Small Draw, Big Wins at Atlantic City Invitational

Only eight teams per gender competed, but Atlantic City proved to be a thrilling stop on the AVP tour

Bob Blackburn
Kerri Walsh Jennings dives in front of her temporary partner Whitney Pavlik.

Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson cemented their place as equal rivals with No. 1 U.S. team Sean Rosenthal and Phil Dalhausser at the AVP’s DO AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational in Atlantic City, N.J., September 6-8, where they took their second consecutive tour title. In Cincinnati, they took the championship match away from underdogs Theo Brunner and Nick Lucena and a week later followed up with a win over Rosenthal and Dalhausser in the AC final. One couldn’t even really call the match close. Gibb and Patterson dismissed the duo of Olympians 21-19, 21-15 in a mere 41 minutes.

The Atlantic City champions only had one moment of doubt throughout the short eight-team draw tournament. In a rematch of the Cincinnati final, they faced Brunner and Lucena in the second round. After winning 21-17, Gibb and Patterson dropped a set 17-21, and found themselves fighting for every point in the third. Brunner used his professional and college experience in the indoor version of the sport to ramp up his jump serve and block, while Lucena played admirable defense and found ways around Gibb’s formidable block, including tooling Gibb multiple times. After trading match points back and forth, Gibb and Patterson found a way to win the third set 17-15, allowing them to proceed to the semifinal match the next morning (which they won 21-18, 21-16) over Ryan Doherty and Todd Rogers.

On the women’s side, No. 1-seeded favorites April Ross and Jen Kessy came out with the $13,000 first-place prize but not before battling through two long matches, one in the semis versus Lauren Fendrick and Brittany Hochevar and the other in the final against Emily Day and Summer Ross.

Summer Ross and Day entered the tournament through the qualifier for the second week in a row, and defeated every opponent that stood in their path, allowing only Lane Carico and Heather Hughes (in the qualifier final) and Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat (in the second round of the main draw) to push them as far as a third game.

April Ross and Kessy redeemed their Cincinnati semifinal loss to Kerri Walsh Jennings and Whitney Pavlik by steaming through the Atlantic City draw undefeated. The win turned out to be Ross’ and Kessy’s last as partners, as the AVP’s St. Petersburg event final, which was to be a rematch with Summer Ross and Day, was canceled due to inclement weather. April Ross began her new partnership with Kerri Walsh Jennings at the Santa Barbara event.

Originally published in November 2013

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