Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb clinched one of the two USA spots in the Tokyo Olympics on Friday despite losing their pool-play match in the morning and then losing out in the first round of playoffs in the FIVB four-star pro beach volleyball event in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
That’s because fellow Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena lost both their pool-play matches. “Dalcena” are still in contention, however. They have to hope that Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, the other USA team in the hunt, do not win the entire tournament.
Bourne-Crabb, the 12th seed, are into the second round of the winners bracket and play Saturday against 19th-seeded Brazilians Andre Loyola and George Wanderley.
On the women’s side, the two teams that are going to the Olympics are into Saturday’s quarterfinals. Ninth-seeded Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, who last week won it all in Sochi and clinched their Olympic berth, play 13th-seeded Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands.
Crabb/Gibb earned their berth when Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena exited the ongoing four-star tournament in Ostrava, Czech Republic, after pool play. The two pairs are currently tied in the Olympic Rankings with 7,040 points, but Crabb/Gibb would win a tiebreaker by virtue of accumulating more points during the Olympic Qualification process that started in 2018.
Since September 1, 2018, Crabb/Gibb have accumulated 9,300 total Olympic Ranking points in 19 tournaments, meaning they have more tournaments and more points than any other American men’s pair. According to FIVB guidelines, cumulative Olympic ranking points is the first tiebreaker used when determining whom to nominate for the Olympic Games. Crabb/Gibb and Dalhausser/Lucena’s 7,040 Olympic ranking points are determined by a team’s 12 highest finishes in Olympic qualifying tournaments. But Crabb/Gibb have more total points than Dalhausser/Lucena, which mathematically secures them one of two Olympic berths.
Crabb/Gibb finished in the top five at eight FIVB events during the qualification period, and they’ve medaled twice. They won a four-star in Chetamul, Mexico in 2019, and they took bronze in Doha earlier this year.
Tokyo will be Gibb’s fourth Olympic Games. He made his Olympic debut in 2008 with then-partner Sean Rosenthal. The duo also competed in London 2012, and Gibb partnered with Casey Patterson in Rio 2016. Gibb’s best Olympic finish is fifth, which he has reached twice.
Gibb, 45, will become the oldest volleyball Olympian, beach or indoor, in history.
Crabb, 29, will make his Olympic debut. He’s competed on the FIVB World Tour since 2015.
Gibb and Crabb, the 15th seed who won their pool-play match Thursday, lost 21-19, 21-17 second-seeded Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway. Then in the first round of the qualifier bracket, they got swept by Loyola and Wanderley of Brazil 21-16, 21-14.
Tenth-seeded Dalhausser and Lucena, who lost their pool-play match on Thursday, were eliminated Friday by Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot of the Netherlands, who came through the qualifier and are seeded 26th. They play countrymen Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen in Saturday’s round of 16.
Bourne and Trevor Crabb, seeded 12th, won their second pool-play match, beating 2th-seeded Samule Cottafava and Jakob Windisch of Italy 21-19, 23-21 and were able to skip the first round of the winners bracket.
Claes and Sponcil, who went 2-0 in pool play, went right into the second round of the winners bracket and beat 16th-seeded Germans Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider 21-14, 21-19.
Ross and Klineman beat 24th-seeded Kinga Wojtasik and Katarzyna Kociołek of Poland 21-12, 21-12, and then beat fourth-seeded Nadeza Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina of Russia 21-14, 21-9.
Stockman and Kolinske lost to Heidrich and Depre 21-14, 25-27, 21-19.