BEACH VOLLEYBALL: ‘THINGS JUST CLICKED’
Jeremy Casebeer’s days as a volleyball bridesmaid are over.
A CIF finalist at Santa Barbara High a dozen years ago and an AVP finalist just a month ago, Casebeer earned his first Tour championship on Sunday, combining with Canadian Chaim Schalk to capture the Seattle Open.
Casebeer had 18 kills in 24 attempts with no hitting errors in a 21-19, 21-18 victory over Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb in the tournament final. It avenged a 21-16, 21-16 defeat to that same team in Austin, Tex. on May 19.
“Things just clicked,” Casebeer said during Sunday’s Amazon Prime post-match interview. “We’ve had good runs in previous tournaments, but this all happened and it feels damn, damn, good.”
He’s played in 56 tour events since making his AVP debut as a UCLA freshman in 2008 with former UCSB star Andy McGuire, playing in the qualifying rounds in Long Beach. He qualified four times during his rookie season on the Tour in 2013, finishing as high as seventh in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Casebeer, who turned 30 in January, reached his first AVP final in 2016 with Sean Rosenthal, beating Crabb and his brother, Trevor, in the semifinals at New York. They lost in the final to Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena.
He had placed third in nine different AVP Tournaments before reaching the championship match in two of his last three events.
“It’s been a long road,” Casebeer said, “but had tons of support.”
Casebeer had four blocks and four service aces in the final. He had cranked up his service during the semifinals, ripping nine aces in a 21-19, 21-13 victory over Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger.
“That’s one of the best serving matches I’ve seen, really,” Schalk said. “Hats off to my partner. Took me for a good ride there.”
Casebeer had 25 aces in the tournament.
“It was just our game plan,” he said. “Both of us were coming out real aggressive, nice and loose. I think we both play way better that way. It all came together. It felt great.”
Casebeer led Santa Barbara High to the finals of the 2007 CIF-Southern Section Division 2 Tournament, losing to Corona del Mar in the final. He and teammate Carson Clark shared most valuable player honors in the Channel League that year, with both players making the All-CIF-SS Division 2 first team.
He continued on to UCLA, leading the Bruins in kills during his senior season of 2012. He also formed a beach partnership that year with his former Santa Barbara High teammate, Will Montgomery, playing in five domestic events. They twice finished 17th, and also represented the United States in the World University Games.
Casebeer reunited with McGuire on the AVP Tour in 2013, playing six events with a best finish of seventh. He was voted as the AVP’s Most Improved Player in 2014, getting third in Cincinnati with new partner Casey Jennings, and as its best server in 2016.
He had that working for him at maximum force this weekend in Seattle.
“Jeremy was just a beast,” Schalk said.