San Diego AVP Tour Stop at Harrah’s Rincon Showcases Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh as the Women’s Team to Beat with Gold Medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers being Upset by John Mayer and Jeff Nygaard
Minus the presence of 2008 Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, Elaine Youngs and Nicole Branagh have established themselves as the dominant women’s team on the AVP Crocs pro beach volleyball tour this season.
Branagh and Youngs claimed their third title in three events this season on the AVP Crocs Tour, defeating surging seventh-seeds Lisa Rutledge and Brooke Hanson, 21-18, 21-15 in the Sunday’s final of the AVP Crocs Tour San Diego Presented By Johnsonville. The 2008 Olympians have yet to drop a match this season.
On the men’s side, seventh-seeded John Mayer and Jeff Nygaard claimed their first and seventh AVP titles, respectively. They upset second-seeded Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal 21-18, 21-17.
After thirty-nine consecutive trips to AVP Crocs Tour Final Fours, reigning Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers settled for a fifth-place finish in San Diego.
“We go into every tournament expecting to win, no matter who’s there,” Youngs said. “It’s the same goal whether Kerri and Misty are here or not. We’re happy to get the victory.”
Branagh and Youngs advanced to Sunday’s final by defeating No. 3 seeds Jenny Johnson Jordan and Annett Davis, 17-21, 21-18, 15-8. Rutledge and Hanson upset second-seeded April Ross and Jennifer Kessy 21-23, 22-20, 15-9.
It was Rutledge’s first finals appearance and Hanson’s second. Rutledge is a graduate of nearby Vista High and was a fan favorite all weekend.
On the men’s side, Nygaard celebrated his first victory since 2005, while Mayer made his first trip to the winners’ podium.“I never expected to win a tournament,” said Mayer. “I’ve watched Jake and Rosie and Phil and Todd and always felt that they were a level above me, but now that’s starting to change.”
Dalhausser and Rogers were eliminated Sunday with a 21-17, 18-21, 15-12 loss to Gibb and Rosenthal. The top seeds had won the season’s first two tournaments.
“We came out slow, (and) they came out on fire,” said Rogers of the loss. “The third game we were up 9-5 - we just couldn’t take care of business.”
The AVP Crocs Tour San Diego Presented by Johnsonville marked the AVP Crocs Tour’s first-ever tournament at Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort.
Photos by Sean Callahan for SoCal Beaches Magazine www.socalbeachmag.net
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