HAMBURG, Germany — Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat won a record-setting match Sunday at the 2019 FIVB World Beach Championships by the incredible scores of 21-2, 21-2.
That was a tough act to follow for the other American teams in action on a day when the temperature rose substantially, but not for Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, April Ross and Alix Klineman, and Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman, who also won easily.
Billy Allen and Stafford Slick stayed alive with a big upset when they rallied to win in three, and Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb won in two.
But later Sunday, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena were upset by Canadians Grant O’Gorman and Ben Saxton.
Pool play continues Monday. Click here for BVBinfo.com’s full schedule and complete men’s results, and here for the women’s. And see below for our photo gallery.
Walsh Jennings and Sweat set two records and tied another with their 21-2, 21-2, 21-minute beat-down of Maita Cousin and Nathalie Letendrie, the 42nd seed from Mauritius. Mauritius is an island off the coast of Madagascar known for its beaches, tropical climate and is a major European vacation destination.
But Hamburg was a tougher place to play than Mauritius: Cousin and Letendrie scored their first point in the first set to make it 19-1.
The previous lowest score in an FIVB two-set match was 52 total points, when Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic beat Ikram Ettayfi and Mahassine Siad of Morocco 21-8, 21-2 in the The Hague in 2015. That was also the lowest second-set score ever.
Sunday’s was also the lowest score in the first set. The previous record was set when Rebekka Kadijk and Marrit Leenstra of the Netherlands beat Cecilie Josefsen and Kristine Wiig of Norway 21-3, 21-10 in 2003.
This has been a tough tournament for the Mauritians, who lost their first match Friday to Australia’s Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho 21-5, 21-6.
But point differential is one of the FIVB tiebreakers, so it was important for Walsh Jennings and Sweat to not let up in anticipation of their Tuesday match against Clancy and Artacho with an automatic elimination playoff spot on the line.
“We wanted to have them score less than Australia,” Walsh Jennings said. “Everything matters, everyone can say ‘Don’t be an a-hole, don’t do that.’
“Normally, we would have taken that game to work on things and be more creative, but we just wanted to win and score a lot of points and not let them score too many, because that helps us moving forward.”
Sweat served 18 in a row to begin the match.
“I thought we put some pressure on them serving and they had some trouble there,” she understated. “They made some great shots. I was definitely running around.
“We had to be really scrappy. Sometimes we didn’t know where the ball was going, so we were hustling and scrapping. They definitely made us work for it and then we were able to put the ball away once we got it up.”
Walsh Jennings and Sweat earlier this season win the FIVB four-star in Jinijiang, China, and took fourth at a four-star two weeks ago in Warsaw.
“Everything is possible,” Sweat said. “I feel like we’re getting better and better throughout the tournament. We will just get back to clicking and our mojo, getting our rhythm, I’m looking forward to playing a lot.”
Both Walsh Jennings and Sweat, the 18th seed, and the seventh-seeded Australians are 1-1 in Pool G, because they both lost to 31st-seeded Marleen van Iersel and Joy Stubbe of the Netherlands. They get the Mauritians on Tuesday.
“We played the Aussies three times this year, we’re 2-1 and want to extend our streak. They’re very physical, very straight forward. It’s a great match for us to work on our rhythm. When we’re dancing, we’re really hard to beat, and that’s what we want to focus on, not the outcome, but how we feel out there, and tomorrow should be fun.”
Dalhausser and Lucena, the sixth seed, were knocked off by 30th-seeded O’Gorman and Saxton 21-16, 21-19 to drop to 1-1. They’re off until Tuesday when they play the 19th seed, Dutch pair Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen with getting into the playoff on the line.
“I thought we started off really slowly, and it didn’t look like we were into it,” Lucena said. “We didn’t get going until we were down 13-8, and in the World Championships you can’t do that. Hats off to them though, they played well.”
Claes and Sponcil improved to 2-0 as the No. 16 seeds beat 40th-seeded Colombians Yuli Ayala and Diana Rios 21-8, 21-9 in 23 minutes.
“It’s hotter than yesterday, that’s for sure,” Sponcil said. “I think coming in, we just wanted to play on our side and make sure that we’re getting better each match, and I think we did that.”
“I totally agree,” Claes said. “We wanted to go in working on our serving, especially the serves we want to do against Canada (Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan) on Tuesday, so I think this was a good training for that and staying consistent in kind of crazy plays.”
Klineman and Ross, the fifth seed, made quick work of 29th-seeded Xinxin Wang and Chen Xue of China 21-10, 21-11, winning in 32 minutes.
“The only time we played them this year, we actually lost, so we had a lot of motivation going into the match today,” Klineman said. “We know that they’re a tough serving team, they’re really physical too. They’re tall, and I feel like we came up with a really complete game plan and we executed it really well.”
Klineman and Ross are also 2-0 and play 20th-seeded Germans Karla Borger and Julia Sude on Monday.
“I think it’s going to be a great match,” Klineman said. “We’re playing the Germans on center court, and I’m sure it’s be a big crowd rooting for them. We’re excited for that adversity. We want to come out first in our pool and look forward to the playoffs.”
Allen and Slick, seeded 29th and facing an 0-2 start, came back to beat fifth-seeded Russians Ilya Leshukov and Konstantin Semenov 13-21, 27-25, 15-12.
“This is probably our best FIVB win,” Allen said.
“We’re excited,” Slick said.” That’s a tough team. That team took a bronze in Ostrava a couple of weeks ago, so it feels good to come away with a win there for sure.”
Allen said he made adjustments that helped.
“I stopped hitting directly at the defender in the middle of the court. I feel like I was really one-dimensional the first game, and he was just sitting on it, and then I got a little bit more crafty and moved it around a little bit,” Allen said. “And then once Stafford started getting some blocks, you could see the energy starting to build.
“I think this was a good turning point. We had a lot of three-game losses this year where we won the first, and this was the opposite where we got crushed the first. Maybe it’s a new strategy to kind of lose badly and have to battle back.”
Gibb and Crabb, the seventh seeded, beat the 31st-seeded Russian pair of Maksim Hudyakov and Igor Velichko 21-15, 21-14, to go 2-0.
“To be honest, the first World Championships, I didn’t understand how big it was and how much it meant,” Crabb said. “Especially with this one counting toward the Olympics, this is do or die right now. I think we started out on a good foot, and we just want to continue to get better throughout the tournament.
“It was solid ball by both of us. We stuck to our game plan, our coach created a good game plan, and we just held to it the whole time. We didn’t need to switch things up too much, so compliment to our coach for having that for us.”
Their next match is Tuesday against the 18th-seeded pair of Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak of Poland.
“We played them in the last World Champs to win our pool, the exact same thing,” Gibb said. “I think we lost 16-14 in the third. We owe them one.”
Larsen and Stockman, seeded 15th, overpowered the 39th-seeded pair of Francisca Ikhiede and Tochukwu Nnoruga of Nigeria 21-6, 21-13.