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Everyone plays everyone at King of the Beach

Taylor Crabb was one of four players to watch in the final.
Hermosa Beach, California, USA, October 8, 2020 - The 2020 Olympics have not yet happened. Such is the state of the athletic world today. But in Hermosa Beach on September 22, all eyes were already on the Paris Games of 2024.

All eyes were on the team of Tri Bourne and Taylor Crabb, two of the most talented players in the United States, childhood friends, long presumed to be the next big partnership in American beach volleyball after the current quad is over.

That potential future partnership was in the finals of a King of the Beach tournament put on by Maddison and Riley McKibbin, two brothers and talented players in their own right who launched a viral beach volleyball YouTube channel that has garnered millions of views.

In the finals, Bourne and Crabb were up against a team nobody had ever seen before: Trevor Crabb and Stafford Slick.

Such is the fun and innovative nature of the King of the Beach format: Everyone plays with everyone.

While the event itself was mostly closed off to spectators due to Covid, the McKibbins have released videos one by one on each of the pools, including a pair of hype videos promoting the event and the finals, six in all.

“We used six different cameras, which includes the two drones,” Riley McKibbin, the elder of the two, said. “We wanted to shoot the event the way that we like viewing the game and test out a few experimental angles and vantage points to give the viewer a different experience when watching our sport.”

>>> Go to the The McKibbin Brothers channel on YouTube.

It was different – in a good way – in virtually every way you can imagine. In a typical beach volleyball production, you can’t hear much of the dialogue between the players on the court, much less from the ones off of it. In the McKibbin world of beach volleyball production, you can hear every last syllable of trash talk, every hilarious comment.

“Oh my God! Tri can’t even beat a writer and a guy from Canada!” Trevor Crabb crowed to the camera, after his current partner, Tri Bourne, lost to Travis Mewhirter (the aforementioned writer) and Chaim Schalk (that guy from Canada) in the first pool.

It’s quips like those that make these videos indelible, one of a kind. For the past two years, Trevor Crabb has competed alongside Bourne. For the past 31, they’ve been close friends, both raised on the Hawai’i island of Oahu.

In a King of the Beach, however?

The partnership becomes a brotherly rivalry.

The Crabbs had one of those, already. For two years, the two played together, becoming one of the top teams on the AVP Tour, making every single semifinal in the 2017 season, including three finals. An ignominious split made for, without a doubt, the most heated rivalry on the AVP, making every match between the two can’t-miss theater. The disdain for one another has dwindled, and the two are brothers and best friends once more, but still: there is nothing like a sibling rivalry.

The King of the Beach featured both a Crabb vs. Crabb and a Crabb-Crabb pairing once more. Twice in the semifinals, with Avery Drost and Mewhirter, did the two play against one another, and again in the finals. And, in one match in the semifinals, they played alongside one another for the first time since September of 2016.

“It’s very exciting to see the Crabb brothers playing with each other,” the event’s commentator, Landon Tusieseina, said during the semifinals. “Me and all of our friends, we love seeing them together on the same side of the net.”

They were just as good on the same side of the net as they were remembered to be, winning 21-15, setting themselves up to both break pool and, much to the delight of the McKibbins, setting up a Crabb on Crabb final that is a fan favourite in the United States.

It wouldn’t disappoint.

There was no shortage of storylines to follow in the final: the potential 2024 partnership of Bourne and Taylor Crabb, another in a growing list of Crabb on Crabb matchups, Bourne’s redemption from going 0-3 in pool to being selected to compete in the finals.

Ah, yes. That deserves mentioning: Bourne didn’t win a single match in pool one, which featured Taylor Crabb, Mewhirter, and Schalk. 
“You don’t want to win too much early on,” he joked to the camera. “Lose early, win late. Just watch.”

In the finals, Bourne’s words proved prescient, as he and Taylor Crabb beat Trevor Crabb and Stafford Slick, whom Trevor selected as his partner for the final.

“I think these are the best matchups we could have hoped for,” American coach Rich Lambourne said. “You have what people would consider a potential partnership going forward on one side with Tri and Taylor, who seem to have figured some things out since they didn’t do that great this morning. Then you have your social media enemies turned co-competitors in Trevor and Stafford Slick.”

In the end, it would be the team many hope to see in the future, Bourne and Taylor Crabb, who won it all, 21-19, 21-19. It would be Bourne who ended it, on two straight aces.

“Green light,” Taylor said. “Go for whatever you like.”

“Coach asked for aces,” Bourne said. “I heard something like ‘Ace’ and I went for it.”

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