International Volleyball

Crabb-Brunner survive travels, make main draw

Crabb-Brunner survive travels, make main draw

Trevor Crabb attacks in Brasilia/Volleyball World photo

It was a simple itinerary. Nothing more than, oh, to use Theo Brunner’s wild ride as an example, Xiamen to Hong Kong to Los Angeles to Chicago to Sao Paulo to Brasilia for this week’s Brasilia Elite16.

Fifty hours in total.

More if you include Trevor Crabb’s overnight in Singapore, which preceded stops in San Francisco, Houston, Sao Paolo and Brasilia.

That’s all.

And maybe even more for Brunner. His plane from Xiamen sat on the runway for five hours and he blew through his connection. His layover in Los Angeles went from brief to three-minutes-with-the-wife-as-she-drives-me-to-terminal-seven brief.

No matter.

Grab a coconut, throw in one of those cool straws that make you look like you’re on your honeymoon, mainline the electrolytes, remember what the sun looks like, how fresh air tastes, what life without ankles double their size and ubiquitous screens and blue light everywhere and pressurized cabins and flight attendants resembles.

And then, on barely 24 hours off a plane, go play the highest level beach volleyball there is in the world.

Easy peasy.

Such was the task placed on 19 teams at this week’s Brasilia Elite16, all of whom found their way from China to Brazil in all manner of roues. Struggles bond folks. And few will be bound more than the 38 individuals courageous or crazy enough to hop on a flight from China to Brazil and attempt to play world class beach volleyball.

Some even managed to do that.

Brunner and Trevor Crabb looked hardly any worse for the wear during Wednesday’s qualifier, even if Crabb “spent an hour or three,” as he said, contemplating retirement while in the San Francisco airport. For now, he’s glad he didn’t.

Twice he and Brunner matched up with a Brazilian team in the qualifier, and twice they swept, beating Gabriel Dos Reis and Pedro Sousa (21-14, 21-18) and Arthur da Silva and Adrielson Dos Santos (21-19, 23-21).

“Couple two-setters for once,” Brunner said. He has himself to thank for that. Down 16-18 in the second set, Brunner scored four straight points, siding out and blocking the following three. Their lead at 19-18 was their first of the set, and one they wouldn’t relinquish, eventually sealed with a Crabb ace down the seam.

They were the only American team in the qualifier, and now they are one of five total in the weekend’s main draw. Brunner and Crabb will join Andy Benesh and Miles Partain, and Chase Budinger and Miles Evans. Kelly Cheng and…

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