American Women off to Strong Start at Ostrava Four-Star
It’s a bittersweet sign, but a sweet sign nonetheless, that a high volume of the American women’s losses this FIVB season are to…other American teams. Of the five losses American women have suffered in the four-star in Ostrava this weekend, three have come to fellow Americans.
Betsi Flint and Emily Day and Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman were felled by Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat in the country quota, which preceded the qualifier.
Sweat and Walsh Jennings were consequently, after winning their first match in pool play, beat by April Ross and Alix Klineman in the second round of pool, 21-18, 16-21, 15-17. The last time Walsh Jennings and Sweat lost to a non-American team came two tournaments ago, in the quarterfinals of a four-star in Itapema, to Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan in three sets.
The last time Ross and Klineman lost to a team outside of the States also came two tournaments ago, in Xiamen, which preceded their victory in Itapema.
The result has been an Olympic ranking replete with stars and stripes. Four American teams – Ross-Klineman, Walsh-Sweat, Day-Flint, Summer Ross-Sara Hughes – are in the top 10 in the current Tokyo rankings, while five are in the top 25 for the overall FIVB rankings.
In an interview following the country quota and qualifier for Ostrava, Walsh Jennings wouldn’t say that this is the strongest she’s seen the U.S. women, but as for the world? As deep as she can recall. And in an era where the world is at its perceived peak, if it is, for the most part, taking Americans to knock out Americans, well it’s a sign that the U.S. is thriving.
All four American women’s teams in the main draw in Ostrava – Klineman-Ross, Walsh Jennings-Sweat, Hughes-Ross, Kelly Claes-Sarah Sponcil – have broken pool, with Klineman and Ross taking the top spot and earning a first-round bye in the elimination rounds.
The men’s side, meanwhile, hasn’t gotten off to the successful beginnings of the women. All three men’s teams – Tri Bourne-Trevor Crabb, Billy Allen-Stafford Slick, Theo Brunner-Reid Priddy – lost their first-round matches in pool play, making every match from here on out an elimination match.
Brunner and Priddy will play Austrians Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz-Telsnigg; Bourne and Crabb will see Germans Philipp Bergmann and Yannick Harms; Allen and Slick will play Swiss Mirco Gerson and Adrian Heidrich.
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