The first round of elimination play kicks off today at the FIVB Rio Grand Slam, and two American teams per gender remain in the hunt for a medal in the first Grand Slam of 2016.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, playing in their first tournament together since Walsh Jennings shoulder surgery last August, are in the best position to succeed. The duo went 3-0 in pool playincluding defeating fellow countrywomen Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat 21-17, 21-17and earned a bye into the second round.

Fendrick and Sweat went 1-2 in pool but broke thanks to a favorable points spread. They will face Juliana and Lima of Brazil in the first round.

Jen Kessy and Emily Day were the only other American women to make it into the main draw, but their 1-2 pool-play record wasnt good enough advance to the elimination rounds.

Germany’s women’s teams, however, came out strong in the inaugural Grand Slam of this high-pressure Olympic year. Three duosLaura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, Chantal Labourer and Julia Sude, and Karla Borger and Britta Bthefinished on top of their pools and earned first-round byes.

On the men’s side, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena posted the best pool play performance of all the American duos, and theyll head into the elimination rounds with a 2-1 record. A tough match versus the Netherlands Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst awaits this duo in the first round. Dalhausser and Lucena last faced Nummerdor and Varenhorst in pool play of the World Tour Finals last October, winning in three.

Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson broke pool with a 1-2 record after losing tough matches to Italians Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri and Canadians Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter. Theyll face Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany later today in the first round.

Italy’s Adrian Carambula demonstrates his signature skyball serve:

Derek Olson and Jeremy Casebeer celebrated qualifying for their first-ever Grand Slam main draw; however, the duo went 0-3 in pool play and failed to break.


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