Beach Bytes: McKibbins, Field win in the snow, Dykstra-House win FIVB gold

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Troy Field, Riley McKibbin, and Maddison McKibbin celebrate their first FIVB snow volleyball gold medal/FIVB photo

FIVB snow Kronplatz, Italy: Maddison McKibbin, Riley McKibbin and Troy Field won the USA’s first FIVB snow volleyball world tour medals in Plan de Corones, the second snow volleyball stop of the year.

Karissa Cook, Emily Hartong, Katie Spieler and Allie Wheeler won their second silvers in the women’s competition.

“From a volleyball standpoint, it’s right in the middle between indoor and beach. It has the fast paced style of indoor, but the element challenges of beach, sun, wind, footing and the play style,” Field told us after returning home.

“From the surface standpoint, you are playing in slush, or hard-packed ice depending on the conditions of that day. From what I could tell, everybody is having a blast playing and watching in the snow. It’s honestly so fun, and has longer rallies, because the block doesn’t count as a touch.”

The men’s trio defeated Russia’s Pavel Rakusov, Yury Bogator, Nikita Kusmin and Petr Bakhaar in a dramatic 9-15, 15-13, 22-20 win. The silver is the Russian’s second medal, following Bronze in Wagrain-Kleinarl.

The Americans had a tough road to the final, advancing from qualification to the gold medal match.

“It’s pretty surreal, for sure,” Field said. “I didn’t think anything  would come of this, I didn’t think that I would win gold, it’s almost a whole new sport. You don’t really know what can happen and and we had to qualify in a blizzard with 40 kilometer winds. and then had to play the team that won the previous tournament in the first round.

“It was fair to say that the odds were stacked against us.

“In the finals, the Russians had a pretty phenomenal beach player that played lights outs against us. We were pretty much down the whole second set, we switched down 9-6, but got a run of two blocks and an ace serve, so we took the lead on the next switch 11-9, and held on for the second set win.”

The Americans were down most of the second and third set, including a 3-0 deficit to start the third set.

“The finish of the third set was tight, I think each team served five match points for each team, with a lot of clean sideouts. We switched at 20-20, and I blocked a ball to go ahead 21-20. Riley then served a tough ball that got the Russians out of system, Madison dug them, and then hits for the win off a Russian’s head for the win.

Poland’s Piotr Groszek, Karol Szczepanik, Kamil Warzocha, and Michal Matyja defeated Austria’s Alexander Huber, Christoph Dressler, Felix Friedl, and Maximilian Trummer 15-8, 6-15, 15-13 for bronze.

Americans Travis Mewhirter, Eric Zaun, Chris Vaughan and Chase Frishman lost both pool play matches to Russia 2 and Slovenia and did not advance to the quarterfinals.

On the women’s side, the USA’s Cook, Hartong, Spieler and Wheeler took their second consecutive silver medal to Russia’s Olga Motrich, Anna Romashova, Olga Filina and Olga Kozhadey,  a rematch of the previous week’s Austrian final. Russia defeated the USA 15-13, 15-11 for gold.

Argentina, who has never won any medals in the Winter Olympic games, won bronze as Julieta Puntin, Cecilia Peralta, Maria Eugenia Tuliz and Maria Virginia Zonta defeated Japan’s Shion Tsubouchi, Haruka Arai and Shinako Tanaka 15-12, 10-15, 15-13.

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Cassie House and Lara Dykstra celebrate FIVB gold in Battambang, Cambodia/FIVB photo

FIVB Battambang: The USA’s Lara Dykstra and Cassie House won gold at the FIVB one-star event in Battambang, Cambodia. The Americans defeated Dimitra Manavi and Konstantina Tsopoulou of Greece 21-19, 21-14 to win gold and the $1,000 top prize.

Satono Ishitsubo and Asami Shiba of Japan defeated compatriots Sakurako Fujii and Minori Kumada 22-20, 21-13 to win bronze.

The 17-year-old USA twins, Audrey and Nicole Nourse, finished 13th. The Nourses defeated Noy Chorin and Noga Maor of Israel 21-16, 21-16 to qualify for their second FIVB event, but lost both of their pool-play matches.

