After he watched his brother celebrate for three consecutive years, it was about time Taylor Crabb got his moment in the sun.
Make that “in the rain.”
Playing through wet conditions from Hurricane Hilary, Taylor Crabb won his first Manhattan Beach Open on Sunday, ending his older brother Trevor Crabb’s three-year reign with a 27-25, 21-16 win alongside partner Taylor Sander.
Taylor Crabb, two and a half years younger than Trevor, had lost 12 of his last 15 matches against his older brother, including a thrilling three-set match in the winners bracket on Saturday. The brothers are now the first blood relatives to each have titles at the legendary tournament.
“I can’t say much because he’s still got three to my one,” Taylor Crabb said with a wry smile, “but I couldn’t have asked for anything more. To play him in the finals and to stop his four-peat, it feels amazing. Everything is surreal right now.”
Trevor, who earned the top seed with Theo Brunner, was hoping to become the first man to win four consecutive Manhattan Beach Opens since Karch Kiraly from 1990-1993.
Taylor, who played with his brother on the beach until 2016, is a two-time AVP most valuable player and four-time best defender. He qualified for the 2020 Olympics with Jake Gibb before testing positive for the coronavirus and being replaced by Tri Bourne. Despite his impressive resume, Taylor Crabb said “nothing means more” than getting his name on the famous Manhattan Beach Pier, solidifying himself among the sport’s legends.
“That was all that was missing in his career,” said Sander, who transitioned from indoor volleyball to the beach in 2022 after helping the U.S. national team to a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics. “He’s up there [on the pier] where he belongs.”
Taylor Crabb interjected: “We’re up there together.”
The first-time champions on “Team Taylor” will be joined on the pier by fellow newcomers Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles, who fought through the contenders bracket after losing their opening match Friday and defeated Hailey Harward and Kelley Kolinske in Sunday’s final 22-20, 21-13.
Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander win the AVP Manhattan Beach Open men’s title on Sunday.
The crown jewel of the AVP schedule is known for its unique 32-team, double-elimination field that honors champions by engraving their names on volleyball-shaped plaques on the pier. Fans typically flock to the legendary event under bright sunny skies and warm temperatures.
On Sunday, diehards traded tank tops for rain coats and still packed the grandstand for both finals.
After play was extended Saturday to minimize matches during the storm Sunday, the men played through light showers while the women’s final powered through a steady downpour. The ball was caked in wet sand that sprayed the court with each hit. It was harder to fire bigger serves with the ball soaking up the water, Flint said. Raindrops pelted her eyes every time she looked up to serve.
But “it was kind of nice,” Flint added, because the team was anticipating more wind.
“It helped us stay focused on each point and get it done,” the former Loyola Marymount beach and indoor star said.
Flint dumped celebratory beer over Scoles’ head and posed for photos with her partner after the match. They were surprised at the weight of the bronze plaques as they held them up for photos. Flint, who lost in the previous two finals, pulled her family in for a final shot and took the white lei off her neck before placing it over her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter’s head.
“I’m really excited for my daughter to see my name on the pier forever, for life,” Flint said. “She doesn’t care now, but she will down the road.”
Family was also the primary focus for Taylor Crabb as he choked up during an on-court, post-match interview while addressing his parents, who traveled from Honolulu for the tournament.
Taylor Crabb was on hand for each of Trevor’s Manhattan Beach titles and was “stoked for him every time he won.” This time, Taylor soaked up the celebratory beer shower and posed for photos with a plaque that will soon bear his name. Trevor applauded from the baseline.