Headlined by three-time gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, five USA pairs advanced to Saturday’s second round of the FIVB four-star beach tournament in Xiamen, China.
Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and Nicole Branagh, Kelly Claes and Brittany Hochevar, Alix Klineman and April Ross, and Sara Hughes and Summer Ross reached the second round for the women, while Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb are the sole USA men surviving.
Walsh Jennings and Branagh were defeated by Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan in pool play (21-15, 22-24, 18-16). They went on to defeat compatriots Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman (21-15, 21-17). Larsen and Stockman broke pool by upsetting the tenth seed, Canadians Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson (21-18, 21-13).
Walsh Jennings and Branagh will face the Commonwealth Games silver medalists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho of Australia Saturday.
Klineman and Ross finished pool play with an upset win over fourth-seeded Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli of Switzerland (21-17, 18-21, 32-30), winning their pool and the bye that comes with it.
Their next opponents will be Russians Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina.
Claes and Hochevar bounced back from Wednesday’s loss to finish pool play with a win over Lithuania’s Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte (22-20, 21-12). The qualifiers also upset Switzerland’s Betschart and Huberli in a dramatic 67-minute match (21-17, 18-21, 32-30).
Claes and Hochevar will face off with Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre next.
Hughes and Ross defeated Czechs Kristyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova (21-13, 22-20) to earn their bye, and will need to defeat Germany’s Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger to advance Saturday.
In the men’s draw, Gibb and Crabb lost a tough three-setter to top-seeded Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak of Poland (22-20, 17-21, 16-14), but bounced back with a solid win over Belgians Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle (21-18, 21-12) to reach Saturday.
Gibb and Crabb’s next opponent will be the No. 7 seeded Russians Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Nikita Liamin.
No other USA men won Friday. Allen and Doherty lost to Russians Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Igor Velichko in pool play (27-25, 21-12), and then Austrians Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst in playoffs (21-16, 21-16).
Brunner and Hyden lost in pool play to Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins Latvia (21-14, 21-16). They were subsequently eliminated by Brazil’s Olympic gold medalists Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt in straight sets (23-21, 21-17).