While most of the top pro beach volleyball players were playing in FIVA tournaments overseas, John Hyden and Redondo Beach resident Sean Scott were dominating all the tournaments held in the United States.
With some of the other players involved in FIVA deciding to come back to California to participate in Jose Cuervo’s final tournament in Hermosa Beach, Hyden and Scott, who were unbeaten in the previous classics that were mostly sponsored by Cuervo or Corona Light, knew they were faced with a very stiff test.
They definitely found out that as they were stunned by John Mayer (Culver City) and Matt Prosser, who now lives in Encinitas in San Diego County but was a former assistant coach to head mentor Duncan Avery with Redondo High’s boys’ volleyball team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, in split sets, then were eliminated by Hermosa’s own Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb, who also spent all spring and summer in FIVA, last Saturday.
That left the door open for others and making the final were Casey Jennings and his new Brazilian partner, Pedro Salgado, against Rosenthal and Gibb.
Rosenthal and Gibb were seeking to avenge their split set loss to Jennings and Salgado earlier on Sunday but Jennings and Salgado proved too much for them in sweeping them, 21-18, 21-17, for their first title this year.
Destined to win in his hometown, Rosenthal, with Gibb, got off to good starts in each game but Jennings of Manhattan Beach and Salgado, behind some outstanding all-around play by the 25-year-old Brazilian, were able to rally for wins in each game. They were down by three points on a few occasions in the first game and 10-6 in the second contest.
“Salgado and I were good friends for about five or six years,” Jennings said. “I’ve always wanted to play with Pedro. I’ve played with him overseas. We were down both sets. We didn’t feel comfortable. They (Gibb and Rosenthal) came in aggressively. Pedro just took over. He was definitely the difference.”
Salgado, who has already won 11 FIVA titles including half of the tournaments from three years ago, proved dominant to Gibb and Rosenthal. Although, Gibb and Rosenthal started out well, the strong physicalness of the 6-foot-6 Salgado proved just too much as he was virtually like a machine late in each game. He had several key blocks, kills and even some good setting. When Salgado didn’t make key blocks on Gibb or Rosenthal’s hits, he would sometimes force them into them hitting balls too long. Salgado played with Harley Marques that were Team of the Year in 2008.
Jennings won the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) Hermosa title in 2005. During this year, he played in FIVA tournaments with Kevin Wong.
Rosenthal and Gibb were hoping to get their first win in Hermosa. They won the Manhattan Beach Open, which was under the AVP, two years ago, and Rosenthal won with his former Redondo Union High School mate Aaron Wacthfogel in Manhattan, twice, last year. Their first was the CBVA (California Beach Volleyball Association) Manhattan Beach Open and the United States national championships that was sponsored by Corona Light. The Manhattan Open came just days after the AVP canceled the rest of the 2010 season, then folded, at least, indefinitely.
“They’re a good team,” Rosenthal said about Jennings and Salgado. “They played great. Salgado is a great player. He has long arms and big hands.”
Despite the finals loss, Rosenthal and Gibb were satisfied with the runner-up finish. “If someone tells you at the beginning that you would get second, you would be all right with it,” Rosenthal said. “We’re all competitors. We got the final; we get to this game; we want to win.”
Gibb and Rosenthal had lost a thrilling 21-17,19-21, 21-19 match to Jennings and Salgado in a three-game match that took one hour and 15 minutes on Sunday morning, before Gibb and Rosenthal eliminated Hyden and Scott, also in split sets.
Gibb and Rosenthal, along with Jennings, who will reunite with Wong, return to the FIVA to play in Morocco next week.
In the women’s final, it was the top seeded team of April Ross (Costa Mesa) and Jen Kessey (Laguna Beach) who easily swept this year’s Cuervo Manhattan Beach Open champions Jenny Kropp (Hollyglen) and Whitney Pavlik (Laguna Beach), 21-16, 21-12, on Sunday.
Kessey and Ross had some outstanding jump serves that made things hard for Kropp and Pavlik to get.
Kropp had some strong blocking in her team’s losing cause.
“We played Whitney and Jenny several times and have lost to them several times, including the match this morning. We didn’t want that to happen again,” Ross said. “With this being our last tournament, we brought out the jump serves because we had nothing to lose.”
The Hermosa Open was the final for Cuervo, who took over many of the former AVP Tournaments in this nation. Corona Light and the National Volleyball League, run by former AVP standout Albert Hannemann, also had several top pro tournaments this year. Corona Light had its Hermosa Open last month.