The USA beach volleyball teams of Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross and Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson cruised through their first-round matches on Saturday, but will face stiffer competition Monday.
The other two American teams had mixed results Sunday, as Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena won easily, but Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat lost in three.
No. 6 Gibb/Patterson will meet up against No. 18 Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl (Austria).
The Austrians are a good but undersized team. Huber is 5-foot-11 and Seidl 6-3. Seidl is a crafty defender who moves the ball around well and is a much more effective blocker than his 6-3 frame would indicate, has good springs, and likes to make big moves at the net.
Third-ranked Walsh Jennings/Ross are in the late slot again when they play No. 15 Fan Wang/Yuan Yue (China)
Wang/Yue are under-seeded, and will be a good test for Walsh/Ross. Wang is a 6-2 blocker who hits an unconventional jump float serve off a slide approach. It is difficult to read and arrives quickly. Yue has a tough top-spin jump serve, moves the ball around well on offense, and is an excellent defender.
Sunday’s Women’s Matches
No. 12 Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska (Poland) defeated No. 13 Fendrick/Sweat 14-21, 21-13, 15-7.
“I think Poland played better in the last two sets,” Sweat said. “We just fell apart on our side. We held it together in the first, but our pass-set fell apart and it’s hard to win when you aren’t passing and setting.”
Fendrick/Sweat had a difficult time in the 21-mph wind, leading to passing, setting and hitting errors. Serving errors on the good side compounded the issue, so the Americans had difficulty getting into rhythm.
“Coming out we played really good to start, that’s positive for us,” Sweat said. “Our side just fell apart. It was definitely really windy and swirly, but that’s not excuse for our pass and set game. We just have to get it together.”
The good news for them was that Fendrick/Sweat’s blocking and defense were solid, with five blocks and 18 digs. Next up are the No. 1 Brazilians Larissa/Talita, Fendrick/Sweat will need to right the ship and take care of the ball to have a chance in that one on Tuesday.
“They’re the hometown favorites,” Fendrick said. “They’re a great team and we’re going to have to bring our best and that’s what we plan to do.”
No. 1 Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes (Brazil) defeated No. 24 Evgeniya Ukolova/Ekaterina Birlova (Russia) 21-14, 21-16 in just 34 minutes.
The Olympic field should take notice, Larissa/Talita took down a powerful Russian team with ease. The Brazilians are playing with confidence.
No. 5 Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley (Canada) defeated No. 20 Jantine van Gestel/Sophie van der Vlist (Netherlands) 21-15, 21-17. Bansley scooped up 17 digs and Pavan contributed four blocks for Canada in a solid win.
No. 4 Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst (Germany) defeated No. 21 Doaa Elghobashy/Nada Meawad (Egypt) 21-12, 21-15 in a lopsided match.
No. 17 Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr (Switzerland) defeated No. 8 Karla Borger/Britta Buthe (Germany) 21-12, 21-16 in an upset as the 6-3 Heidrick dominated the net.
No. 6 Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas (Canada) defeated No. 9 Marta Menegatti/Laura Giombini (Italy) 15-21, 21-18, 15-9. Laura Giombini, an alternate, found herself in the thick of things after Viktoria Orsi Toth was disqualified for substance abuse. After three practices, Menegatti/Giombini were set to compete.
“We have had to work out how to play together very quickly and how we can help each other and make sure we are as aggressive as possible on each ball,”Menegatti said. “We’ve had three training sessions together, which isn’t a lot.”
Sunday’s Men’s Matches
No. 3 Dalhausser/Lucena crushed No. 22 Mohamed Naceur/Choaib Belhaj (Tunisia) 21-7, 21-13 in a half hour.
“We’re just one point at a time. Not getting too crazy, excited about anything. He may sometimes,” Dalhausser said, pointing to Lucena, “but me I’m staying the course, horse blinders and at the end there is the gold medal. That’s the plan and we’ll see what happens.”
The plan worked as Tunisia made a go of it in the second set, keeping the score relatively close at 10-6.
“They just got in a rhythm, maybe a little bit of nerves,” Lucena said. “We missed a couple of serves in the second set, so we let them off the hook a little bit and they made some good side out plays. I knew eventually they would get into a rhythm; I think they’ll play better as the tournament goes along.”
Next up for the USA is Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico, who upset Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo of Italy in three sets today.
“We play Mexico, a very good team,” Lucena said. “They just beat Nicolai and Lupo from Italy, another tough team. There’s no easy games.”
No. 15 Virgen/Ontiveros (Mexico) defeated No. 10 Nicolai/Lupo (Italy) 14-21, 21-14, 15-11.
This Mexican team brings fire and intensity to every match and is a constant threat. In the third game, a Lupo hitting error and two consecutive back line services aces by Virgen gave the Mexicans their four-point advantage and they held on for the upset.
No. 5 Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst (Netherlands) defeated No. 20 Marco/Esteban Grimalt (Chile) 21-16, 21-13. The Grimalt brothers played well, but ultimately had difficulty contending with the Varenhorst block.
No. 21 Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez (Cuba) defeated No. 4 Pedro Solberg/Evandro Goncalves (Brazil) 24-22, 21-23,15-13. Yes, you read that right. The No. 21 seeded Cubans knocked off the No. 4 Brazilians at home. The Cubans are a bit of an unknown, as they only played one world tour event in the last two years, finishing ninth at the world championships.
The Brazilians wilted under the Cuban pressure at the end of set three. From 12-12, Evandro netted while hitting, a Solberg pokey fell into the net, and a Evandro serving error gave the Cubans a 15-13 third set win.
The Cubans, obviously, are capable of matching up with any team in the world
No. 8 Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Konstantin Semenov (Russia) defeated No. 17 Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (Poland) 21-14, 21-13.
No. 9 Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins (Latvia) defeated No. 16 Chaim Schalk/Ben Saxton (Canada) 21-17, 18-21, 15-13.
Samoilovs/Smedins and Schalk/Saxton are two of the hotter teams on the world tour. On this occasion, Canada gave it away. Schalk/Saxton were up 13-11 in the third set. Samoilovs sided out for 13-12, a Smedins dig and Samoilovs conversion tied it at 13-13, and a pair of hitting Schalk hitting errors gave the match to the Latvians.