The wait is over.

Two years after retiring from basketball, and a year since making his beach volleyball debut, Chase Budinger won his first AVP crown alongside partner Casey Patterson, topping Ryan Doherty and Miles Evans 25-23, 19-21, 15-7, Sunday at the men’s final of the 2019 AVP Hermosa Beach Open.

The duo came into the 2019 AVP Hermosa Beach Open with 14 AVP titles to their collective name—with Patterson contributing all 14. But after an outstanding performance from the three seeds—with Budinger tallying seven blocks, and Patterson collecting a career-best 11 kills—that number rose to 16.

“The first one felt amazing, and this one felt just as good,” Patterson said of his 15th title. “It’s been a little bit of a drought for me, so finding the right partner is key, and getting healthy is key, and those two things I found. Being able to win in the end is such a special thing.”

Budinger and Patterson beat 10th-seeded Doherty and Evans earlier in the tournament, and after the latter advanced through the contenders bracket, faced a familiar opponent in the final. That familiarity ultimately aided Budinger and Patterson, as each noted that their goals coming into the final match were to replicate the performance in the first match.

A Budinger service error at the end of the second set, however, sent the match to a third, putting a wrench in the third-seeded pair’s plans. Budinger and Patterson gathered under their umbrella during the break. The message between the partners – who are in their first year of playing together – was to continue to be aggressive, particularly at the service line.

“You never want to miss a serve on game point, but we came into this tournament saying that we’re going to be aggressive on the service line,” Budinger said. “I told Casey that we’ve been really good in third sets, and that’s what I did, and that’s what Casey did, and we got rolling after that.”

Doherty and Evans, after a remarkable run in their first tournament together, could do nothing but watch after what felt like every attempt at getting back in the match was met with the outstretched arms of Budinger.

Early in the first set, Budinger and Patterson struggled to land shots in the court, but managed to hang around. The duo had five chances to claim the first set, and did so after an errant shot from Miles Evans landed just outside the tape to give the third seeds a 25-23 victory.

Doherty and Evans would fight back though, as the second set featured lead change after lead change. Back-to-back errors from Patterson and Budinger – the latter of which was a service error from Budinger – gave Doherty and Evans a 21-19 triumph in the second, keeping their chances alive.

In the end, though, Doherty and Evans’ inexperience proved fatal, as Patterson and Budinger pulled away in the third set, much to the delight of the ample Hermosa Beach crowd.

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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