U.S. Beach Teams Prepare for Next Test
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 7, 2009) - With only a few days of rest, several USA Volleyball beach teams jump back into action starting Wednesday when they will compete in the Gstaad Grand Slam event in Switzerland.
The tournament, which is part of the SWATCH FIVB World Tour, comes just two days after the conclusion of the SWATCH FIVB World Championships which ran from June 26-July 5 in Stavanger, Norway.
U.S. teams had a strong showing in Stavanger, with Jen Kessy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) wining gold in the women's division, and Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) taking bronze on the men's side. Several U.S. players also put up impressive individual statistics, which were recorded for the first time in the tournament's history.
Dalhausser had an outstanding tournament, leading the men's field with a .656 hitting percentage, finishing second in aces (14 in 16 games, .88 average) and third in blocks (35 in 16 games, 2.19 avg.). Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) followed closely behind, placing fourth in blocks (26 in 12 games, 2.17 avg.) and fourth in hitting percentage (.628). Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) finished seventh in aces with nine in 12 games (.75 average) and 12th in blocks with 14 in 12 games (1.17 average). Casey Jennings (Las Vegas, Nev.), Rogers and Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Fla.) dominated the field in the digs category. Jennings finished first with 68 in 12 games (5.67 avg.), Rogers followed in third with 59 in 16 games (3.69 avg.) and Rosenthal rounded out the trio in fifth place with 55 in 12 games (4.58 avg.).
Kessy dominated the women's field, finishing first in hitting percentage (.593), 11th in blocks (11 in 18 games, .61 avg.) and eighth in aces (13 in 18 games, .72 avg.). Ross, who was named the World Championships MVP, also put up strong numbers, finishing first in aces with 26 in 18 games (1.44 avg.), and 11th in digs with 54 in 18 games (3.00 avg.). Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) finished with 59 digs in 14 games (4.21 avg.) good for eighth overall, and a .546 hitting percentage, good for sixth in the field.
The 2009 Gstaad Grand Slam, which is being held held July 7-12, is the first post-World Championship event on the 2009 international beach volleyball calendar. The main draw will feature the U.S. men's teams of Dalhausser/ Rogers, Jennings/Fuerbringer, and Gibb/Rosenthal, and the U.S. women's teams of Angie Akers (Fort Wayne, Ind.)/Tyra Turner (Fort Meyers Beach, Fla.), Branagh/Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.), and Ross/ Kessy.
Ross and Kessy are the top seed and will take on Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba on July 8. Branagh and Youngs are seeded fourth and will take on Galina Boyko and Anastasia Vasina of Russia on July 8. Akers and Turner are seeded sixth and will face-off against Candelas Bibiana and Mayra Garcia of Mexico.
Ashley Ivy (Arlington, Tex.) and Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.) played in the qualification round earlier today and lost 2-1 (15-21, 21-18, 15-13) to Karin Trussel and Annik Skirvan of Switzerland.
The men's draw has yet to be released but Nick Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Brad Keenan (Westminster, Calif.) will compete in the qualification round on July 8. As the 21st seed, they will take on 12th-seeded Jorre Andre Kjemperud and Vegard Hoidalen of Norway.
The United States has a long history of success in the Gstaad Grand Slam event. Dalhausser and Rogers captured gold in 2007, along with Misty May-Trainor and Kerry Walsh, who also won gold in 2006, 2004, 2003 and 2002 and a bronze medal in 2001.
Elaine Youngs will be attempting to win her third Gstaad Grand Slam medal with three different partners. She took the bronze medal in 2004 playing alongside Holly McPeak, and grabbed a silver medal in 2001 playing with Barbara Fontana.
Matches can be seen live at Universal Sports.