“Old dogs” with beach volleyball tricks


Stretching for Mikasa at the Fort Lauderdale Major is 45-year old John Hyden

Fort Lauderdale, USA, March 2, 2018 - In the 74th meeting between Jake Gibb and John Hyden, the players who are a combined 87 years old bounded around like puppies in an epic elimination match on Friday at the Fort Lauderdale Major.

And the old dog still has some tricks to display.

The 45-year-old Hyden combined with Theo Brunner to outlast the 42-year-old Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb, 2-1 (14-21, 21-19, 18-16), to reach the quarterfinals of the season’s first Beach Major Series event. 

“We know each other so well, so it’s a matter of who makes that play,” Hyden said. “He comes through on a lot of them, I come through on a lot of them and in that game it happened to be me. It comes down to a point playing that guy every time.”

In fact, it took six match points before Hyden and Brunner, playing in their first tournament together, pulled off a comeback victory for the third consecutive match. And they were on the ropes when they trailed, 17-14, in the second set.

The rivalry began in 2004 when Johnny H-Bomb, playing with Adam Jewell, faced The Big Nasty, playing alongside Andy Witt in the AVP Tempe Open on the American domestic tour. Gibb admitted he had “no clue” about the first time they met and Hyden pretty much nailed it.

Hyden was also certain that Gibb holds the all-time edge and he nailed that one too. The rivalry now stands at 46-28 in favor of Gibb, though Hyden has won the last three times they’ve met on the court. Hyden and Ryan Doherty had to forfeit an AVP match in Seattle in 2017.

“Age really isn’t a factor when you’re on the court. We’re conditioned, so it doesn’t matter,” Gibb said. “He just never gives up. He’s a grinder. That’s what I don’t like, but it’s what I respect about him. We’ve had a lot of battles.”

42-year old Jake Gibb (right) with American partner Taylor Crabb at the Fort Lauderdale Major

Interestingly, it would seem that the two might make an effective pairing with Hyden an all-time great defender and Gibb an all-time great blocker, and they’ve talked about it from time to time over the years.

“It doesn’t make sense with him on the right side, I’m on the right, and we’re both average on the left,” Hyden said. “But we did discuss the other day playing in the dinosaur tournament.”

They’re proving they’re not exactly fossils just yet.