Only two American teams remain entering Friday’s FIVB Gstaad as Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil — who finally lost after winning their previous 13 FIVB matches — and Kelley Kolinske and Emily Stockman await their first-round elimination matches in the four-star pro beach volleyball tournament in Switzerland.
Both teams play at 5 a.m. Eastern. Sponcil and Claes play Finland’s Riikka Lehtonen and Niina Ahtianen, while Stockman and Kolinske face Brazil’s Ana Patricia Silva and Rebecca Cavalcanti.
Claes and Sponcil, who won the previous two FIVB events as they qualified for the Olympics, lost a tight three-set match to Brazil’s Carolina Salgado and Barbara Seixas (21-18, 28-30, 16-14) that gave the Brazilians the pool-play bye.
Kolinske and Stockman eliminated fellow Americans Corinne Quiggle and Allie Wheeler (21-18, 16-21, 15-9) to earn their playoff berth. Sara Hughes and Emily Day were knocked out by Spain’s Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez (21-17, 14-21, 18-16).
Both USA men’s teams fell in the first round of playoffs. Chaim Schalk and Theo Brunner won their final pool over Estonia’s Kusti Nolvak and Mart Tiisaar (21-14, 21-16), but were then eliminated by Switzerland’s Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson (21-12, 21-14).
Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb lost to Germany’s Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler (21-19, 25-23).
USC beach product Tina Graudina, playing with fellow Latvian Anastasija Kravcenoka, earned a bye after defeating Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy (21-17, 17-21, 15-12). Their second-round opponents will be the winners of Sponcil and Claes versus Lehtonen and Ahtianen.
Three other teams with NCAA roots made the first round of playoffs. UCLA alumni Megan and Nicole McNamara (Canada) advanced after defeating Greece’s Vasiliki Arvaniti and Penny Karagkouni (19-21, 21-17, 15-12). Former Nebraska indoor All-American Sarah Pavan and partner Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada defeated the Netherlands’ Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam (13-21, 21-18, 15-11) to earn their playoff berth against Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Cinja Tillmann. And TCU’s Daniela Alvarez and Angela Lobato of Spain play Poland’s Kinga Kojtasik and Katarzyna Kociolek after a loss to the Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink (21-19, 21-19).
While Claes and Sponcil played in the tournament, fellow USA Olympians Aprll Ross and Alix Klineman, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, and Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb stayed home to train for the Tokyo Olympics that start in less than two weeks.