Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen were one of five U.S. women’s teams to start this week’s four-star FIVB beach volleyball tournament in Warsaw, Poland, and the only duo that had to get through qualification to get to the main draw.
Yet there they were on Saturday, playing in the gold medal match against Australia’s Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho. Clancy and Artacho claimed their fifth gold on the world tour with the 2-0 win (22-20, 21-17), but the silver was nonetheless an important accomplishment for Stockman and Larsen and capped an incredible tournament. In two four-star tournaments together this season, Stockman and Larsen finished 17th both times. Their previous best finish in a four-star event was fifth place in Las Vegas in 2018. They also finished fifth at a five-star tournament in Gstaad, Switzerland, in 2018.
Stockman and Larsen faced an uphill battle in Warsaw, having to battle against compatriots Betsi Flint and Emily Day in a country quota match to advance into the tournament. They came away with a 2-1 win to advance into the qualification bracket, where they defeated Russia’s Ksenia Dabizha and Daria Rudkyh, 2-0.
They then went undefeated in pool play and bested top U.S. contenders April Ross and Alix Klineman and the formidable Brazilian team of Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa, who won the world tour final last year, in the semifinals, 2-0, to reach the championship match.
The two led in the first set but couldn’t fight off a surging attack from Clancy and Artacho, who were seeded fifth in the tournament. The Australians continued their push in the second set and although Stockman, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Larsen, from San Diego, California, fought back at three match points, they eventually succumbed and took second.