World Championships Day Two

U.S.A. Goes Undefeated in Day Two of World Championships

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One of the most unique elements of World Championships — and there are many to choose from — is perhaps the most frightening: The unknown. Forty-eight teams per gender are competing in the massive, nearly two-week long event, which lives up to its name: It’s a true World Championship.

Unlike the first World Championships of Beach Volleyball, put on by Event Concepts in the late 1970s that only included teams from Southern California, there are teams from Hermosa Beach to Egypt, China to Nicaragua, Germany to Rawanda.

Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb had never played Iran before. Never had seen Patrick Kavalo and Olivier Ntagengwa. No known tendencies. Not much of an idea in terms of strategy.

“It is weird playing guys you’ve never seen before,” Bourne said on Saturday morning. So the score of the first set, a 21-13 win for Iran, may look weird indeed. Though, really, it’s not all that crazy. Not all that different from Gabe Ospina and Paul Lotman snagging a match off Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb in the first round of Austin.

You just don’t know.

And then you adjust, as Bourne and Crabb did, winning the second two sets 21-16, 15-9, beginning an undefeated day for the Americans after a slow start on Friday.

Gibb and Taylor Crabb also felled a relative unknown in Uruguay, winning 21-17, 21-13 in just 29 minutes, though the record for quickest match on the day goes to Alix Klineman and April Ross, who beat Nicaragua 21-8, 21-7 in 25 minutes. Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil added to the American dominance, pounding Russia’s Ekaterina Birlova and Evgeniya Ukolova 21-8, 21-16.

So, yes, sometimes the unknown can be beneficial, too. It goes both ways.

Similar to Bourne and Crabb, Sara Hughes and Summer Ross ran into an unexpectedly difficult first round matchup, against Argentina’s Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra, winning 21-18, 15-21, 16-14. Close, yes, but a win is all that matters in Hamburg.

The U.S. is now 6-3 total for World Champs, with another two matches remaining in pool play. Competing Sunday will be Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat vs. Mauritius, a pinprick of an island just east of Madagascar. Sponcil and Claes play Colombia, Klineman and Ross vs. China, Billy Allen and Stafford Slick vs. Russia, Gibb and Crabb vs. Russia, Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman vs. Nigeria, and, topping it off, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena vs. Canada.

Some of those teams, as it goes in World Champs, remain unknown. Bourne and Crabb, however, have a few days until they get the match they’ve been looking forward to since the pools were released: stadium court vs. Germany’s Clemens Wickler and Julius Thole.

“We want,” Bourne said, “Germany.”

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