HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – The targets are easy for Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng.
Protect your own home seashore, enhance every day and keep mentally robust. That’s what they did Sunday after they survived an epic semifinal earlier than capturing the 2023 AVP Pro Series Huntington Beach Open.
It was the fourth AVP victory for the duo as their second-generation partnership by no means seemed higher.
It took a 21-18, 21-18 victory over Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles within the championship match, rallying from deficits within the second match of the day for Hughes and Cheng to finish an unbeaten run via the match.
“Our progress is unbelievable,” Hughes mentioned. “We want to be a new team every time we step on the sand so we’re working so hard at practice, in the weight room, getting stronger. We just want to be on top of the world.”
Hughes, from neighboring Costa Mesa, and Cheng, from simply up the highway in Placentia, introduced their household and mates and placed on a present. The pair set the benchmark for school seashore volleyball at USC, performed professional collectively, break up up, after which bought again collectively late final season and there’s been little stopping them.
It’s their second consecutive victory in Huntington, although final 12 months’s occasion was performed two miles down Pacific Coast Highway in a comparatively low-key weekend. Sunday’s occasion was on the Huntington Beach Pier, the place spectators who didn’t need to battle for seats within the grandstands lined the railings to get a peek.
“It is the most special feeling in the world. It’s truly my home beach,” Hughes mentioned. “I was 8 years old and I said I want to do this for the rest of my life. Being at the pier is completely different and I’m so happy Kelly and I won it together.”
After sneaking via the primary set in opposition to Flint and Scoles, the highest seeds promptly went down, 12-4 to begin the second. Yet they discovered a option to chip away as Hughes’ protection and transition hitting made the distinction.
“It’s so cool to win here,” Cheng mentioned. “So many family and friends here, it’s so special getting to compete and perform in front of them. They all get to watch on TV but it’s so different in person. Getting to do it so close to home, I’ve got so many people here, it’s just really special.”
Unfortunately, the ESPN+ broadcast left the air after the lads’s ultimate, so that you needed to be on the seashore to be a witness to the majority of the ladies’s ultimate. Needless to say, that lit up telephones, texts and social media directed on the AVP. The glitch was found and ESPN — at fault, the AVP informed us — resumed protection effectively into the second set.
Both groups had severe battles within the semifinals. Fourth-seeded Flint and Scoles outlasted second-seeded Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss, 23-25, 21-19, 15-12 to achieve the ultimate.
At the identical time, Hughes and Cheng have been battling fifth-seeded Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon for an epic 21-19, 17-21, 23-21 victory.
“The semifinal was crazy. That’s just the definition of good volleyball right there,” Hughes mentioned. “We fought off five match points, so it’s a testament to our team’s staying mentally tough and pulling out a huge win in the semifinal and then winning in two here.”
Flint and Scoles, in search of their first AVP victory collectively, couldn’t cover their disappointment as they walked off the courtroom.
“We just have to take care of our side of the net,” Scoles mentioned. “They made some opportunities on plays that we didn’t. They’re a great team and it was an honor and a privilege to be in the finals but we’re hungry and we’re going to come back next tournament better and ready to fight.”
Cheng and Hughes break up the $14,000 winner’s prize, with Flint and Scoles sharing $8,500.
Next up for Hughes and Cheng is a European trip, the place they resume the worldwide schedule in Ostrava, Czech Republic, later this month as qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics heats up.
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