Thursday was a great day to be a U.S. women’s team at the FIVB Tokyo Four Star. It was not nearly as good of a day to be a U.S. men’s team.
All four American women’s pairs won both pool play matches on the first day of main draw action at the Olympic test event, headlined by the teams of Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil and Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, which both held their opponents under 20 points per set.
Claes and Sponcil, who had to come through the qualifier but are the No. 11 seed in the main draw, will have to face No. 2 seed and recently crowned world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in the final match of the pool on Friday (in Tokyo, which is late Thursday evening in the U.S.) to determine the winner of Pool B.
On Thursday, the young American pair scored victories over No. 14 seed Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova of Czech Republic (21-15, 21-18) and No. 23 seed Yurika Sakaguchi and Chiyo Suzuki of Japan (21-14, 21-13).
Walsh Jennings and Sweat kept opponents Karla Borger and Julia Sude of Germany under 10 points in the second set of both teams’ tournament-opening match (21-17, 21-8). Against France’s Aline Chamereau and Alex Jupiter (a former USC indoor star), the scores were closer (21-17, 21-15), but the final result was still a dominant win for the Americans.
Tournament No. 1-seeded April Ross and Alix Klineman topped No. 24 seed Suzuka Hashimoto and Sayaka Mizoe of Japan 21-16, 21-14 and No. 13 seed Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider of Germany 25-23, 18-21 to go 2-0 Thursday. A match versus Canadians Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley on Friday will determine the winner of Pool A.
No. 10-seeded Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman didn’t lose a set either, defeating 15-seed Xinxin Wang and Chen Xue of China 21-17, 21-9 and Poland’s No. 22-seeded Katarzyna Kociolek and Kinga Wojtasik of Poland 23-21, 21-18.
Click here for full women’s results on BVBinfo.
On the men’s side of things, only No. 12-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena won both of their matches, sweeping Theo Brunner and Reid Priddy (21-15, 21-18) and sneaking past Austria’s Julia Horl and Tobias Winter in three (19-21, 21-15, 15-11). Brunner and Priddy, who came through the qualifier, lost their second match to Gstaad champions Anders Mol and Christian Sorum to go winless Thursday.
No. 13 seed Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb also lost two matches, both of which were against teams that came through the qualifier—Peng Gao and Yang Li of China and Philipp Bergmann and Yannick Harms of Germany. Both Gibb/Crabb and Brunner/Priddy must win their final pool play matches to have hopes of securing a lucky loser spot in the elimination bracket.
Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb experienced mixed fortunes, losing 21-17, 21-15 to Saymon Barbosa and Guto Garvalhaes of Brazil but then defeating qualifier team Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu of China 24-22, 21-15.
Click here for full men’s results from Tokyo on BVBinfo.