The Moscow Grand Slam is well into elimination playoffs; let’s re-examine the Olympic qualifying ramifications for the Americans. April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings take home gold, defeating No. 2 Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes of Brazil, 22-20, 21-17, while the team of Tri Bourne/John Hyden is now out of Rio contention.
No. 5 Nummerdor/Varenhorst of the Netherlands upset No. 1 Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil for gold 21-19, 7-21, 17-15. Nummerdor/Varenhorst scored ten less points than Cerutti/Schmidt, but they won the right points.
Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson finished in fourth, dropping a close match to No. 17 Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor of Poland 19-21, 22-20, 15-12. Their fourth place finish puts the team of Tri Bourne/John Hyden out of Rio contention.
The top American men’s team, No. 3 Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena, lost a squeaker to No. 13 Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo of Italy 22-20, 23-21 in the first round of playoffs. Some will recall that this Italian team spoiled the American’s 2012 Olympics in London, upsetting them in the round of 16. Nicolai/Lupo apparently are Dalhausser/Lucena’s kryptonite.
Even so, Dalhausser/Lucena have officially qualified for the Olympics by completing their 12th event, although they will only earn 120 points/person for their 17th place finish. The 240 points will take them to 5,720 points. Dalhausser/Lucena are currently ranked fourth in the Olympic rankings.
After Moscow, Dalhausser/Lucena drop to fifth, as Nummerdor/Varenhorst made a big move with their gold finish, adding 560 points for a new total of 5,840, reaching fourth place. Brouwer/Meeuwsen finished in 5th place, and will increase their points total by 180, for Olympic ranking scores of 6,160 points. Those numbers will maintain their third place Olympic ranking.
No. 2 Gibb/Patterson advanced by beating No. 24 Michal Kadziola/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland (21-13, 21-18), No. 19 Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany (21-13, 19-21, 15-10), and No. 12 Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira of Spain (21-17, 13-21, 16-14) to reach the semifinals. Gibb/Patterson narrowly lost a nail-biter to Nummerdor/Varenhorst in the semifinals 17-21, 21-16, 15-13
Gibb/Patterson will earn 280 points each. Their twelfth lowest finish during the qualifying period is 150 points, so they will net anywhere from 260 points (280 minus 150 = 130 x 2 = 260). Their current Olympic ranking is 7th with 5,240 points, their point total going into Hamburg will be 5,500 points.
Bourne/Hyden defeated No. 20 Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico 21-16, 21-18 today, but fell to the hottest team in the world, No. 1 Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil 21-15, 21-17. The loss puts Bourne/Hyden in ninth place with 180 points each.
As their previous low score is 150 points, they will add 60 points to their total. Their projected total of 4,850 point leaves them in a 650 point deficit to Gibb/Patterson with only one qualifying event remaining in Hamburg.
As the maximum score attainable is 400 points x 2, and their lowest finish is 180 points, the most Bourne/Hyden can gain is 440 points.
This means that Bourne/Hyden are mathematically eliminated from Olympic contention. Dalhausser/Lucena and Gibb/Patterson will be the 2016 beach Olympics men’s representatives for the USA.
Patterson said: “The reason that Jake Gibb asked me to play with him is to make it to another Olympics, and to medal in the Olympics because he has two fifth place finishes, and has some unfinished business. He felt I was the guy that could help him get there. Our focus from that day was to get to the Olympics and win a medal. Nothing has changed since that day.”
Meanwhile, No. 3 Walsh Jennings/Ross earned gold this week by wins over No. 29 Yulia Abalakina/Ekaterina Syrtseva of Russia 21-14, 21-13, No. 19 Eduarda Lisboa/Elize Maia of Brazil 21-10, 21-15, and No. 6 Juliana Felisberta/Taiana Lima of Brazil 21-16, 22-20, and Antunes/Franca of Brazil 22-20, 21-17. The win is Jennings/Ross first win over Franca/Antunes.
Walsh/Ross’ lowest qualifying score is 120; their gold is worth 400 qualifying points. This will net them 280 x 2 = 560 points.
Their current rank is fourth with 5,790 points; Moscow will bring them to 6,350, enough to surpass third place Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany, who dropped out of the tournament in 9th place, adding 80 points for a projected score of 6,080.
As Walsh/Ross are 740 points behind the second ranked Brazilian team of Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, their highest Olympic qualifying possibility is third (maximum possible gain next week is 560 points).
The second U.S. team is No. 12 Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, who failed to advance from the toughest pool in the tournament. Their 25th-place finish will not add any points.
Compatriots No. 22 Emily Day/Jennifer Kessy advanced from pool play, but lost to No. 11 Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska of Poland 21-14, 18-21, 15-13. The loss puts them in 17th place, unable to improve their qualification scores.
Day/Kessy will have to make up their 490 point deficit to Fendrick/Sweat at Hamburg next week by placing first or second. Fendrick/Sweat can prevent Day/Kessy from overtaking them by finishing ninth or better.
The FIVB Hamburg event is June 7-12.