COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 1, 2014) – Four U.S. men’s beach volleyball teams advanced from pool play while three women’s teams went a combined 5-1 on Thursday at the FIVB Shanghai Grand Slam.
The biggest story of Shanghai has been John Hyden (Pensacola, Fla.) and Tri Bourne (Aiea, Hawaii), who lost in qualifying on Tuesday to U.S. teammates Ryan Doherty (Toms River, N.J.) and Nick Lucena (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), but won a lucky loser drawing and made it into the Main Draw
Hyden and Bourne, seeded No. 28, went 3-0 in pool play, including a win over Brazil’s fifth seeds Vitor Felipe and Evandro Oliveira (22-24, 21-12, 15-7 in 58 minutes).
“It feels great! I feel blessed for the opportunity to play again,” Bourne said in an FIVB press release.
“It’s great, but we are not satisfied, we got the whole tournament to go,” Hyden added. “So sitting in ninth, we are happy right now, but we want to do the best we can here.”
Having already secured their best finish at any World Tour event, the Americans were ready for even tougher challenge ahead.
“We have to take one step at a time. We want a medal, just like everybody else. Sitting at ninth, we can get some rest, and every match is going to be a tough match, and it can go either way,” Hyden said.
Defending Shanghai champions Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Casey Patterson (Van Nuys, Calif.), seeded No. 8, also went 3-0 in pool play, defeating China’s No. 9 tandem of Chen Cheng and Li Jian in the final match on Thursday, 21-13, 19-21, 15-11.
“It was a good match for us, we had to play very hard,” Patterson said. “They are a very good team. It’s the first time we play either of those guys. The blocker is very good and I think he is probably the best player in the Chinese teams.”
Dropping the first set easily, the home duo fought bravely in the second. Chen stopped ice Gibb to give the Chinese team an 18-16 advantage and they held to 20-19 before a serving error of Gibb awarded the second set to China. In the tie-breaker, the Americans jumped to a 9-5 lead and went on to clinch the victory in 52 minutes.
“Maybe we sat back a little after a good win (in the first set). When you won by good points, it's easy to be maybe a little too relaxed. My passing was a little bit lazy, maybe I was not as crispy shooting the ball,” Patterson added. “We focused for the third because they played much better in the second. There were a lot of rallies and I think we won most of them, because we were working really hard.”
Patterson was eager to repeat the title winning feat in Shanghai, where he captured his first gold medal ever in the World Tour.
“It's the only gold for me and it's very special to me,” he said. “It's our goal (to win the gold) and winning the pool means getting one step closer. Our goal is now to be really focused, find out who we need to play, one game, one point at a time, and hopefully repeat the gold again.”
Doherty and Lucena, seeded No. 25, went 1-2 in pool play and advanced to the first round of single-elimination where they will face Germany’s No. 19 Markus Böckermann and Mischa Urbatzka.
The women’s main draw began on Thursday. The U.S. teams of Kerri Walsh Jennings (Saratoga, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.), seeded No. 3 won both of their first two matches as did No. 13 Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Brooke Sweat (Fort Meyers, Fla.).
Emily Day (Torrance, Calif.) and Summer Ross (Carlsbad, Calif.), seeded No. 12, went 1-1 in a difficult pool. They opened the day by defeating Germany’s No. 21 Victoria Bieneck and Julia Großner, 17-21, 23-21, 15-10 in 54 minutes. In the afternoon, they fell to Brazil’s No. 28 Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli, 21-10, 21-9 in 30 minutes. On Friday, they will conclude pool play against Brazil’s No. 5 Maria Clara Salgado and Carolina Salgado.
On Wednesday, the U.S. team of Jennifer Fopma (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Whitney Pavlik (Laguna Beach, Calif.), seeded No. 1 in the qualifying bracket, fell to Barbora Hermannova and Martina Bonnerova of Czech Republic, 21-18, 21-15 in 43 minutes and did not advance.