Local top beach volleyball players hit AVP Huntington Beach Open

Jessica Gaffney, a 2014 graduate of Great Oak High School, goes up for a kill during a match Saturday, May 4, at the 2019 AVP Huntington Beach Open. David Canales photo

The 2019 Association of Volleyball Professionals season kicked off in style over the Cinco de Mayo weekend as dozens of the top beach volleyball players ascended to the sands of Surf City for the Huntington Beach Open. Since 2000 Huntington Beach has hosted more AVP events than any other location; it is the 20th straight year that a pro beach volleyball tournament has been played there. Last year, Huntington Beach was the venue for an FIVB 4-Star event hosted by the AVP, but this year it will be all familiar faces as the pros fight to kick off the season with a big tournament win. For both men and women, the field has been wide-open as six different teams have won in the last seven years for each gender.

Included in the mix this year were three girls from Temecula and one veteran male player from Fallbrook, Billy Allen. Delanie Maple from Great Oak High School and Torrey Pines High School and her partner Megan Kraft from Torrey Pines, both University of Southern California commits, became the youngest team at 16 years old to advance to the main draw in the tournament’s history. Also advancing to Saturday’s main draw was Temecula resident and 2014 Great Oak graduate, Jessica Gaffney, as well as Allen on the men’s side.

The AVP Huntington Beach Open came to an electrifying conclusion on a beautiful Cinco de Mayo afternoon in Surf City USA. The semifinals got off to a rocking start, with crowds forming early on the stands against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean and upbeat music pumping by DJ Roueche. Wrapping up the final’s fiesta were the women’s finals won by April Ross and Alix Klineman, and the men’s finals were claimed by Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb. Over the course of four days, 68,000 tournament and festival attendees helped make the 20th anniversary of the AVP Huntington Beach Open another successful Pro Tour stop and a fantastic kickoff to the 2019 season.

Established in 1983 and headquartered in Southern California, the AVP is the world’s premier beach volleyball organization. The AVP is comprised of four divisions: AVP Academy, AVPNext, the AVP Pro Tour, AVP America and their nonprofit organization, AVPFirst. With a 36-year rich history in creating, staging, and marketing some of the most innovative and engaging sporting events in North America, the AVP has successfully developed an annual circuit that is not just a sporting event, but a lifestyle as well. The AVP has been the home of some of the most respected athletes in professional sports, including gold medalists Karch Kiraly, Kent Steffes, Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, Todd Rogers, Dain Blanton and Phil Dalhausser. The 2019 AVP Pro Tour continues at the Austin Open from May 17-19. For more information, visit www.AVP.com.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.