COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The FIVB World Tour heads to the site of the 2016 Olympic Games with the Rio Grand Slam starting March 8.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross last played in Rio, at the 2015 FIVB Rio Open, and will make their 2016 debut at the Rio Grand Slam. Point leaders Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson join the ranks, Rio being their first tournament of the season as well.

In the new provisional Olympic rankings, John Hyden and Tri Bourne went up two spots to ninth, despite the duo only playing one match at the Maceio Open before having an injury withdrawal. The biggest jump for the U.S. was Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who previously were 18th and are now tied for 14th and just 140 points behind Hyden/Bourne and trail Gibb/Patterson by 520.

No big changes occurred for the American women in the rankings. Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat maintain their lead among the top three U.S. teams, at 12th. Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day are 15th, and cutting the point gap, currently behind their compatriots by 230 points. Ross/Walsh Jennings are 22nd overall after seven events and looking to add much needed points in their return at the Grand Slam.

For Open events, teams can earn 500 points for first place, 450 for second, 400 for third etc. In Grand Slams and Major Series’, the podium garners 800, 720 and 640 for a team, respectively. There are 10 men’s events and nine women’s events remaining in the FIVB rankings Olympic qualification. As it’s shaping up now, we will see the U.S. men’s teams jockey for a top two spot among Americans in the Top 17. For the women, they’ll continue to race to solidify themselves in the Top 17 and after meeting the 12 minimum event quota, keep their best performances for points to edge other American teams – as is the case with Fendrick/Sweat and Kessy/Day who have 12 and 13 events logged.

Provisional Olympic Rankings | As of Feb. 29, 2016
12 – Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat6 – Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson
15 – Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day9 – John Hyden/Tri Bourne
22 – April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings14 – Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena

Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena are a finalist for the Team USA Awards as the Team of the Month for the month of February. The pair won gold at the Maceio Open, their fourth gold in Olympic qualification and seventh medal overall.

The first Grand Slam of the 2016 calendar year will take place on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. USA’s men’s point leaders Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson join the list of six men’s teams, and contenders Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross debut their season among the six women’s teams.

Last week’s Maceio Open saw seven men’s and women’s Brazilian teams make it to the main draw and with the Rio Grand Slam qualification beginning on March 8, the U.S. could once again see stiff competition against the host country. Pool play matches start on March 9 and the medal matches take place on Sunday, March 13.

Registered to play at the Rio Grand Slam are: Theo Brunner/Sean Rosenthal, Ryan Doherty/John Mayer, Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson, John Hyden/Tri Bourne, Nick Lucena/Phil Dalhausser, Derek Olson/Jeremy Casebeer; Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, Brittany Hochevar/Jennifer Fopma, Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day, Lane Carico/Summer Ross, April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings.

Concluding the four-week swing in Brazil is the March 15-20 Vitoria Open.

The National Volleyball League >released its 2016 Tour schedule that includes six confirmed dates and two possible tournaments to still be added.

In addition to their professional beach volleyball tour, the NVL has posted tournaments for the RIZE Beach Volleyball Tour, their junior athlete events.

FIVB Maceio Open
– Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena won gold, their seventh medal in Olympic qualification
– Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day and Theo Brunner/Sean Rosenthal tied for 17th, respectively
– John Hyden/Tri Bourne finished in 17th after injury withdrawal forced elimination in the first round
– Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat and Lane Carico/Summer Ross tied for 25th, respectively
– Eliminated in qualification were: Derek Olson/Jeremy Casebeer; Kendra Vanzwieten/Kimberly DiCello; Jennifer Fopma/Brittany Hochevar; Caitlin Ledoux/Irene Pollock


March 8-13 Rio Grand Slam
March 15-20 Vitoria Open
April 4-8 Doha Open (Men only)
April 12-17 Xiamen Open
April 19-24 Fuzhou Open
April 26-May 1 Fortaleza Open

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