Taylor Crab, and the arrival of the next generation of beach volleyball

Taylor Crabbe digging a ball in the Cancun/FIVB photo

Jake Jib He had to wake up. I couldn’t watch from the restaurant in Ostrava Such as Phil Dalhauser And the Nick Lucina A deep struggle in the third set with Dutchman Stefan Bormans and Yorick de Groot.

He rarely watches the other matches, Jeb. Never pull it on his phone or laptop. Hell, he doesn’t even want to know which team he’s on until the morning of his game. However, the implications of a routine pool-playing frenzy were too high for Jeb to ignore.

It was this match that would likely put him in the fourth Olympic Games, Taylor Krabs first. So they sat, all three of them, watching on Krapp’s phone as the Dutch scrambled for a 13-13 tie for third. The tension arose during a layoff and only worsened in the first match after that, when the Boermans were called to double, giving Dalhausser and Lucena their first match point, leading 14-13.

who was when pocket rose and left. I had to have coffee. He walks beside. Something. Anything that distracts him. So he didn’t see the Dutch narrow side twice in a row, sliding a pair of corners around the Dalhauser block. He didn’t see the mad dash at the age of 15-15, a runaway dash that put the Dutch in a 16-15 position. He didn’t see the block that would shut down the match and puncture his ticket to Tokyo.

Krapp put his phone aside and waited, leaving no emotional accounts of what had just happened. When Jeb returned and did not see any celebration from Krapp or their coach, Rich Lambourne, suppose the race is still going on.

“Won an elephant?” Asked.

Then Crabb let her out. dalhauser And the Lucina Lost.

Jake Gibb and Taylor Crab were going to Olympic Toys.

This is but a small anecdote, a little peek into the perfect chemistry that made this team, a team characterized by one of the greatest generations and the undisputed best of the next, such a colossal success.

Here Taylor CrabIn the moments after achieving what many consider the sport’s highest honor in beach volleyball, he doesn’t jump around this restaurant in OstravaScreams and shouts of joy. He doesn’t run into a jeep and slap his hands with a Lamborne. Instead, he’s making a joke, fooling around with the veteran, who at 45 may have been playing his best volleyball yet.

“It was a very wonderful moment to see his enthusiasm and passion in it,” said Crabbe. SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter.

He could have taken that moment to himself, Crab. He became, after all, the youngest American man to qualify since 2008, when Sean Rosenthal, the player Crabb is frequently compared to, made the Beijing Olympics with 32-year-old Gibb. But he didn’t. Instead, he made it an even bigger moment for Gibb, and a funny one for Lambourne.

As he almost inevitably does, Taylor Crabbe made the moment about someone else.

Sit back and listen to any interview, watch any clip, browse all social media and what you will find is that Crabb always highlights any of his biggest moments on those around him.

First AVP win? Jeep praise.

The first win for the International Volleyball Federation? Jeep praise.

First Olympic qualification? Thanks to everyone who helped him in his rapid rise in the sport.

He is quiet, a crab, not drawn to media attention or the trappings of fame. However, ask him about Gibb or Lambourne and he will go on for minutes at a time. Ask him about his upbringing – or not, he’ll probably bring it up alone – in Hawaii, and he’ll point out the athletes and pros before him who showed him that becoming a pro was a very real thing. Possibility. Then, for no reason, he will move on to the praise of childhood friends Riley and Madison McKibbin What do they do for this sport?

Ask him about his unusual propensity to compete in any tournament, anywhere, against any kind of competition, and he’ll find a way to give the highest compliment: he can learn from everyone who plays him, BB or Olympian.

It is not good for anyone.

“Every player is completely different, and I love to go out and play with someone new or against someone,” Krapp said. “This just teaches you different things instead of facing the same person, be it Anders Mall or a AVP Next young man. They will do something different that you may not be used to. Although it’s not a group practice, I still get reps of having to read all these different people, whether it’s from the grass or from the four men or whatever.”

This is, in part, what makes Crabb so perfect for the role many assumed he would fill: the face of this next generation of American beach volleyball players. There is, as he will easily point out, an endless stream of talented players around the world. However, there are a few who will be playing on a grass course in South Carolina, AVP Next in Florida, and a four-way tournament on Sunday at Hermosa Beach, playing with and against players of all backgrounds, aspirations and levels – and using it all to continue to rise as one of the best defenders in the world. the world. There are few who realize their Olympic dreams, but immediately find a way to use that to build an AVP.

“For beach volleyball specifically, everyone is talking about the Olympics,” Crabb said. “That’s the overall goal. But they get past that we have a season. We have a tour. The NBA is more important than the Olympics. Winning that championship, and then becoming an Olympian is a bonus.”

“Our season is over. Everything is just focused on the Olympics, just go there. That’s what I hope to see change, is that we have our season, our change, and it’s just as important, winning our season, and then on top of that, becoming Olympians. Our season is just as important.”

Before that season, which begins August 13, in Atlanta, Georgia, will be the Olympic Games. It will be a different Games than usual, with no Oakley or Lulu House, and no exciting Olympic Village. It is simply a volleyball. Just the way Crabb loves it.

“None of that extra stuff, which sounds great to me,” Crabb said. “All we have to do is volleyball.”

In three weeks, Crabbe, Jeb and Lambourne will be in Tokyo. They’re skipping over the next four-star Gstaad to focus on their Olympic preparations, final follow-up here, and mastery there. Throughout the lead up to the Games, every day so far has been the same and totally different at the same time. It’s still just volleyball, yes, but he’s now preparing for a phase he’s only seen and never felt.

“It was wild.” Crazy,” Crabb said. “Every day is different for me. Some days, I’m totally nervous. Some days, I’m just so scared, I think about it. Some days, I really want to get out on the sand and play in that environment. I don’t know how to tackle it all yet, but we’ll get there.”

And he will probably get there again and again.

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