COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The FIVB Under 21 Beach World Championships begins this week in Switzerland and the World Tour swings into Turkey.
The United States will be represented by four pairs, two men's and two women's, at the U21 Championship in Lucerne, Switzerland. The FIVB World Tour heads into the home stretch for the next Olympic qualification date, June 13, in Antalya, Turkey.
With four tournaments remaining before the next chance countries have to pick up Olympic quota spots, it's crunch time for the top three American teams to secure higher placements on the provisional Olympic rankings or to be one of the top two USA teams.
Countries can qualify a maximum of two teams per gender and on June 13 when the rankings close, the Top 15 will secure a quota spot for their country. The rankings exclude Brazil, due to the country gaining all four of their spots via winning the 2015 World Championship and host country bids, for both genders.
|6||Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross||11||5,290||5||Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson||15||5,180|
|14||Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat||16||4,410||7||Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena||10||5,080|
|18||Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day||18||3,980||t12||John Hyden/Tri Bourne||16||4,730|
As a third-ranked American team, Hyden and Bourne plus Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day are trying to make up ground in the four tournaments remaining. For Hyden and Bourne (4,730 points), they'll need to continue to medal in order to catch up to Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson (5,180 points) and Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (5,080 points).
On the women's side, after failing to finish higher than ninth place in the last four tournaments, Kessy and Day have not been able to improve their points. Teams keep their 12 best finishes for the rankings and the duo needs to finish higher than ninth to drop lower finishes. As other countries and teams improve, American teams can move in the Olympic rankings even if they don't compete at the tournament that week.
Following the Sochi Open, second ranked USA team Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat fell one spot to 14th. Kessy and Day dropped to 18th and their hope of improving before the June 13 deadline means they need to finish higher than ninth the next four weeks. Kessy and Day are the only women's team playing in the Antalya Open, allowing them to gain significant points if they can win the tournament before heading into the Cincinnati Open on May 16. All of the Olympic hopeful teams are slated to play in Cincinnati, further increasing the intensity of the qualification process.
FOUR FIVB TOURNAMENTS REMAIN IN NEXT OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION CUTOFF
Just three American teams will play at the Antalya Open this week in Turkey, two of which are racing to improve their provisional Olympic rankings. Fresh off a bronze at the Sochi Open, John Hyden and Tri Bourne will look to once again boost their points and try to become one of the top two U.S. men's teams in the next four tournaments, before the June 13 deadline which represents the next chance for countries to earn quota spots to the Olympics.
Derek Olson and Jeremy Casebeer will make an appearance at the tournament, through the qualification bracket. Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day are the lone USA women's team playing, they are seeded eighth.
U21 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS BEGINS IN SWITZERLAND
The United States has sent two men's and two women's teams to the 2016 Under 21 Beach World Championships, beginning this week in Lucerne, Switzerland. Winners of the USA Team Trials held in February are Nathanael Vander Meer/Ben Vaught and Sarah Sponcil/Torrey Van Winden.
In qualification play are: Cam Rodrigues/Kyle Skinner and Abril Bustamante/Zana Muno. The qualification tournament will begin on May 11 and the main draw pool play begins the 12th. Semifinal and finals matches will be on May 16. A total of 32 teams will play in the main draw, the best three from each of the eight pools will advance to the single elimination rounds.
USC WINS INAUGURAL NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
USC had a sweeping victory at the inaugural NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship, dropping just one match in its four duals at the tournament. The Trojans beat Florida State in the semifinals, 3-1, and once again for the title, 3-0.
The first ever National Championship for the sport, eight teams competed in the three-day tournament hosted in Gulf Shores, Ala.
WEEK IN REVIEW
FIVB Sochi Open
- John Hyden/Tri Bourne won bronze, their third medal of Olympic qualification
- Tied for ninth: Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day; Jennifer Fopma/Brittany Hochevar
AVP Huntington Beach Open
- Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson won their first AVP tournament of the season, improving on silver in the opener in New Orleans
- April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings won their season opener on the Tour, their 10th AVP win and second at HBO
- Finished second: Angela Bensend/Geena Urango; Taylor Crabb/Trevor Crabb
- Tied for third: Kendra Vanzwieten/Kimberly DiCello and Lane Carico/Summer Ross; Ryan Doherty/John Mayer and Billy Allen/Theo Brunner
UPCOMING EVENTS | Add to your schedule
May 10-15 Antalya Open
May 11-16 U21 World Championships
May 17-22 Cincinnati Open
May 20-22 NVL Port St. Lucie
May 24-29 Moscow Grand Slam
June 2-5 AVP Seattle
June 7-12 Hamburg Grand Slam
June 14-19 Olsztyn Grand Slam
June 16-19 AVP New York City
June 23-25 NVL San Antonio
June 28-July 3 Porec Major
July 1-3 NORCECA North Bay
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