It’s a little strange. I look up in the stands and I see people from my high school and my local church and people I went to grade school with. —Jake Gibb
SALT LAKE CITY — There’s a distinct home-court advantage for at least one team at the Pro Beach Volleyball AVP Salt Lake City Open being played this weekend at Liberty Park.
Jake Gibb, who grew up in Bountiful as the youngest of 11 children and attended the University of Utah, and his partner, Casey Patterson, who played volleyball at BYU a decade ago, are the crowd favorites, and that energy helped them through a couple of their victories Saturday.
Gibb-Patterson, the No. 2-seeded men’s team, defeated Casey Jennings-Jeremy Casebeer 21-12, 21-17 in the morning, then came back to beat Brad Keenan-John Mayer in a hard-fought match in the afternoon 21-18, 28-26.
“It’s awesome — we feel that energy and love it,’’ Gibb said of the crowd response. “It’s a little strange. I look up in the stands and I see people from my high school and my local church and people I went to grade school with. It’s weird for me when you’re used to playing in front of fans in Germany and Austria and Brazil that you have no clue (who they are). It’s just a different atmosphere.’’
The Gibb-Patterson duo is one of two unbeaten men’s teams left, along with 4th-seeded Ryan Doherty and Nick Lucena, who defeated top-seeded Tri Bourne and John Hyden, 25-23, 19-21, 15-12.
Gibb and Patterson will play at noon Sunday against the survivor of morning matches in the modified double-elimination format. The winner of that match will play in the 3 p.m. men’s final, while the loser gets third place.
Gibb gave credit to his teammate for their win Saturday afternoon.
“I started playing a little tight and looking at the score too much, but Casey came up huge and really bailed me out,’’ he said. “He just got super-aggressive and it paid off.’’
“Everyone was siding out so well, so I decided to go for it,’’ Patterson said. “You have to be able to make big plays like that as a team to win matches like this.’’
On the women’s side, top-seeded Keri Walsh Jennings and April Ross advanced with two more victories, winning 21-14, 21-13 in the morning and 21-18, 21-15 over the 13th-seeded team of Emily Stockman and Traci Weamer, who had two upsets to get to the third round.
Jennings and Ross have won both tournaments this year and haven’t lost a set yet in this tournament, but Jennings believes there is room for improvement.
“We’re happy, but definitely not satisfied,’’ Jennings said. “Our rhythm hasn’t been there yet. We need to get some consistency going. The ball moves different in the Utah air. We’ve had too many unforced errors.’’
The other unbeaten team in the women’s bracket is the No. 2-seeded team of Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat. They had their second three-set victory of the tournament Saturday afternoon, defeating Emily Day and Summer Ross 19-21, 21-15, 15-10.
The women’s semifinals will be at 10:55 a.m. with the finals set for 1:30 p.m. The men’s and women’s finals can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.