Americans Theo Brunner and Casey Patterson spilt their matches Wednesday as the FIVB Swatch Major Hamburg World Tour Finals got under way in Germany.
The $800,000 event in 13,000-seat Rothenbaum stadium has a decidedly different feel than the typical five-star, 32 teams-per-gender event. Rather than the 32 teams in eight pools of four, there are 12 teams in four pools of three.
Countries are limited to two teams per gender, so Brazil will not be sweeping the podium. Pool play will be followed by single-elimination playoffs, with all 12 teams advancing from pool.
The United States has four teams in the draw, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross, plus two pairs of wild cards, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick and Brunner and Patterson.
Patterson and Brunner split two three-set matches, defeating FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship gold-medalists Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola of Brazil 21-18, 16-21, 15-13, but lost to bronze-medalists Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia 18-21, 21-17, 15-10.
Dalhausser and Lucena are in a strong pool with World Championship silver medalists Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst of Austria and Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain.
But they opened with a 21-19, 21-13 defeat of Gavira and Herrera, and will face Doppler and Horst at 2 p.m. Thursday local time, 8 a.m. Eastern.
Sweat and Ross have arguably the toughest pool in the tournament, with World Championship bronze-medalists Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil and gold-medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.
Sweat and Ross open Thursday with Ludwig and Walkenhorst at 7 p.m., 1 p.m. Eastern.
Ross and Fendrick have two tough pool opponents in Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Lisboa of Brazil and Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli of Switzerland. Thursday Ross and Fendrick will begin pool play at noon local time, 5 p.m. Eastern, against Betschart and Huberli.
Thanks to BVBinfo.com for all the results. Click here for the men’s matches from Wednesday and Thursday’s schedule. For the women’s results and schedules, click here.