When the dust cleared Thursday at the FIVB/ Cincinnati Open, 12 of 14 American teams advanced from the international Olympic qualifier. Six of those teams have legitimate Olympic aspirations with only three events remaining in the Olympic qualification period ending June 13. All six of the American teams in contention advanced from pool play into the 24 team single-elimination bracket.
The winning men’s and women’s teams will split $11,000, and more importantly, 500 Olympic qualifying points. Here’s a quick round-up on the men’s and women’s teams in action today:
No. 2 Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena of the U.S. are likely to qualify pending completion of their two remaining mandatory events. Dalhausser/Lucena won their pool 3-0, completing two matches in straight sets over No. 15 Maciej Kosiak/Maciej Rudol of Poland 27-25. 21-17 and No. 18 Nicolas Calgrosso/Ian Mehamed of Argentina 21-12, 21-17. Dalhausser/Lucena earn a bye and will play in round 2 at 2 p.m.
No. 1 Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson of the U.S., who are likely to qualify second for the U.S. Olympic contingent, also won their pool 3-0, breezing through both matches in two sets against No. 16 Thomas Kunert/Christoph Dressler of Austria 21-14, 21-15 and No. 17 Michal Bryl/Kacper Kujawiak of Poland 21-18, 21-13. Gibb/Patterson also earned a bye and will play in round 2 at 1 p.m.
No. 4 Tri Bourne/John Hyden of the U.S., who need some exceptional results to overcome their 450-point Olympic qualification deficit to Gibb/Patterson, split their matches today. Bourne/Hyden beat No. 20 Watson/O’Dea of New Zealand 19-21, 21-13, 15-7, but dropped to 2-1 following a loss to No. 13 Guto/Saymon of Brazil 16-21, 21-17, 9-15. Bourne/Hyden will play No. 26 Felipe Redmann/Christian Humana-Paredes of Canada in round 1 of playoffs tomorrow at 9 am. Bourne/Hyden must finish at least fourth if they are to improve their chances of Olympic qualification.
No. 10 John Mayer/Ryan Doherty of the U.S. finished 2-1 in pool play, splitting their matches Thursday. Mayer/Doherty lost to No. 7 Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter of Canada 26-28, 21-13, 13-15 but triumphed over No. 26 Felipe Redmann/Christian Humana-Paredes of Canada 21-14, 21-12. Up next for Mayer/Doherty are No. 8 Esteban and Marco Grimalt of Chile in round 1 of playoffs at 9 m.
No. 19 Trevor and Taylor Crabb of the U.S. won their pool 3-0 coming out of the qualifier. The Crabbs surprised both No. 3 Chaim Schalk/Ben Saxton of Canada 23-21, 21-19 and No. 14 Cole Durant/Bo Soderberg of Australia 21-15, 13-21, 15-13. Taylor and Trevor Crabb have earned a first-round bye and play at 2 p.m. in round 2.
No. 27 Derek Olson/Jeremy Casebeer of the U.S. finished 1-2 in pool but scored enough points to advance. Olson/Casebeer prevailed over Rihards Finsters/Edgars Tocs of Latvia 21-18, 22-20, but were unable to defeat No. 11 Sam Pedlow/Grant O’Gorman of Canada 21-16, 16-21, 11-15. Olson/Casebeer advance to play No. 21 Tim Holler/Bennet Poniewaz of Germany at 10 a.m.
No. 28 Todd Rogers and Robbie Page of the U.S. finished pool play 0-3 and did not advance. Their matches today were against the German duos of Jonathan Erdman/Kay Matysik of Germany (15-21, 17-21) and No. 12 Bennet Poniewaz/Alexander Walkenhorst (14-21, 20-22).
Of the Olympic contenders, Gibb/Patterson have the clearest path. No. 2 Gibb/Patterson are projected to meet No. 20 O’Dea/Watson of New Zealand, No. 8 Grimalt brothers of Chile (who face a challenging task getting by Mayer/Doherty of the U.S.), and a potential semifinal match-up with Bourne/Hyden with huge Olympic implications.
No. 4 Bourne/Hyden shouldn’t have much trouble with No. 26 Redmann/Humana-Paredes of Canada, but must get by a fiery No. 6 Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico, and an under-seeded No. 13 Gustavo Carvalhaes/Saymon Barbosa of Brazil to get to Gibb/Patterson.
Each of the women’s teams played one match to complete pool play. A day after qualifying for Rio, top-seeded Kerri Walsh-Jennings/April Ross swept qualifiers No. 17 Teresa Mersmann/Isabel Schneider of Germany 21-16, 21-18. Walsh-Jennings/Ross earned a bye into round 2 and will play at 4 p.m.
No. 3 Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat of the U.S. finished pool 2-1; their only match Thursday was a walkover from No. 14 Fan Wang/Yuan Yue of China due to injury. Fendrick/Sweat will meet No. 17 Kim Behrens/Anni Schumacher of Germany in round 1 at noon.
No. 9 Emily Day/Jennifer Kessy of the U.S. finished 1-2 in pool play after losing a three-set match to No. 8 Fernanda Alves/Josimarie Alves of Brazil 20-22, 21-19, 7-15. Day/Kessy will meet up with countrywomen No. 20 Lane Carico/Summer Ross in round 1 at noon. Day/Kessy must finish at least fifth in order to cut into Fendrick/Sweat’s 430-point Olympic qualifying lead.
No. 20 Lane Carico/Summer Ross of the U.S. completed pool play at 1-2 with a loss to No. 29 Kolocova/Kvapilova of Czechoslovakia 21-23, 21-17, 11-15. They will meet Day/Kessy at noon in round 1 of playoffs.
No. 21 Kim DiCello/Kendra VanZwieten of the U.S. have a 1-2 pool play record after straight set victory win over No. 28 Ester Ribera/Amaranta Navarro of Spain 21-19, 21-18. DiCello/VanZwieten will face off against No. 18 Takemi Nishibori/Sayaka Mizoe of Japan in round 1 at noon.
No. 27 Irene Hester Pollock/Caitlin Ledoux of the U.S. also finished 1-2, concluding with a three-set loss to USC alumni No. 22 Alex Jupiter/Laura Longuet of France by a score of 19-21, 21-14, 13-15. Pollock/Ledoux will advance to round 1 for a meeting against No. 17 Mersmann/Schneider of Germany at noon.
Although the U.S. placed more teams in the single elimination draw, all six are on the same side of the bracket so only one U.S. team can advance to the finals. Of the Olympic contenders, Kessy/Day have a much more difficult road, facing Carico/Ross and Jennings/Ross of the U.S. in the first two rounds. Fendrick/Sweat face seeds lower than them all the way to the semifinals.
The women’s main-draw brackets are available here:
The women’s final will be broadcast live on NBC on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern. The men’s final will be shown later, at 3 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN.