All Four American Women’s Teams Advance in Ostrava
Photo credit: FIVB
If nothing else can show the frustrating nature of a country quota cap in the Olympic Games, allow the four-star FIVB in Ostrava to do so. With two days remaining in the tournament, there are 16 teams left, a quarter of which hail from the United States, all of which have made a final in a four- or five-star event in the past year. And yet, those four teams are vying for just two spots in the Tokyo Games.
In winning their pool, Alix Klineman and April Ross were given a bye directly to the second round of elimination. The three remaining U.S. teams – Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, Sara Hughes and Summer Ross, Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil – were playing earlier in the morning in the first round.
Walsh Jennings and Sweat beat Latvians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka 21-10, 21-18, to advance to a rematch with Anouk Verge-Depre – Walsh Jennings’ partner in p1440 San Jose — and Joana Heidrich. Claes and Sponcil swept Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberlie, 21-19, 21-16, moving into the next round, where they’ll see Ross and Klineman.
At the bottom of the bracket, Hughes and Ross beat Brazilians Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima 21-18, 21-15. They’ll see another Brazilian team, and the current points leaders in the race to Tokyo, Rebecca Cavalcanti and Anna Patricia Silva.
Should one of those four make the semifinals, it will be the eighth consecutive FIVB – three stars or higher – in which an American has been vying for a medal, a streak that dates back to p1440 Las Vegas in October.
The success of the women is, in part, atoning for early exits for all of the men. The last two teams remaining – Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, Billy Allen and Stafford Slick – were both knocked out in the first round. Bourne and Crabb fell to Russians Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov while Allen and Slick were sent home by Latvians Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs.
If there is a positive to be gleaned from losing early, it is that they can get to New York City faster, for an AVP Gold Series event that will be the most fully-loaded on the domestic calendar, with every team present, both male and female.
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