HAMBURG, Germany — The 2019 FIVB World Beach Championships started off with a thud for three of the four USA teams that played Friday.

Both women’s teams — Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat and Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen — lost their opening pool-play matches. And so did Billy Allen and Stafford Slick.

The lone winners were Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena.

The rest of the Americans get going Saturday in the play-every-other-day format, including fifth-seeded Alix Klineman and April Ross, 11th-seeded Sara Hughes and Summer Ross, and 16th-seeded Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil. 

Click here for the complete women’s schedule and Friday’s results, courtesy of

Also Saturday, seventh-seeded Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb and 13th-seeded Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb begin play.

Click here for the complete men’s schedule and Friday’s results, courtesy of

A loss ratchets up the pressure in later pool matches, since the top two teams in each pool of four are guaranteed to advance to elimination playoffs. Eight of the 12 third-place teams will play off in “lucky loser” matches to advance.

Walsh Jennings and Sweat, seeded No.18, lost to 31st-seeded Joy Stubbe and Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands 21-15, 19-21, 15-9 in a match that took an hour, 7 minutes.

“It sucked,” said Walsh Jennings, the three-time Olympic gold-medalist. “Nothing was great about it except that we didn’t quit. It was just a match where there was no mojo for us. They came out really aggressively against us.”

Conversely, she said, they have to be more assertive themselves. 

“We need to be the storm, not endure it,” Walsh Jennings said. 

Larsen and Stockman, seeded 15th, got swept 21-19, 21-15 by Margareta Kozuch and Olympic gold-medalist Laura Ludwig, the 34th-seeded Germans fueled by playing at home.

“Germany played really well,” Larsen said. “They had all the fans going for them. It was a cool environment to play in. We didn’t bring our A game. I thought they made good defensive plays and we were struggling to stop them.

“Tough loss but it’s on to the next one. There’s plenty more tournament left.”

Sixth-seeded Dalhausser and Lucena blasted 43rd-seeded Julian Azaad and Nicolas Capogroso of Argentina 21-14, 21-13.

“It was as smooth as we drew it up. We watched every single video that there is on these guys in the data base and we were ready and executed the game plan,” Dalhausser said. 

And Allen and Slick, seeded 29th, fell to 20th-seeded Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho 19-21, 21-15, 15-10.

“In the first set we did a good job controlling our side. Not many errors, and it was a back-and-forth effort until the very end, and we pulled it out at the end 21-19,” Slick said.

“They dialed up their blocking defense in the second set. We may have been a little too aggressive with our setting. Alison is a big block, it’s tough to get the ball by him when it’s tight. They made some good adjustments in block defense.”

Added Allen, “In the third set they started digging my shots. They were going down in the first and second sets.”

“The best teams are going to make those adjustments,” Slick said, “and we hope to be right up there with those teams on Sunday.”

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