The USA’s Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat defeated Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia of China to win bronze 21-18, 21-13 in the $75,000 three-star event in FIVB Qinzhou, China this past Sunday.

Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy defeated Poland’s Kinga Kolosinska and Karazyna Kociolek 21-11, 21-12 in the gold-medal match.

In the men’s competition, Maxim Sivolap and Igor Velickho of Russia outlasted Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico in a three-set, 52-minute thriller 19-21, 21-19, 20-18.

Nivaldo Diaz and Sergio Gonzalez of Cuba won bronze over top-seeded Dries Koelkelkoren and Tom van Walle of Belgium 16-21, 21-16, 15-11.

The USA women’s contingent came in with high hopes, with second-seeded Ross and Sweat, No. 3 April Ross and Kelly Claes, No. 4 Nicole Branagh and Lauren Fendrick, and No. 7 Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar.

April Ross-FIVB Qinzhou-volleyball-beach volleyball-FIVB-Qinzhou
April Ross runs down a shot in China/FIVB photo

Kolosinska and her new partner Kociolek of Poland took out both Claes and Ross and Ross and Sweat. They ousted Claes and Ross in the first round 21-19, 21-15 to send them home with a disappointing 17th-place finish.

“I know Kinga and Katarzyna are very good,” Ross said in a FIVB interview, “and I knew that it was a really good team that we were up against. They were just much more ready than we were.”

The Poles went on to defeat Ross and Sweat in the semifinals, relegating them to the bronze-medal match 21-17, 21-18.

Branagh and Fendrick were unable to defeat eventual gold medalists Artacho and Clancy, dropping a 21-14, 21-19 match to finish fifth.

Day and Hochevar took ninth after a 21-14, 17-21, 15-12 loss to Germany’s Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger.

The USA men’s teams both finished 17th. Mark Burik and Bill Kolinske extended top seeds Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle of Belgium to an overtime set in a 32-30, 21-14 loss. Eric Zaun, playing in his first international event with Stafford Slick, were defeated 21-11, 21-14 by Quincy Aye and Youssef Krou of France.

USC product Sophie Bukovec, competing for Canada with Amanda Harnett, failed to qualify, losing 21-12, 21-11 to Azusa Futami and Akiko Hasegawa of Japan.

The remaining FIVB beach events on the 2018 calendar are a one-star in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, October 25-29, and a two-star in Sydney, Australia, November 23-26.

More new men’s teams for 2018:  In our VBM beach notes last week, we reported that John Hyden and Theo Brunner would unite for the 2018 season. The beach volleyball musical chairs game continues.

Casey Patterson will play with Stafford Slick in 2018. Patterson partnered with Theo Brunner in 2017, with season-best finishes of fourth in FIVB Rio de Janeiro and the Long Beach Continental Cup. And Billy Allen, who partnered Slick last year, will play with Ryan Doherty, whose partner was Hyden.

Casey Patterson-FIVB-Vienna-AVP-beach volleyball
Casey Patterson in World Championship Vienna action/Ed Chan,
Stafford Slick dives for a tape serve in AVP Seattle/Stephen Burns, Pacific Northwest photography

“Stafford is an extremely talented player,” Patterson said. “He has made his dream a reality of becoming a top AVP player with work ethic and being a student of the game.

“I had multiple phone calls and sit downs with him and with each one I was more impressed. He is very professional, hungry, and wants to reach more of his potential. I want to make another run at an Olympics and he is the guy. We feed well off each other’s energy and I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Slick partnered with Allen in 2017. On the world tour, the pair had three 17th place finishes. Domestically, they won in Seattle, Slick’s first win, Allen’s second.

Slick, awarded the Breakthrough Wild Card, is looking forward to 2018.

“I’m really excited to partner with Patterson,” Slick said. “It wasn’t a decision that was easily arrived at, it was pretty tough to look at my best season to date, and make a partner switch.

“Casey and I, I think our goals internationally align, and that’s part of my process, having success on the domestic AVP tour, and taking that to the international tour. I want to test my game against the best in the world,  and after conversations with defenders, Casey was the outright choice. He has the experience, the passion and drive to make a run at Tokyo.

“We’re going to take 2018, and put everything we have into it, and see how we go from there.

“I’m looking forward to the passion, the energy, and the fire he has for the game, and the positive energy on the court. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Slick and Patterson partnered together for a USA volleyball NORCECA playoff in Manhattan Beach in September for an Ochos Rios event that was subsequently cancelled.

“We were able to practice together a handful of times before the NORCECA playoff, Theo had hurt his ankle at that time, so I reached out to Casey.”

For Slick, that experience validated their future partnership.

“Day one we were feeling things out, and day two I felt like we made some good progress up the learning curve.”

Fueled by 2017 success, Slick is looking forward to what’s ahead.

“It’s exciting, for sure. I think it will be the next natural progression after coming off a successful domestic season.”

Allen will join forces with Ryan Doherty. Doherty, partnered with Hyden in 2017, had his best year internationally, garnering silver in Olsztyn and a fourth in Fort Lauderdale.

“I’m excited to play with him” Allen said. “He’s a guy that I’ve played against a lot, and I’ve struggled to hit against him, so it’s good to have him on the same side of the net. He’s one of the top blockers in the country, and I’m looking forward to playing defense behind his block.

“We haven’t met yet, we haven’t had a chance to practice or play together. It’s October, it’s pretty early, I think we’ll be good. We both plan on playing AVP’s as much as possible, and depending on where we are and how we’re doing, FIVB events that make sense for us. If we’re doing well, we’ll play more.

On the beach: Reid Priddy released “Field Notes Volume 1,” a backstage pass to beach volleyball. It includes insights, drills, journal notes, statistics, and images. For a free sample, visit the Max Potential site.  The full ebook can be downloaded for $29 …

Volleyball Vacations-Turks and Caicos-NVL-National Volleyball League-Cancun

Due to damage from Hurricane Maria, the NVL Volleyball Vacations event has been moved from Turks and Caicos to the Club Med in Cancun, Mexico, December 3-10.

Club Med Turks and Caicos will not reopen until January 31, 2018. Next year’s VBV is scheduled for December 1-8, 2018.

NVL pros Skyler McCoy, Jennifer Snyder, Tarin LoCascio, and NVL CEO Al Hannemann will host the event with other pro players…


AVP power couple Jennifer Fopma and Jeff Conover announced on Instagram Sunday that they are expecting a new arrival …

Looking for some tunes to scare trick-or-treaters? AVP DJ Jeremy Roueche released an updated Halloween mix Monday…

Canadian pro beach star Sarah Pavan is playing indoors professionally for Casalmaggiore in Italy…

Tri Bourne, who tied the knot October 9, is off in Bali on his honeymoon with his new bride, the former Gabby Walsh. When he gets back, look for his new beach-volleyball podcast, “Sandcast: Beach volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter,” that can heard exclusively starting November 1 here at …

Billy and Janelle Allen at Moonlight Beach with son Ketch/Courtesy Billy Allen

And Billy Allen and Janelle Allen won the big-court Moonlight Mixed tournament Saturday at Moonlight beach in Encinitas, defeating Michael Brunsting and Nicole Bateham in the finals.

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