Bountiful native Jake Gibb pulled a Joe Willie Namath, predicting he and partner Casey Patterson would make the finals of the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour at the Salt Lake City Open this weekend. Naturally, this foresight was met with rolled eyes and hearty laughs from some.
But, you'd be a fool to think the 38-year-old Gibb, a two-time cancer survivor, couldn't cash in on his promise to have a chance to win his hometown's event, the only stop in Salt Lake City on the pro beach volleyball circuit.
Gibb and Patterson did more than just get to the finals--they won the tournament, storming through the sand at downtown Liberty Park, taking all comers as they moved through the rounds.
Going into the Salt Lake City Open as the No. 2 seed, Gibb and Patterson opened with a first round match against Billy Kolinsky and Adam Roberts, which Gibb's team won in three sets. The next two rounds for Gibb's side resulted in two-set sweeps for the hometown duo.
In the semifinals, Gibb and Patterson found a tougher road ahead in the sand, defeating Tri Bourne and John Hyden in three grueling sets, taking the last set 15-13 to move on to the final.
In the final on Sunday, Aug. 10, Gibb and Patterson found themselves matched up against Ryan Doherty and Nick Lucena, a going they found rough at first. Doherty and Lucena took the first set in convincing fashion, 21-17. Gibb and Patterson turned around and won the second set 21-17, knotting the match up at one set apiece going into the deciding set.
Doherty and Lucena appeared to have this match--and tournament--in hand, ahead 14-11. But, Gibb and his partner weren't about to let their opponents come into Gibb's hometown and win. With Doherty's team leading 14-12, it appeared Doherty and Lucena won the Salt Lake City Open after Doherty smashed home a kill that appeared to have touched Gibb on the way down.
But, the chair umpire didn't see the ball touch Gibb. That set off an argument between Doherty's team and the chair ump that was never resolved. In the end, Gibb and Patterson stormed back to win the set 17-15, and the tournament.
“I told you we were going to make the finals,’’ Gibb said post-match in an interview with the Deseret News. “I didn’t know if we were going to win, but it was awesome. It’s one of my favorite wins I’ve ever had — I think I’m at about 26 in AVP tournaments and around the world — so it’s real special for me right now.’’
After all, Gibb fought and beat testicular cancer in 2010, he survived a malignant melanoma in 2002--and he played on two Summer Olympic teams in 2008 and 2012.
Gibb and Patterson are currently ranked No. 4 in the world, No. 1 in the U.S. in the FIVB world beach volleyball rankings. On the AVP Tour alone, Gibb and his partner Casey Patterson have begun this year's circuit with three top-3 finishes out of three tournaments played--giving them a No. 1 AVP Tour ranking.
If Gibb and Patterson keep playing like this, they'll be playing--and possibly winning--at the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, too.