FIVB World Championships: Billy Allen, Stafford Slick Land Timely Upset Over Russia
One of the biggest upsets – on paper, at least – of this week’s World Championships almost never happened, because, well, Billy Allen almost didn’t show up. In a 4 p.m. match against Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, Allen warmed up a bit too long at the practice court across the street.
He went to the bathroom. Grabbed some ice. Hot in Hamburg this time of year. And “by the time I got to the court, everyone was standing, waiting and looking then the ref blew the whistle to start,” Allen said, laughing. “So we didn’t get any warm up time on stadium court in the first set.”
The result of that first set showed as much, a 21-13 win in favor of the Russians. No matter, “just setting up the Russians,” John Mayer, the team’s coach, said. Evidently so, as Allen and Slick would recover to take the second, 27-25, and the third, 15-12, a huge win in their second game of pool play to put them in a good position to advance.
“Billy always downplays it,” Mayer said. “‘Oh, they made a bunch of errors. We didn’t play that well.’ They played great.”
The win was vital for Allen and Slick, who lost a tough opening match to Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho, 21-19, 15-21, 10-15. Now, with the upset over Russia, Allen and Slick can advance as the second ranked team in their pool with a win over Qatar and a Brazil victory over Russia, though they can also move on as the third team in pool, depending on results from other pools.
Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb, meanwhile, will need no such help. They’re 2-0 thus far, beating Uruguay, 21-17, 21-13, and Russia, 21-15, 21-14, setting up a match for the top spot in pool against Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak.
Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb have likewise put themselves in the driver’s seat of their pool, beating Iran and Rawanda with a highly-anticipated match against Germany’s top-ranked team of Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler left to go.
One of the more clustered pools is that of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, where all four teams – Dalhausser and Lucena, Canada, Argentina, Netherlands – are 1-1 with one match to go each. A win against Dutch Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen will assure, at the very least, the two spot, though they would get the top seed if Argentina upsets Canada’s Grant O’Gorman and Ben Saxton.
Several on the women’s side are finished with pool play entirely. April Ross and Alix Klineman will come out No. 2 in theirs, having lost their final match to Germany’s Karla Borger and Julia Sude, 15-21, 23-21, 10-15.
After a narrow, 19-21, 22-24 loss to Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat took third from their pool, which was won by Dutch Joy Stubbe and Marleen Van Iersel.
Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil have a match vs. Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes for the top spot in their pool, with both teams having gone 2-0 thus far.
Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman can go 2-1 with a win over Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado.
And, finally, Sara Hughes and Summer Ross have the opportunity to claim the top position in their pool with a win over Russia’s Svetlana Kholomina and Nadezda Makroguzova.
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