Home USA Volleyball Features Successful Weekend B...

Successful Weekend Boosts Olympics Excitement

By Bill Kauffman | June 18, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Jake Gibb receives serve with teammate Sean Rosenthal in the foreground

Bill Kauffman
USA Volleyball Communications
Phone: 719-228-6800
Email: bill.kauffman@usav.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 18, 2012) – USA Volleyball experienced large doses of success in Brazil, France and Italy this past weekend to instill the Olympic Games spirit with it less than 40 days from the Opening Ceremony in London.

The weekend excitement included the culmination for the Olympic Games Beach Volleyball Qualification Chase in which Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) and Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.) prevailed in stunning fashion. After trailing compatriots Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Nick Lucena (Santa Barbara, Calif.) by nearly 400 Olympic qualification points earlier this year, Gibb and Rosenthal completed their huge comeback during the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour smart Grand Slam Rome, which was the last event for Olympic qualification points.

However, the final beach nomination position was marked with intrigue and suspense up until the second to last day of the qualification process as Gibb and Rosenthal entered with a 200-point lead. While Gibb and Rosenthal earned a pool-play victory over Fuerbringer and Lucena, both teams advanced out of the pool and into the knockout phase. Both pairs kept pace with each other in the first and second rounds, keeping the chase alive for the 2012 Olympic Games spot.

Jake Gibb (left) and Sean Rosenthal celebrate their first FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Grand Slam title a day after clinching a position into the 2012 Olympic Games

By the third round on Saturday afternoon, Gibb and Rosenthal needed a victory to clinch a nomination spot into the Olympic Games based on points accrued. They captured the first set 21-16 over Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilous and Ruslans Sorokins, but dropped the second set 21-18. In the tiebreaker, Gibb and Rosenthal won 16-14 setting off a celebration on the Rome sand that not only allowed them to reach the Grand Slam semifinal, but secured the Olympic Games position. (click here to view video on Gibb and Rosenthal celebrating their Olympic Games nomination spot).

Gibb and Rosenthal were not done in the tournament, though. They continued the beach party by capturing their semifinal match on Saturday night in three sets with a title showdown set on Sunday against top-seed and 2001 world champions Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego of Brazil. Gibb and Rosenthal kept their momentum going with a 21-13, 21-12 victory to capture their first Grand Slam title.

“I can’t believe it really,” Gibb said in an FIVB press release. “It was a big win for us here. They are the world champions and in my opinion the best in the world and we got lucky tonight. This is our first Grand Slam title and it is something I haven’t done in 12 years of my career, so it is a very special moment.”

Fuerbringer and Lucena won their third round match to also advance to the semifinal round, but ended the tournament in fourth place.

Meanwhile, Jen Kessy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) concluded the smart Grand Slam Rome with the bronze medal, their first podium finish of 2012.

Foluke Akinradewo attacks during the FIVB World Grand Prix Pool E weekend in which the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team defeated No. 2 Brazil, No. 4 Italy and No. 8 Germany to improve to 6-0.

On the indoor side, the top-ranked U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team won all three of its matches this past weekend in the FIVB World Grand Prix Pool E at Sao Bernardo, Brazil, capped by an impressive four-set win over No. 2 ranked Brazil on Sunday. Team USA has now defeated Brazil in the last two meetings, including a four-set victory at the 2011 FIVB World Cup. The Americans opened Pool E on June 15 with a three-set victory over No. 4 Italy, marking the fourth consecutive win over the Italians. Team USA also swept No. 8 Germany on June 16, the second time the Americans have defeated their European opponent in the 2012 FIVB World Grand Prix.

The U.S. and China are both 6-0 with 18 points through the first six World Grand Prix preliminary round matches, but the Americans hold a slim lead in point ratio (1.327 to 1.292) to take the top spot. Team USA concludes the World Grand Prix preliminary round next week with matches against Serbia (2-4, 8 points, 10th place) at 11:50 p.m. PT on June 21, Argentina (0-6, 0 points, 15th place) at 11:50 p.m. PT on June 22 and host Thailand (5-1, 14 points, 4th place) at 2:20 a.m. PT on June 24. The top five teams following the nine-match preliminary round, along with host China, advance to the six-team Final Round held June 27 to July 1 in Ningbo, China.

The U.S. Women are attempting to win their third consecutive FIVB World Grand Prix, the premier annual international women’s volleyball event. Team USA is attempting to become just the second country to win the FIVB World Grand Prix for three consecutive years. Aside from the U.S., only Brazil has successfully defended its title having won the tournament three consecutive years from 2004 to 2006 and back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009.

Matt Anderson puts up a block as the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team forged into the lead of Pool C in the FIVB World Grand Prix with wins over Italy, Korea and France

The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team also secured three victories over the weekend during FIVB World League Pool C competition at Lyon, France. Team USA topped previous pool leader Italy in three sets on June 15, followed by a four-set win over Korea on June 16. The Americans concluded the weekend round robin in France with a four-set victory over the host nation on Sunday.

With the three victories, the U.S. Men improved to 4-2 in the FIVB World League and forged into the top spot of the four-team pool with 11 points. France holds an identical 4-2 record with 11 points, but has a lower set ratio than the U.S. (1.300 to 1.273). Italy is currently third with a 3-3 record and nine points, while Korea is 1-5 with five points.

Pool C moves to Gwangju, Korea, this weekend as the U.S. Men begin with Italy on June 22, followed by France on June 23 and host Korea on June 24. All three matches are scheduled for 12:30 a.m. PT. The U.S. Men will host the final round of Pool C at Dallas June 29-July 1. To buy tickets to the FIVB World League matches in Dallas, click here.

The winner of the each of the four FIVB World League pools, plus the top second-place team and host-country Bulgaria will advance to the FIVB World League Final Round held July 4-8 in Sofia.