The U.S. men’s beach volleyball team of Tri Bourne and John Hyden won the bronze medal as the FIVB Sochi Open concluded Sunday evening in Russia, their third medal on the 2016 tour after a silver at the Xiamen Open and a bronze at the Doha Open last month.
Situated among the top 15 in the provisional Olympic ranking, Bourne/Hyden are on the outside looking into the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at this point, as they are the third-ranked U.S. team and each country can have a maximum of two entries. The latest rankings, as of May 2, have Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson No. 5 with 5,180 points and Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena No. 7 with 5,080, while Bourne/Hyden are 15th with 4,570 prior to the Sochi event.
The 2-1 win over the Italian side of Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula in the third-place match in Sochi may help improve their chances for Rio. The first set saw the Italians, who entered the Sochi tournament No. 2 in the FIVB World Tour rankings, run out to a quick 6-2 advantage. The Americans, No. 11 on the tour, responded with five unanswered points to start a 10-4 run, giving them a 12-10 edge. It was nip and tuck from there, with neither team building more than a two-point advantage. The U.S. duo broke a 19-19 tie to win the set, 21-19.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair. It wasn’t until the Italians ran off three unanswered points to make the score 20-17 that either had more than a two-point lead. Although Bourne/Hyden came back with two points, Ranghieri/Carambula were able to find one more and even the match at one set apiece, 21-19.
The Americans jumped out in the third set, taking a 5-1 lead. They never looked back, steadily building to a six-point advantage at 11-5, then closing out by matching their foes point for point for a 15-9 final score and the match win for the U.S.
Playing together since 2014, Bourne/Hyden won the 2015 AVP championship and also have a gold medal at the 2014 Berlin Grand Slam to their credit. A two-time Olympian in indoor volleyball, Hyden, 43, became the oldest player two win an FIVB World Tour event with the 2014 gold in Berlin, doing so at the age of 41 years, 8 months, 15 days. If they qualify for Rio, Hyden will be the oldest man ever to compete in beach volleyball at the Olympics.