The tournament was unpredictable, but in the end the two No. 1 seeds battled back Sunday and won the AVP Tour Series Denver Open titles.
Brazilians Larissa and Liliane Maestrini, who won the previous AVP stop in Muskegon two weeks earlier, beat seventh-seeded Carly Kan and Kaitlyn Leary in the women’s final 21-13, 21-13.
The men’s championship went to Andy Benesh and Miles Evans, who had to come through the contenders bracket. They beat fourth-seeded Evan Cory and Billy Kolinske in the final 22-20, 21-17. Benesh won an AVP title earlier this season when he and Phil Dalhausser won the tour-opener in Austin. This was Evans’ first AVP crown.
Both winning teams split $8,000, while the runnersup took home $5,000.
Larissa and Lili opened play with a sweep of Brook Bauer and Katie Horton, had to go a tough three to beat Savvy Simo and Abby Van Winkle, but then got thumped by 13th-seeded Mackenzie Ponnet and Chelsea Rice. That put Ponnet and Rice into a semifinal match against Kan and Leary.
Larissa and Lili responded by sweeping Jessica Gaffhey and Molly Turner and then suriving a 15-21, 21-16, 18-16 semifinals victory over third-seeded Julia Scoles and Geena Urango.
Kan and Leary beat Ponnet and Rice in the other semi 25-23, 21-16.
Larissa, 40, a three-time Brazilian Olympian and 2012 bronze medalist, is the oldest women to win back-to-back AVP titles.
Benesh and Evans were playing from behind the eight ball from the get-go. They got upset in their first match by the new pair of 16th-seeded Travis Mewhirter and John-Michael Plummer 22-20, 15-21, 15-10.
Benesh and Evans subsequently had to win seven matches to strike gold. They swept Brian Miller and Raffe Paulis, made short work of Dalhausser and John Sutton, swept Peter Connole and Silila Tucker, swept Mark Burik and Brandon Joyner, and then got into the semifinals by winning their rematch with VolleyballMag.com’s Mewhirter and Plummer 21-17, 21-16.
In the semifinals Benesh and Evans defeated third-seeded Paul Lotman and Miles Partain 21-16, 19-21, 15-11.
In the other semifinal, Cory and Kolinske battled past fifth-seeded Seain Cook and Logan Webber 20-22, 21-12, 18-16.
Many of the competitors will go straight from Denver to Wisconsin.
The next AVP event is next weekend, another in the Tour Series, the Waupaca Open in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The latest list shows the pair of Skylar del Sol and Andrew Dentler seeded first among the men. On the women’s side, it’s Kan and Leary.
After that comes the next Pro Series event, the Hermosa Beach Open July 8-10.
On to Gstaad
The next major Volleyball World tournament starts Wednesday in Switzerland, the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Gstaad Elite 16.
There are four USA entries.
The women’s contingent is led by 10th-seeded veteran Emily Stockman and USC junior-to-be Megan Kraft, who are coming off a VW Pro Tour Futures victory last weekend in Poland.
The pair of Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss is seeded 11th, followed by 22nd-seeded Corinne Quiggle and Sarah Schermerhorn. They are in the same Pool F and play each other to open the tournament.
There is also a Volleyball World Futures event next weekend in Leece, Italy. There are two American pairs entered, Melissa Fuchs Powell and Tambre Nobles and the USC Nourse twins, Audrey and Nicole. The Nourses lost in the third round of the qualifier in Denver.
UH makes Silberstein official
Evan Silberstein, who served this past season as the interim head coach of the Hawai’i beach team, is now officially the head coach.
Silberstein, who was an assistant for seven years at UH before taking over the reins last spring, was the Big West co-coach of the year.
Hawai’i made it into the 16-team NCAA Beach Championship field this past May but lost to Loyola Marymount in the first round.