FIVB Xiamen: Walsh Jennings-Branagh win first match, strong day for USA

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American Ryan Doherty, left, jousts with Jiaxin Wu of China/FIVB photo

She’s back.

Kerri Walsh Jennings, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, and partner Nicole Branagh won their first match of 2018, a pool-play victory Thursday over Germans Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger in the four-star FIVB Xiamen.

It sets up a Friday pool-play match against top-seeded Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes.

Overall, Thursday was a strong one for American pairs. USA women went 3-2 and USA men’s pairs won all three of their matches.

There was one huge upset Thursday as 23rd-seeded Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway — who got through the qualifier — stunned 10th-seeded Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil 21-16, 21-17.

Canadian Sarah Pavan blocks against China’s Jinjin Zeng/FIVB photo

Walsh Jennings and Branagh, seeded 17th, had to rally against the 16th-seeded Germans but then turned it on, winning 14-21, 21-14, 15-4. Pavan, the former Nebraska star, and Humana-Paredes routed 32nd-seeded Shuting Cao and Jinjin Zeng of China 21-18, 21-8.

April Ross and new partner Alix Klineman, seeded 13th, swept Poland’s Katarzyna Kociolek and Kinga Kolosinska 21-13, 22-20 and will play fourth-seeeded Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli of Switzerland on Friday.

Fifth-seeded Sara Hughes and Summer Ross, another new pair, rolled past Norway’s Ingrid Lunde and Oda Ulveseth in 31 minutes 21-15, 21-15. They play Russians Svetlana Kholomina and Nadezda Makroguzova.

Two other new USA pairs lost. Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman, seeded 26th, lost to seventh-seeded Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Lisboa 21-16, 21-6, while 22nd-seeded Brittany Hochevar and Kelly Claes fell to 11th-seeded Australians Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy 21-18, 21-16.

BVBinfo.com has the complete women’s results and schedule.

American men Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb, Theo Brunner and John Hyden and Billy Allen and Ryan Doherty all won their pool-play matches.

Crabb and Gibb, seeded 16th, got past 17th-seeded Brazilians Saymon Barbosa and Alvaro Filho 21-19, 21-11. They play top-seeded Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak of Poland.

Brunner and Hyden, the No. 12 seed, beat 21st-seeded Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle of Belgium 25-23, 21-18 and face fifth-seeded Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins.

Allen and Doherty, seeded 25th, had to fight back to beat China’s Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu, the eighth seed, 19-21, 21-16, 17-15. They play ninth-seeded Russians Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Igor Velichko.

BVBinfo.com has the complete men’s results and schedule.

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