All four U.S. women’s teams competing at the 2019 FIVB Vienna Five Star advanced out of pool play and will compete in the elimination rounds starting Thursday.
April Ross and Alix Klineman, who are looking for their fourth medal in a row, won their pool, sweeping both opponents: No. 32-seeded Nadine Strauss and Teresa Strauss of Austria (21-16, 21-19) and Slovakia’s No. 16 seed Natalia Dubovcova and Andrea Strbova (21-18, 21-13).
The pair, seeded No. 1 seed in Vienna, will receive a bye in the first round of tomorrow’s playoffs and will play the winner of Karla Borger/Julia Sude of Germany versus Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova of Czech Republic.
No. 2 seed Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada also went 2-0 in pool and will be opposite Klineman and Ross in the elimination bracket, perhaps setting up a rubber match for the two teams that faced each other in the World Championships final in Hamburg (which the Canadians won) and in the Tokyo Four star gold-medal match (which the Americans won).
Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, the No. 13 seed, won a pair of three-set matches to finish on top of their pool. First, they took down Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland, seeded 20th, 15-21, 21-19, 15-12, and then scored a 21-14, 12-21, 15-9 upset over Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa of Brazil, who are seeded fourth and took silver last week in Tokyo.
After coming through the qualifier, Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman went 1-1 in pool, beating Italy’s No. 19-seeded Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth 21-17, 21-17 and losing to No. 3 seed Rebecca Cavalcanti and Ana Patricia Silva of Brazil 21-12, 21-19.
Larsen and Stockman are becoming quite familiar with Rebecca and Ana Patricia—the two teams have played each other three times in the last month, with the Brazilians winning in Espinho and the Americans pulling off the upset in Tokyo before this meeting in Vienna. All time, the series between the teams is tied 2-2.
Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat also went 1-1 in pool play, narrowly losing to No. 25-seeded Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima of Brazil 25-23, 18-21, 15-13 after beating Sandra Ittlinger and Chantal Laboureur of Germany, the No. 24 seed, 21-16, 21-15.
With the men’s schedule running a day behind the women’s, the men spent Thursday finishing up qualification rounds. The only American team in the qualifier, Theo Brunner and Reid Priddy, won their second-round matchup over Julian Horl and Tobias Winter of Austria 21-17, 21-18 to advance.
Just last week, Brunner and Priddy played Horl and Winter and came out on the losing end to sacrifice a chance to make the elimination bracket in Tokyo.
“It was almost like last week in Tokyo,” Brunner said. “We won the first set in Tokyo and had a lead in the second set. The same thing almost happened again today. We win the first set and had a comfortable lead in the second set and the Austrians came charging back. This time we were able to withstand their last rally.”
Brunner and Priddy defeated another Austrian team, Peter Eglseer and Florian Schnetzer, 21-16, 21-15 on Tuesday in the first round of the men’s qualifier.
In other USA beach volleyball news, Jace Pardon and Karissa Cook won gold at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Cook and Pardon defeated Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereira of Argentina 14-21, 22-20, 15-10 to become the first American beach volleyball team to win gold at the Pan Am Games.
That first set loss to Gallay and Pereira marked the only set the U.S. pair lost all tournament.
“Argentina came out really strong and I don’t think they ever let up,” Pardon told the Associated Press. “It was just about us staying really gritty. Even though we never felt like it was really beautiful volleyball that we were playing, we found a way to score, and luckily it was more than them.”