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Gibb standing tall on beach volleyball tour

VOLLEYBALL: Costa Mesa resident will attempt to defend Manhattan Beach Open title with new partner.

August 10, 2006|By Matt Szabo

Standing 6-foot-7, Jake Gibb used to be a force on the basketball court.

These days, the Costa Mesa resident is quite a force at the volleyball net.

Gibb looks to defend his 2005 Assn. of Volleyball Professionals Manhattan Beach Open championship this weekend, starting in the main draw on Friday with partner Sean Rosenthal.

"It's the granddaddy of them all, but we've got some pretty gnarly teams out there this year," Gibb said. "We'll have to play well."

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It has been quite a rise to the top for Gibb, last year's AVP Tour Most Valuable Player. Born and raised in Utah, he didn't even start playing volleyball until he was 21 years old.

"I just grew up playing basketball," said Gibb, now 30. "In Utah, playing volleyball is kind of a women's sport and there aren't a lot of opportunities."

Gibb attended the University of Utah but failed to make the basketball squad.

"When I couldn't play Division I basketball, I just started playing [volleyball] with some of my friends," he said.

Gibb said he's now one of the few players on the AVP Tour who didn't play college volleyball. But that hasn't hurt his success on the tour, where he was named Most Improved Player in 2004 and won four tournaments — tops on the tour — last year.

He also won more than $110,000 in domestic prize money in 2005.

That was with former teammate Stein Metzger. This year, Gibb has had continued success with new partner Sean Rosenthal.

Gibb is primarily the blocker on defense, with Rosenthal the defender who stays back.

The teammates started off their partnership on the right path, winning the Fort Lauderdale Open on April 2 in their first tour tournament together.

More recently, Gibb and Rosenthal finished second in the Henkel Grand Chelem tournament in Paris in late July, as part of the Federation Internationale de Volleyball tour.

But Gibb and Rosenthal then finished tied for ninth in the A1 Grand Slam event, completed Sunday in Austria, showing how tough it is to consistently place high. The pairing is 15-7 in matches this season.

"We're kind of a streaky team," Gibb said. "We'll finish first, then we'll finish fifth or seventh or something. But I feel like we're grooving right now.

"I'm really having a good time playing with [Rosenthal]," Gibb said. "He's the most athletic American we have in beach volleyball right now."

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