Gstaad, Switzerland, is perhaps the most picturesque site of all FIVB tournaments, a major ski resort and popular destination. It is also the destination for one of only three five-star FIVB events this year and the first since Fort Lauderdale in February.
The FIVB tour returned to Gstaad for its 19th consecutive year this week. Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena are the defending Gstaad champions and will again seek the $40,000 first-place prize.
Gstaad qualification was completed Tuesday and the USA’s Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman made the main draw, while Miles Evans and Bill Kolinske lost their first-round match.
Larsen and Stockman defeated Gaia Traballi and Agata Zuccarelli of Italy 21-17, 21-13 to earn their spot in the main draw. Larsen and Stockman earlier defeated Amanda Dowdy and Irene Pollock (19-21, 21-17, 15-10) and Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar (21-13, 24-22) Monday in the USA country-quota matches.
Evans and Kolinske were defeated by Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz-Telsnigg of Austria 21-16, 21-19.
Germany’s Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger, Slovakia’s Natalia Dubovcova and Andrea Strbova, Japan’s Miki Ishii and Megumi Murakami, Spain’s Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez, Norway’s Emilie Olimstad and Oda Ulveseth, Japan’s Azusa Futami and Akiko Hasegawa, and Poland’s Katarzyna Kociolek and Kinga Kolosinska were the other qualifiers.
On the men’s side, Germany’s Philipp Bergmann and Yannick Harms, Brazil’s Thiago Santos Barbosa and George Wanderley, Qatar’s Ahmed Tijan and Cherif Younousse, Italy’s Marco Caminati and Enrico Rossi, Belgium’s Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle, Italy’s Andrea Abbiati and Tiziano Andreatta, Venezuela’s Tigrito Gomez and Carlos Rangel, and Turkey’s Murat Giginoglu and Volan Gogtepe round out the main-draw field.
With the addition of Larsen and Stockman, the USA has five women’s teams and four men’s teams in the five-star draw. Women’s teams April Ross and Alix Klineman, Sara Hughes and Summer Ross, Emily Day and Lauren Fendrick, Nicole Branagh and Kerri Walsh Jennings, and Larsen and Stockman all seek their share of the $300,000 purse as pool play begins Wednesday.
Budinger and Rosenthal will kick the tournament off against Brazil’s Vitor Felipe and Evandro Goncalves at 10 a.m. local, 4 a.m. Eastern. Dalhausser and Lucena will face Germany’s Philipp Bergmann and Yannick Harms at noon local, 6 a.m. Eastern. Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb will simultaneously face Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo. John Hyden and Theo Brunner’s first opponent is the Netherlands’ Christiaan Varenhorst and Jasper Bouter at 1 p.m. local, 7 a.m. Eastern.
Fendrick and Day begin the women’s pool play action against Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina at 2 p.m. local, 8 a.m. Eastern. Branagh and Walsh Jennings play simultaneously against Germany’s Karla Borger and Margareta Kozuch. Larsen and Stockman will face Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude at 5 local, 11 a.m. Eastern, at the same time as Klineman and Ross’ match against Spain’s Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo.
Unlike the previous five-star events, Gstaad is modified pool play. The two pool-play winners will play for a first-round bye, while the two losers will play with the winner entering the elimination rounds while the loser goes home. Modified pool play has the advantage that it eliminates the “dead” matches, where two teams meet after the results are already decided.