U.S. Teams Chase Olympic Qualifying Points Down Under

March 24, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
U.S. Beach Teams Chase Olympic Qualifying Points Down Under

B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800
E-Mail: bj.evans@usav.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 24, 2008) - The road to qualification for the 2008 Olympic beach volleyball tournament continues Down Under on Tuesday at the Adelaide Australia Open, the first event on the 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. A prize purse of $350,000 is on the line at the event on Glenelg Beach at Moseley Square.

The tournament is the first of 16 double-gender events on the FIVB schedule this season, including the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. The qualification period for beach volleyball started at the beginning of 2007 and does not end until July 20 of 2008. During that time, beach volleyball teams from all countries can compete in as many SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events as they can get to. They must have at least eight results to qualify. If they have more results, the top eight will be used to determine their ranking. The top 24 teams (in each gender) by July 20 will qualify for the Olympic Games. However, no country can send more than two teams; so even if the United States has three teams in the top 24, only the best two will make the trip to Beijing.

Three U.S. women's teams and six U.S. men's teams are registered for Adelaide. On the men's side, Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.), the 2007 world champions, will be the top-ranked team and are already in the main draw as are Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.). Dalhausser and Rogers will need to compete in one more event after Adelaide to reach the required eight tournaments, as will Gibb and Rosenthal. Stein Metzger (Honolulu, Hawai'i) is competing in the main draw in Adelaide with Mark Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) due to a minor injury to Mike Lambert (Kaneohe, Hawai'i), Metzger's usual partner. Williams is a native of Australia who moved to the United States when he was 9. Although Williams, who played college volleyball at UCLA, competed for Australia with its men's indoor team at the 2000 Olympic Games and in beach volleyball at the 2004 Olympic Games, he is now competing for the United States.

There are three U.S. men's teams that will have to qualify for the main draw in Adelaide: Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Casey Jennings (Las Vegas, Nev.), Nick Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Sean Scott (Kailua, Hawai'i) and Jeff Murrell (San Diego, Calif.) and Ivan Mercer (Antelope, Calif.).

In the women's tournament, Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.) are the top-ranked U.S. team competing and will be the second-ranked team overall behind Brazil's Juliana Felisberta Da Silva and Larissa Franca. Branagh and Youngs have competed in eight events and are the second-ranked U.S. team in terms of Olympic qualifying (behind Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh). However, they need to keep competing if they hope to stay ahead of the teams of Jen Boss (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Tyra Turner (Fort Meyers Beach, Fla.) and Rachel Wacholder (Laguna Beach, Calif.). Adelaide will be the eighth event for both Boss/Ross and Turner/Wacholder and both teams are in the main draw. The tournament will start Tuesday with the country quota matches.

There is more information on the FIVB beach volleyball site at www.fivb.org/EN/BeachVolleyball/index.asp.