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Tough day in Gstaad for USA as Claes-Sponcil, Bourne-Crabb only American winners

It was a rough day for Americans at Wednesday’s first round of pool play in the four-star FIVB  Gstaad pro beach volleyball tournament, the last competition before the Tokyo Olympics.

Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil and Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb were the only USA pairs to win their first-round pool matches in the tournament in Switzerland. Claes and Sponcil will play for the bye Thursday, while Bourne and Trevor Crabb lost their second match and will begin in the first round of playoffs.

Americans Allie Wheeler and Corinne Quiggle, Emily Stockman and Kelley Kolinske, Emily Day and Sara Hughes, and Chaim Schalk and Theo Brunner all lost their pool-play matches, so they all must win Thursday to advance to elimination playoffs.

Friday’s USA schedule (all times Eastern):

3 a.m. — Chaim Schalk and Theo Brunner vs. Kusti Nolvak and Mart Tiisaar (Estonia)
5 a.m. — Sponcil and Claes vs. Barbara Seixas and Carolina Salgado (Brazil)
6 a.m. — Allie Wheeler and Corinne Quiggle (USA) vs. Emily Stockman and Kelley Kolinske (USA)
7 a.m. —  Emily Day and Sara Hughes vs. Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Barquerizo (Spain)

Bourne and Crabb began with a defeat of Chile’s Esteban and Marco Grimalt (21-16, 18-21, 15-9). They were unable to follow through, losing out on the playoffs bye to Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Schmidt (21-14, 19-21, 15-12).

Claes and Sponcil are assured a playoff berth after defeating Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre (21-13, 21-8). The Americans will face Seixas and Salgado for a bye.

It was a challenging day for Americans in Pool A. Quiggle and Wheeler fell to Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre (21-16, 21-11). Germany’s Chantal Laboreur and Cinja Tillmann defeated Kolinske and Stockman (18-21, 21-17, 15-10).

The losses leave Quiggle and Wheeler facing off against Kolinske and Stockman, with only the winner advancing.

Schalk and Brunner lost to the Netherlands’ Steven van de Velde and Christiaan Varenhorst (21-16, 21-13), putting them in a must-win situation Thursday against Estonians Nolvan and Tiisaar.

The Gstaad women’s field is a testament to NCAA beach volleyball. There are 13 of the 64 women in the field with roots in NCAA volleyball programs (thanks to USC’s Jeremy Wu for the update):

USC has four players in the tournament in Tina Graudina, Claes, Hughes, and Wheeler. UCLA has twins Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara, and Sponcil. Loyola Marymount has Day and can count Sponcil, who started at LMU. Pepperdine has Kolinske and Quiggle, TCU has Daniela Alvarez, Wichita State has Stockman, and Nebraska has Sarah Pavan, who was an indoors star for the Huskers.

Together the 13 players represent four countries: USA (Claes, Hughes, Kolinske, Quiggle, Sponcil, Stockman, Wheeler), Canada (Pavan, McNamara twins), Latvia (Graudina) and Spain (Alvarez).