Potent pedigree


POSTED: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Volleyball isn't just a sport, it's practically a family gene for Punahou senior Taylor Crabb.

The 6-foot-2 outside hitter has grown up with the sport and has the bloodline to prove it.

Crabb's cousin, Lindsey Berg, sets for the U.S. Olympic women's team; his uncle, Tony Crabb, was an assistant coach for the 1984 Olympic men's team that won the gold medal; and brother Trevor is a redshirt freshman at Long Beach State, where he will soon be joined by Taylor.

“;Long Beach State was the best fit for me. My older brother is there, so it'd feel most like home,”; said Taylor Crabb, who also received offers from UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and USC. “;I'm excited 'cause he's going to be there with me and it's part of the reason why I chose Long Beach. We're both really competitive with each other and we both don't like losing.”;

The impressive athletic family's legacy only grows larger as Crabb racks up the accolades in his high school career. He has played a major role in leading the Buffanblu to a 9-0 record in the ILH and winning the Best of the West Invitational, arguably the most prestigious high school boys volleyball tournament in the nation.

Crabb also helped the Punahou basketball team place third in the state, and he won the Merv Lopes Slam Dunk contest with a 360-degree dunk off the backboard.

“;I play basketball for fun, but volleyball is my No. 1 sport,”; Crabb said.

With a humble attitude and a competitive, tenacious edge, he has become one of the most widely recruited volleyball players in the state.

Crabb grew up with the sport in the gym and on the beach. His father, Chris, who has played beach volleyball with the Outrigger Canoe Club's volleyball team for more than 40 years, recalls using a futon as a volleyball net in their living room when his son was just 3.

“;My dad probably doesn't know it, but I look up to him a lot,”; Taylor said when asked about his role model. “;He makes subtle comments, but is not an overbearing parent or coach.”;

“;I didn't really push him at (volleyball), he did it because he loved it,”; Chris Crabb said. “;He was always around it, always played it and started from a very young age.”;

Besides his father, a number of athletes and coaches have also contributed to Crabb's development. Former UH volleyball player Jason Salmeri lived with the Crabb family for a while and helped the boys' basic volleyball skills. Crabb's father and uncle also coached him during Outrigger's club season.

After being named Best of the West MVP last month and one of the top 34 underclassmen to watch as a junior by Volleyball Magazine in 2009, it wouldn't be a long shot to say Crabb will make the Fab 50 list in his final high school season.

According to Crabb, his biggest accomplishment was making the U.S. Boys Youth National Volleyball Team, which placed 10th at the FIVB Youth World Championships in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy, in September.

“;It was a real privilege and honor to even be asked to try out for the team. To represent your nation is just unbelievable at this age,”; said Crabb, who played at the libero position.

The experience only fueled his desire to play professionally overseas in the future. For now Crabb is focused on the present and is determined to maintain Punahou's undefeated winning streak this season.

Despite recognition as an all-state setter for Punahou last season, Crabb has proved to be an offensive threat as an outside hitter this year.

“;If a team were a LEGO set, he'd be a moldable LEGO piece because he fits in any position,”; Punahou coach Rick Tune said. “;He does a little bit of everything for us. He steadies us out, passes half the court, sets, hits; he's one of those players.”;

Crabb hasn't been 100 percent since he injured his ankle in a basketball game against 'Iolani this past season. The point guard landed on someone's foot during the game and suffered a third-degree sprain, tearing ligaments inside and outside his ankle. For the past five weeks, Crabb has been undergoing rehab with trainers, but is now able to focus on strengthening the muscles near the injury.

Despite the setback, Crabb is a tough-nosed competitor who always steps up to the challenge, according to Tune.

“;He hates to lose and is never afraid of a challenge; that's what makes him a competitor,”; Tune said. “;Long Beach State is getting a quality teammate and a quality player.”;

This week, Crabb and his Buffanblu team are preparing for another competitive tournament, hosted by Punahou. The Clash of the Titans will feature the defending state champions in Division I (Punahou) and Division II (Hawaii Baptist) as well as two prestigious programs from Southern California — Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor.

“;We played Corona del Mar in the Best of the West tournament. Their two outsides are my really good friends and they're real competitive; we always battle it out,”; Crabb said.

Punahou will open the tournament against No. 21 Newport Harbor at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Hemmeter Fieldhouse. Eighteenth-ranked Hawaii Baptist and No. 31 Corona Del Mar will face off in the 5 p.m. match.