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Tri Bourne and Jake Gibb making partnership work in beach volleyball

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Tri Bourne, left, slapped hands with teammate Jake Gibb during their match today against Switzerland.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Tri Bourne, left, slapped hands with teammate Jake Gibb during their match today against Switzerland.

TOKYO >> Americans Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne got thrown together so quickly on the eve of the Tokyo Games they didn’t even have time to figure out the traditional post-point high-five that all beach volleyball teams do, with varying degrees of choreography.

“I’ve learned to just leave the hand out there and let him do whatever he wants,” said Bourne, who flew to Japan eight days ago to replace Gibb’s original partner, Taylor Crabb, after he tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival.

“I just slap away,” Gibb said after the U.S. pair beat Switzerland 21-19, 23-21 for their second win in as many matches.

Beach volleyball partnerships are more like a marriage than a business, with pairs spending most of the year together traveling, eating at a table for two and trying to work in harmony on the court. Many players say they spend more time with their teammate than with their actual spouse.

And, like marriages, some of them don’t work out.

“It’s like high school dating,” said American Phil Dalhausser, who won a gold medal in Beijing with Todd Rogers, then paired up with Nick Lucena when Rogers retired after the London Games.

If finding the right beach volleyball partner is like dating, then consider Gibb and Bourne the couple who hooked up at a party and then decided to go to the prom. Although they had never competed together before their Tokyo debut, they guaranteed themselves at least one more match with the win over Switzerland today.

“I always expect a lot out of myself, so it doesn’t matter who I am on the court with,” Gibb said. “I mean, this is the Olympics. We’ve worked hard for this, both of us.”

Just not together.

Gibb said the match was a B-minus, but that was an improvement over the C-plus performance in their opener on Sunday night, when they hit the sand after practicing together just three times.

“Listen, we both play beach volleyball for a living; we know how to play this sport,” Gibb said. “Yeah, we need to grow. But, absolutely, we can grow. We’d better grow.”

Bourne’s Tokyo hustle was also a challenge for Lululemon, which makes the team’s uniforms. But sure enough, the newest Olympian was able to take the sand for their matches wearing a tank top with his own name on it.

Bourne (Academy of the Pacific) had been prepared to wear (Punahou alum) Crabb’s if it had come to that.

“I would have been showing a little midriff maybe,” the 6-foot-5 Bourne said, referring to the 6-foot man he replaced. “But I would have worn it.”

OTHER HAWAII ATHLETES

>> Britain rallied from a 21-0 deficit to beat the United States 26-21 in a men’s quarterfinal rugby sevens match on Tuesday. Martin Iosefo (Leilehua) did not have a try in the defeat.

The U.S. and South Africa will meet for the second time in two days, this time for fifth place. Defending champion Fiji will meet New Zealand for the title.

>> Former Hawaii pitcher Kaia Parnaby gave up four runs in 3 1⁄3 innings for Australia in a 4-1 loss to Mexico in softball on Monday.

Three other former Rainbow Wahine playing for the Aussies also played. Third baseman Stacey Porter and shorstop Clare Warwick each batted 1-for-3 and Rachel Lack went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter before going to play in left.

>> The U.S. men’s volleyball team rebounded from a loss to Russia with a 25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 25-23 victory over Tunisia today. Setter Micah Christenson (Kamehameha) started along with libero Erik Shoji (Punahou). Kawika Shoji (‘Iolani) is the team’s backup setter.

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