tri Bourne in Sunday’s Manhattan Beach AVP Open championship match. Schalk and Theo Brunner lost in the finals to Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, 21-17, 21-14. (Joe Snyder)

By Joe Snyder

Chaim Schalk and Theo Brunner came into last week’s prestigious Manhattan Beach Association of Volleyball Professionals match already defeating the premiere duo of Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb for the Hermosa Beach Tournament championship on July 10.

Bourne, a United States Olympic beach volleyball player in last year’s Games in Tokyo, Japan, and Crabb, though, came in with the winning experience in the “Grandaddy of Beach Volleyball Tournaments”. The duo won the classic last year and Crabb captured the Manhattan Open with Reid Briddy in 2019.

Schalk, who represented Canada in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and currently lives in Gardena, and Brunner entered the 62nd annual classic as the top seed, and Brunner dominated virtually all other teams in losing just one set, including a 21-17, 21-16 semifinal victory over Andy Benesh and Billy Evans last Sunday setting the stage to play probably the most premiere duo in recent years.

After a mostly close first set, Bourne and Crabb, who are both from Honolulu, Hawaii, proved overwhelming. They jumped on Schalk and Brunner for a 7-1 lead and continued with a safe advantage enroute for a 21-17, 21-14 championship victory. It was the second straight Manhattan Beach title for Crabb with Bourne and Crabb’s third in a row. Crabb’s three-tournament winning streak tied the men’s record set from 2006-08 by Phil Dauhauser and Todd Rodgers, who both won three Olympic gold medals. The women’s record is four set from 2004-07 by Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, who also won five Olympic gold medals.

“This tournament (Manhattan Beach Open) means everything,” Crabb said. “There is nothing like this. We had our ups and downs but we’re getting it together. We wanted to repeat and we did really well.”

After struggling throughout most of the tournament, things clicked on with Bourne and Crabb when they rallied from a one-game deficit as Trevor and teammate were able to defeat Trevor’s younger brother, Taylor and Taylor Sander, 19-21, 21-13, 15-9. After that, they were on fire.

“They (Bourne and Trevor Crabb) played real well,” Schalk said. “They had a good game and we didn’t play our game.”

The Hermosa Beach championship was Schalk and Brunner’s only title. This is the fourth consecutive time the duo reached the championship game but came up short. They also lost in the finals in Michigan, Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta.

They will try, again, on Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 2-4) in Chicago.

In the women’s division, Sarah Hughes and Kelley Kolinske made a ferocious rally to over- come Kelly Cheng and Betsy Flint, 21-18, 11-21, 15-13.

In the third and decisive set, Hughes and Kolinske trailed 13-10 before bouncing back with the match’s final five points to pull off their first title at this event.

After a close first set win, Hughes and Kolinske found Cheng and Flint too much in the second set. Highlighting Cheng and Flint in that set was a 10-1 run. Cheng and Flint appeared to have the championship put away before Hughes and Kolinske dashed past them.

The Manhattan Beach Open was held every year, except 2020 due to the Great COVID-19 Pandemic, since 1960.