United States Leaves No Doubt On Day One of NORCECA Continental Championships
There were no question marks, no red flags, no what-ifs — nothing but total, absolute, unequivocal certainty for the four American teams in Boca Chica this weekend for the NORCECA Continental Championships.
Not a single set was dropped between Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen, Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb, and Miles Evans and Ryan Doherty. The Americans went 7-0 in their matches on the opening day, which isn’t much of a surprise.
This is generally how NORCECAs go, with most of the top teams — United States, Mexico, Canada, Nicaragua — being separated in different pools. Mexico’s Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen, for example, lead one pool, Evans and Doherty another, Gibb and Crabb another, and Canadians Sam Schachter and Sam Pedlow heading the final pool. There should be, however, an enticing match upcoming between Doherty and Evans and Canadians Grant O’Gorman and Simon Fecteau-Botin. O’Gorman, Canada’s No. 2 defender, typically plays with Ben Saxton, though Saxton is out nursing an injury, giving Fecteau-Botin, a fourth-place finisher in Bonaire, the call-up.
Pedlow and Schachter, the top Canadian team in the Olympic race, should also have a competitive match with Mexico’s Jose Rubio, a finalist with Ontiveros in p1440 Huntington Beach, and Josue Gaxiola, who won gold last weekend in Bonaire.
On the women’s end, Walsh Jennings and Sweat went 2-0, with their closest set being 21-11. Larsen and Stockman also finished 2-0, limiting their opponents to less than double-digits in all four sets.
Friday should mark the end of such matches, however. Pool play and the first round of elimination will conclude on Saturday, and then the top teams from each will begin to play one another, making for the world tour competition they’re accustomed to.
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