Volleyball Quick Hits 10/2018: Spieler-Cook win NORCECA gold, Vaught-Mewhirter silver

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Travis Mewhirter-Martinique-Norceca-Ben Vaught
Travis Mewhirter spikes crosscourt in the gold-medal final against Puerto Rico/NORCECA photo

VolleyballMag.com’s ongoing update of happenings in the world of volleyball. Got a news nugget? Email Lee@volleyballmag.com or Ed@volleyballmag.com:

Spieler-Cook win NORCECA gold, Vaught-Mewhirter silver: Americans Katie Spieler and Karissa Cook won the NORCECA beach volleyball tournament Sunday in Pointe Du-Martin on the Caribbean island of Martinique.

Spieler and Cook defeated Canadians Sophie Bukovec and Alexandra Poletto 21-18, 20-22, 15-12 to cap their first NORCECA tour win.

Americans Ben Vaught and Travis Mewhirter — the VolleyballMag.com contributor playing in his first international event — lost in the men’s final to Puerto Rico’s Cristian Encarnacion and Juan Ribas in three sets, 16-21, 21-17, 15-10.

The USA’s Victoria Dennis and Melissa Fuchs finished sixth, losing 21-13, 21-16 to Kathya Vasquez and Maria Fernanda Vargas of El Salvador.

Bukovec is a former member of the NCAA-champions USC beach program. Poletto was a middle blocker at Colorado State and has transferred to USC, where she will compete as a grad student in the spring.

The NORCECA event was the sixth and final stop of the 2018 circuit.

Good day for Americans at FIVB 4-star in Yangzhou, China: Americans fared well Thursday as the main draw of the first four-star Olympic qualifying event kicked off in Yangzhou, China.

Eight American pairs are competing in the main draw, with modified pool play to be completed Friday.

Ryan Doherty and Billy Allen are 2-0 and will receive a first-round bye in the elimination playoffs. Allen-Doherty defeated Italy’s Marco Caminati and Enrico Rossi (21-17, 21-16) and then advanced by forfeit over the Ukraine’s Iaroslav Gordieiev and Sergiy Popov.

Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick finished 1-1, qualifying for the first round of playoffs. Patterson-Slick defeated Serbia’s Stefan Basta and Lazar Kolaric (20-22, 21-16, 15-12), but lost to second-seeded Brazilians Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Pedro Solberg (21-14, 24-26, 15-12).

Miles Evans and Bill Kolinske went 0-1, losing to eighth-seeded Peng Gao and Likejian Gao of China (18-21, 21-19,15-10). Evans and Kolinske will face Estonia’s Kusti Nolvak and Mart Tiisaar at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, with the winner advancing to playoffs.

All five USA women’s teams went 1-0 Thursday and will play Friday morning with the winner receiving a bye. Alix Klineman and April Ross defeated China’s Meimei Lin and Lingdi Zhu (18-21, 21-13, 26-24). Americans Emily Day and Betsi Flint defeated Brazil’s Josemari Alves and Liliane Maestrini (15-21, 23-21, 15-13). Klineman-Ross will face Day-Flint at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Sara Hughes and Summer Ross defeated Brazil’s Carolina Horta and Angela Lavalle (21-19, 18-21, 15-9) in their first pool play match, earning the right to play Russia’s Ekaterina Birlova and Evgeniya Ukolova at 9 p.m. ET Thursday.

Americans Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman began with a defeat of Thailand’s Khanittha Hongpak (21-11, 21-17) and will play Slovakia’s Natalia Dubovcova and Andrea Strbova at 9:50 p.m ET.

Kelly Claes and Kerri Walsh Jennings defeated the Netherlands’ Laura Bloem and Jolien Sinnema (25-23, 21-13). Their next opponent is China’s Fan Wang and Chen Xue at 9:50 p.m. ET.

Yangzhou is the second of five dual-gender events to be held in China. Next up is Xiamen (April 24-28, three-star), followed by Jinjiang (May 22-26, four-star), Nantong (June 13-16, two-star) and Qidong (July 4-7, two-star).

Heather Bansley-Brandie Wilkerson-April Ross-Alix Klineman-Kelley Larsen-Emily Stockman-Boca Chica-Dominican Republic-Norceca Continental Tour Final
Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson, USA’s April Ross and Alix Klineman, USA’s Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman on the medal stand at the Norceca Tour Finals

Klineman-Ross take NORCECA gold, Larsen-Stockman get bronze: Alix Klineman and April Ross won gold Sunday at the NORCECA Continental Tour Final in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic beating Canada’s Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley 21-16, 21-18 in the final.

Larsen and Stockman beat Cuba’s Arlin Hechavarria and Yanisleidis Sanchez 21-14, 21-16 for third place.

On the men’s side, the USA’s Billy Allen and Ryan Doherty finished fourth, losing the bronze-medal match to Canadians Ben Saxton and Grant O’Gorman 21-19, 21-16. Americans Avery Drost and Eric Zaun finished seventh.

Mexicans Josue Gaxiola and Jose Luis Rubio took gold in a 22-20, 17-21, 15-13 victory over Canadians Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter.

The full results can be found at BVBinfo.com.

USA women 6-0 after beating Bulgaria: The USA women’s national team swept Bulgaria 25-16, 25-17, 25-11 Sunday at the FIVB World Championships in Osaka, Japan, to improve to 6-0.

The Americans play again at 12:25 a.m. Eastern Monday when they take on Turkey.

Against Bulgaria, which dropped to 2-4, Kim Hill led with 12 kills and a block. Karsta Lowe had 11 kills and an ace and Jordan Larson had seven kills and two aces.

The USA. which went 6-0 in the first round at Kobe, Japan, plays again Wednesday against China and then Thursday against Italy.

USAVolleyball.org has the complete wrap-up and schedule.

Click here for more from the FIVB.

Bourne-Crabb win FIVB in China: Tri Bourne put a punctuation point on his comeback as he and partner Trevor Crabb won gold Thursday at the three-star FIVB beach event in Qinzhou, China.

Fellow Americans Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil took bronze.
Bourne and Crabb defeated Taras Myskiv and Valeriy Samoday of Russia 21-18, 21-9, while Claes and Sponcil secured the bronze with a win over Ekaterina Birlova and Evgeniya Ukolova 21-13, 21-16.

The tournament was Bourne’s return to FIVB competition following his bout with myositis, a chronic inflammatory muscle disease that sidelined him for nearly two years.

Since his return, Bourne has partnered with his childhood friend and they finished seventh in Manhattan Beach, fifth in Chicago, and third in Waikiki this year.

Claes, the former USC star, and Sponcil, the current UCLA player, were playing together for the first time, and put together a solid tournament. They beat Russia’s Alexandra Moiseeva and Ekaterina Syrtseva (21-16, 21-11), Americans Amanda Dowdy and Irene Pollock (21-15, 21-13), Brazilians Carolina Horta and Angela Lavalle (21-14, 21-17), Slovaks Natalia Dubovcova and Andrea Strbova before losing to Marta Menegatti and Orsi Toth Italy 21-19, 21-14.

Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle of Belgium won men’s bronze, while Rebecca Cavalcanti and Ana Patricia Silva of Brazil beat Menegatti and Toth for women’s gold.

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