Pool play has been completed in the Moscow Grand Slam, the next-to-last Olympic qualification tournament, so let’s see how this affects the race for the second U.S. Olympic spot.
On the women’s side, Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross have cozily qualified with their 12 finishes and 5,790 points, currently ranked No. 4. In their sights is the No. 3 team of Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst at 6,000 points. Walsh/Ross’ lowest finishes are 80 (once) and 120 (twice).
If Walsh/Ross finish fifth or better they will overtake Ludwig/Walkenhorst this week. If Walsh/Ross win both Moscow and Hamburg they could actually finish first in Olympic rankings if neither Brazilian team advances their score by more than 50 points (Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes) or 120 points (Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas). Due to the FIVB seeding system, however, they would only be seeded second to the host country by FIVB rule.
Walsh/Ross completed their pool play in Moscow with a 3-0 record, dropping two sets. Their point ratio of 1.141 has qualified them for a bye in the first round of playoffs. No. 3 Walsh/Ross defeated No. 30 Nadezda Makroguzova/Olga Motrich of Russia 19-21, 21-14, 15-10, No. 19 Eduarda Lisboa/Eliza Maia of Brazil 18-21, 21-17, 16-14, and No. 14 Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland 31-29, 21-16.
Walsh/Ross will face either No. 22 Emily Day/Jennifer Kessy of the USA or No. 29 Yulia Abalakina/Ekaterina Syrtseva of Russia in the second round of playoffs.
Emily Day/Jennifer Kessy finished pool with a 1-2 match record, 3-4 in sets. Their point ratio was exactly 1.000 (won and lost 127 points). Day/Kessy defeated No. 11 Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska of Poland 21-19, 21-15, but lost to No. 6 Juliana Felisberta/Taiana Lima of Brazil 21-12, 21-19, and No. 27 Victoria Bieneck/Julia Grossner of Germany 21-19, 14-21, 16-14.
Day/Kessy will face No. 29 Yulia Abalakina/Ekaterina Syrtseva of Russia in the first round of elimination playoffs. Day/Kessy’s low finishes during the qualification period are 120 (twice), so they will need to finish 9th or better to improve their Olympic qualification scores, so the match against the Russians is critical.
If they wish to overtake countrywomen Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, they must finish second at this event, which would net them a narrow ten point lead with one event remaining.
No. 12 Fendrick/Sweat ended up in the most challenging pool of the tournament. Although all of their matches went three games, in the end their pool result was 0-3 in matches, and they will look forward to Hamburg. Their point ratio was a close .944 (152 won, 161 lost). Fendrick/Sweat lost to an athletic and dangerous No. 21 Linline Matuatu/Miller Pata of Vanuatu 18-21, 21-15, 15-13, countrywomen No. 28 Lane Carico/Summer Ross 16-21, 21-19, 15-12, and a very tough No. 5 Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada 21-17, 19-21, 15-13. Fendrick/Sweat will have to hope that their current lead of 490 points over Day/Kessy is sufficient, along with better results in Hamburg.
For the men, Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena are currently ranked No. 4 in Olympic qualification with 5,480 points. They have officially qualified at this tournament, having met the minimum event requirements. At Moscow, they are seeded No. 3, and finished second in their pool with a 2-1 match record.
Dalhausser/Lucena deeated No. 30 Dmitri Barsouk/Nikita Liamin of Russia (21-14, 21-18) and No. 14 Alex Ranghiere/Adrian Carambula of Italy (21-13, 18-21, 15-9). No. 19 Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany defeated Dalhausser/Lucena narrowly 21-19, 22-20. Erdmann/Matysik are one of the teams on the Olympic bubble at No. 17, the last team to qualify at this time.
Dalhausser/Lucena will face a very tough No. 13 Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo of Italy in the first round of elimination playoffs. The Italians eliminated Dalhausser in the round of 16 in the London 2012 Olympics when Dalhausser was partnered with Todd Rogers. The winner will face No. 10 Chaim Schalk/Ben Saxton of Canada.
Dalhausser/Lucena are 500 points behind Olympic ranked No. 3 Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meuwsen at 5,980 points. Dalhausser/Lucena could pass them with a fourth place here in Moscow, presuming no advancement by the Dutch team.
No. 2 Jacob Gibb/Casey Patterson have a 2-1 match record from pool play. Their sets won/loss record is 4-3, with a points ratio of 1.008. Gibb/Patterson defeated both No. 31 Sean Faiga/Ariel Hilman of Israel (21-19, 21-18) and No. 18 Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen of Germany (21-19, 21-13). No. 15 Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel of Poland got the best of Gibb/Patterson, defeating them 21-17, 21-14. Their pool play record places them in second place.
They will face No. 24 Michal Kadziola/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland in the first round, followed by No. 19 Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany. Gibb/Patterson have an excellent draw for a loaded Grand Slam event.
Gibb/Patterson would like to expand their lead over Tri Bourne/John Hyden of the USA, as well as finish in sixth place or better in Olympic qualifying, assuring themselves that they will be the top dog in their Olympic pool. To do so, they only need to gain 40 points on No. 6 Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands. As their lowest qualifying finish is 150 points, they only need a fifth place (two playoff wins), if no further improvement is realized by the Dutch team.
No. 11 Tri Bourne/John Hyden of the USA are currently ranked 13th in Olympic qualification at 4,790 points. They began Moscow by finishing second in their pool with a three way tie match record of 1-2. Bourne/Hyden defeated No. 22 Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson of France 18-21, 21-18, 15-12. Their two losses came at the hands of No. 27 Martins Plavins/Haralds Regza of Latvia (18-21, 21-17, 19-17) and No. 6 Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands (21-18, 17-21, 15-10). Their point ratio of 158 for/162 against was good enough for them to advance out of pool in second place.
Bourne/Hyden’s next task is No. 20 Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico in the elimination rounds. The winner of that match has the unenviable task of challenging the No. 1 Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, the hottest team on the tour.
Bourne/Hyden are currently in a 450-point deficit to Gibb/Patterson. To make up the entire deficit in one tournament, Bourne/Hyden would have to win the event. To make up the difference in two events, Bourne/Hyden would have to finish fourth in both events, all of this presuming that Gibb/Patterson does not improve any of their scores.
Come back to VolleyballMag.com for daily updates on Olympic qualification through the Moscow and Hamburg events.
The semifinals and medal matches will be broadcast live on Youtube