Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena won their pool and the bye that goes with it Friday in the 4-star FIVB Cancun Hub, while Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb will compete in the first round of playoffs. Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb lost both their matches and were eliminated.
April Ross and Alix Klineman and Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes won their first matches and will play for a bye Saturday morning. Emily Stockman and Kelley Kolinske and Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat lost their opening matches and must win Saturday morning to advance.
Saturday’s USA schedule (local time, same as U.S. Central)
9 a.m. — Ross and Klineman vs. Germany’s Chantel Laboreur and Cinja Tillmann, Claes and Sponcil vs. the Netherlands’ Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam.
11 a.m. — Sweat and Walsh Jennings vs. the Netherlands’ Maxime van Driel and Emi van Driel of the Netherlands, Stockman and Kolinske vs. Australia’s Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho.
2 p.m. — Bourne and Trevor Crabb vs. Russia’s Viacheslav Krasnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy.
6 p.m. — Dalhausser and Lucena vs. the winner of the match between Steven van de Velde and Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands vs. Switzerland’s Florian Breer and Marco Krattiger.
Dalhausser and Lucena won their first match easily against Germany’s Julius Thole and Yannick Harms (21-16, 21-13). Thole’s normal partner, Clemens Wickler, was out due to injury.
Next up for the Americans were the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner. The Czechs are one of the hottest teams of 2021, with gold in Doha and bronze in Cancun days ago.
Dalhausser and Lucena prevailed 21-14, 24-26, 15-11. They lost after leading 20-17 in the second set, but Dalhausser spiked a ball that struck Perusic in the shoulder and rebounded into the net. Schweiner saved it and the Czechs won the improbable point.
Lucena believed that the play should have been called, expressed his disagreement, and was awarded a red card and loss of point. Lucena went on to commit two hitting errors, with one spike long and one in the net. The Czechs went on to win the set, forcing a third set.
The Americans would go on to win the third set on a straight down stuff block by Dalhausser to earn their playoff bye.
Bourne and Trevor Crabb split their pool matches, beating Italy’s 2012 silver medalists Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo (15-21, 21-19, 15-12) but then losing to Poland’s qualifiers Maciej Rudol and Jakub Szalankiewicz (21-15, 16-21, 15-10).
Rudol and Szalankiewicz are a two-man American wrecking crew, defeating Miles Evans and Bill Kolinske in the qualifier, and Bourne and Trevor Crabb and Gibb and Taylor Crabb in the span of two days.
Against the Italians, Bourne and Tr. Crabb were ahead nearly all of the third set with the Italians nearby at 14-11. The Americans were able to close on their first attempt, with Bourne covering a Nicolai block and then firing a spike down the line that Lupo couldn’t handle.
In set three against the Poles, nearly everything went wrong for Bourne and Tr. Crabb. Disputed line calls, hitting errors, and Poland’s soft blocks and service aces relegated the Americans to the first round of playoffs.
Surprisingly, America’s top Olympic squad, Gibb and Taylor Crabb, were eliminated with losses to both Poland’s Rudol and Szalankiewicz (21-14, 21-19) and Italy’s Lupo and Nicolai (21-17, 20-22, 15-13).
The Poles led wire-to-wire in set one, winning 21-17. In set two, Poland gained the critical advantage when it blocked Gibb to go to 19-17. Moments later, Gibb served Szalankiewicz, who passed the ball up to the net for Rudol, who finished the match by spiking the ball in front of Ta. Crabb to win the second set and match 21-19.
In the women’s draw, Ross and Klineman defeated Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre 21-14, 21-17.
The Americans cruised through the match easily, with Klineman closing the match with a powerful spike at Bobner’s feet to complete the 21-14, 21-17 39-minute match.
Next for Ross and Klineman: Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Cinja Tillman, last week’s fourth-place finishers.
Sponcil and Claes made the most of their Friday after missing the previous Hub’s main draw. They defeated fellow Americans Stockman and Kolinske, preventing them from gaining an elimination bye.
The first set could have gone either way, with Sponcil and Claes coming out on top 21-19. In the second set, Sponcil went on a serving tear, running the score up to 6-0 before missing her seventh serve. Stockman and Kolinske were unable to make any subsequent dent in their opponents defenses, ending 21-10 on a Claes spike on two into the deep corner.
Claes and Sponcil will play the Netherlands’ Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam for the bye, while Kolinske and Stockman play the third seed, Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy, to stay in the tournament. Of note, the Australians eliminated Ross and Klineman in last week’s event.
Walsh Jennings and Sweat couldn’t find the solutions Friday against Canada’s Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley (23-21, 21-14).
The first set could have gone either way, with both Walsh Jennings and Sweat having a number of tough chances to win the set. In the second, Canada’s defense created an early 8-2 lead. The USA fought back, but Walsh Jennings missed a high line shot that would have narrowed the deficit to 15-14. Canada then found another gear, with Wilkerson earning a point on a net tape ace, Bansley digging and transitioning to complete the win.
Walsh Jennings and Sweat face the Netherlands’ Emi and Maxime van Driel to get into the elimination rounds.
One more note: USC’s Tina Graudina, playing hooky from school to compete with Latvian Olympic partner Anastasia Kravcenoka, opened play with a 27-25, 21-18 loss to Germany’s Laboreur and Tillmann. Saturday they play Bobner and Verge-Depre to break pool.
Following Friday’s pool play, Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum, Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho, Poland’s Rudol and Szalankiewicz, Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak, Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins, Italy’s Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi, Switzerland’s Mirco Gerson and Adrian Heidrich receive byes into Saturday’s playoffs.