Bourne, Crabb and Day, Flint Win NORCECA Qualifier
The comments from the casual bystander at the Manhattan Beach Pier on Wednesday were all virtually the same: This, for an otherwise innocuous weekday afternoon, was really, really good volleyball. The best in the country, actually.
The explanation for why some of the top talent from the United States would be competing to play in a series of NORCECAs during an Olympic qualification year is both complicated and simple. While most invariably lose money playing NORCECAs, and aren’t all that allured by the prospect of additional international travel on top of the Olympic globe-trotting they’re already doing, on the line was a continental bid for the Beach Volleyball World Championships.
While the top two teams from each country ranked in the FIVB’s top 24 will earn automatic bids to World Championships, held in Germany from June 28-July 7, an additional spot can be earned through competing in NORCECAs and accruing continental points.
Which meant that most every team currently outside of the top 24 in the world rankings or outside the top two spots in the U.S. descended upon Manhattan Beach on Wednesday for a single-elimination qualifier.
“As of right now, we’re in,” Tri Bourne said of the World Championships. “But if we were to fall out of it within the next month or two, then if we didn’t play in a NORCECA, we wouldn’t be able to get that spot. So it was ‘I guess we’ll sign up for that NORCECA qualifier.’”
Good thing, too. Bourne and Trevor Crabb won all three of their matches on Wednesday, beating Ian Satterfield and Mark Burik (21-14, 21-18), Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger (21-15, 21-15), and Billy Allen and Stafford Slick (21-18, 21-16) to earn their spot.
“It’s great volleyball,” Bourne said.
Indeed, that was the theme throughout the day. On the women’s side, Betsi Flint and Emily Day won, beating Nicolette Martin and Falyn Fonoimoana, 21-12, 22-20.
Flint and Day have been one of the hottest teams in the country of late, jumping up to second in the 2019 world rankings with five international events to their names already. Those five events include five top-10 finishes and, most recently, a silver medal at a three-star in Sydney, where they won every match save for the finals, a three-set grinder against hosts Becchara Palmer and Nicole Laird. Coming in third for the women are Cambodia silver medalists Corinne Quiggle and Amanda Dowdy, who beat Carly Wopat and Brittany Hochevar, 21-12, 21-16. “It’s crazy,” Quiggle said of the talent level two days prior to the qualifier, echoing the sentiment of virtually everybody else at the Pier on Wednesday.
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