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Sean Rosenthal and Ricardo Santos will compete together in domestic competition for 2019/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Rosenthal to play with Santos: Sean Rosenthal announced on social media Saturday that he will play this season with three-time Olympic medalist Ricardo Santos of Brazil, who lives in Orlando, Fla.

The 6-foot-4 Rosenthal has 13 domestic and 10 international wins, totaling $1,384,390 in prize money according to BVBinfo.com. The 38-year-old played with Chase Budinger last year, finishing second in San Francisco. Their best international finish was a ninth place in the FIVB three-star in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Santos, a 6-7 blocker, owns all three colors of Olympic beach volleyball medals, silver in 2000 with Ze Marco de Melo, gold in 2004 and bronze in 2008, both with Emmanuel Rego.

Santos had briefly retired from international competition, playing only one event in 2017, while competing on the AVP tour and garnering a trio of thirds in New York, San Francisco, and Manhattan Beach.

Last year the 44-year-old Santos competed in five FIVB events with Gustavo “Guto” Carvalhaes, their best finish a silver medal in Espinho, Portugal.

Santos’ career includes 55 FIVB wins, amassing $1,950,220 in career winnings.

“We’ve had some great matches against each other over the years,” Rosenthal said.” I won my first FIVB tour event against him (2006 Acapulco, Mexico, with Jake Gibb), and he knocked me out of the Olympics (Beijing 2008, with Gibb), so I’m looking forward to playing with him.

“He has tremendous experience, bringing three Olympic medals to our team.”

Although the team possesses a wealth of experience, they have both language and geographical challenges.

“He lives in Florida, and he doesn’t come with a lot of English, so we’ll have to work that out. I think the plan is for him to come into Huntington four days early so we can get some practice in.”

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UCLA’s McNamara twins, Nicole and Megan, earned berths in the 2019 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany June 28-July 7/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

UCLA’s McNamara twins qualify for World Championships: The UCLA No. 1 pairing of Megan and Nicole McNamara will compete for Canada in the World Championships in Hamburg, Germany June 28-July 7 following Canadian NORCECA trials at the National Beach Volleyball Centre in Toronto, Canada.

The McNamaras defeated Taylor Pischke and USC alum Sophie Bukovec in NORCECA trials 21-17, 21-19 to clinch the berth.

“It was a very quick trip,” Nicole said. “We were there for less than 48 hours, so we were pretty exhausted the whole time, it was intense, it was a business trip. We have a lot of friends in Volleyball Canada, everyone was there wanting to qualify, realizing how big of an opportunity it was.

“People that we usually hang out and chat with, we were friendly, but we kind of kept to ourselves, because we went there with one goal, to qualify.”

“It’s kind of surreal, to be honest,” Megan said. “We’re really still in our first full year on tour, getting those experiences last year. We really didn’t predict that playing in the World championships in Hamburg would be in the cards for us this summer, so to have that opportunity, and see where we’re at versus all of the best teams in the world will be a pretty cool experience.”

The McNamaras will join fellow Canadians Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley, Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, who have qualified by virtue of top-23 FIVB world rankings.

On the men’s side, Ben Saxton and Grant O’Gorman earned the NORCECA trials bid, with Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter hoping to qualify through their FIVB rankings.

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Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings earned a spot in the FIVB Xiamen qualifier Tuesday in Manhattan Beach/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Walsh Jennings-Sweat, Hyden-Doherty win Xiamen qualifier berth: Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, John Hyden and Ryan Doherty earned the right to compete in the FIVB four-star qualifier in Xiamen, China April 24-28 at country quota matches in Manhattan Beach Tuesday.

Walsh Jennings defeated Kelly Reeves and Brittany Howard 21-18, 21-19, followed by a win over Betsi Flint and Emily Day 16-21, 21-16, 15-12.

John Hyden and Ryan Doherty defeated Casey Patterson and Chase Budinger in a trio of deuce sets 22-20, 26-28, 15-13.

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