COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Only one FIVB World Tour event remains and it’s the largest purse of the year, the World Tour Finals begins this week in Toronto, Canada.
The U.S. is sending three teams to the Swatch World Tour Finals, being played Sept. 13-18 with the winners of both genders taking home a $100,000 purse.
April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings are the lone American women’s team at the competition and are seeded first. Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena are seeded third, John Hyden and Tri Bourne are seeded 12th.
Downtown Toronto will serve as the backdrop just across the water where competition will be held, in the first FIVB World Tour event in Canada since 2011. The event features the top eight point leaders from the 2015-2016 World Tour, a maximum of two teams per country, plus four wild card selections. Noticeably absent from the contenders are the Olympic silver medalist team of Barbara Seixas/Agatha Bednarczuk (Brazil), who tied for 23rd in the final rankings and the men’s silver medalists of Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo (Italy), who finished 24th.
Though the field will be deep for both genders, the race for Olympic qualification played a factor in how teams finished in the final World Tour Rankings. Teams making a run at qualifying for the Olympics had the task of choosing when and where to play to ensure they remained within the Olympic Ranking cutoff before June 12, 2016, part of a two-year process to qualify that began January of 2015. Taking time off for rehab or rest was a calculated risk of possibly having another team or country pass you in the rankings if they continued to play.
In the case of the third-ranked American men’s team of Olympians Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson, the duo finished eighth overall but were third in the U.S. and didn’t make the World Tour Finals two-team country cutoff. Gibb and Patterson qualified for the Olympic Games following the Moscow Grand Slam and after that point played in one less tournament than Hyden/Bourne. In total during the 2015-16 season, which was Oct. 2015 – Sept. 2016, Hyden and Bourne played in 16 tournaments to Gibb and Patterson’s 12.
Olympic gold medalists Alison Cerutti/Pedro Schmidt finished 13th in the World Tour rankings, the duo satisfied their Olympic qualification by winning the 2015 FIVB Beach World Championships and Brazil named them as the first Olympic pair in September of 2015. After that, there was a noticeable slowdown of events attended. In total this season they played in seven, the least of all men’s teams playing in the Finals. They received one of the four wild cards and are seeded first at this week’s tournament.
Canada is the only country with the maximum four teams playing in the Finals, all four receiving wild card entries.
Eleven of the 12 men’s teams competing this week played at the Olympic Games, the lone team that qualified for the Finals but not the Olympics is USA’s Hyden/Bourne. For the women, 10 of the 12 Olympic teams are back, making their debut are Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude (Germany) and the wild card team from Canada that will provide at least one Olympian as a teammate, in Sarah Pavan or Heather Bansley.
JUNIOR BEACH TOUR WINTER SERIES
The 2016 Junior Beach Tour will begin its Premier Winter Series in September, with the first of the open events in Manhattan Beach, Calif., on Sept. 24. For age groups 12-18, boys and girls can participate in the beach volleyball tournaments that have historically been played through the month of December.
Sept. 13-18 FIVB World Tour Finals
Oct. 14-16 NORCECA St. Lucia
Nov. 25-27 NORCECA Trinidad & Tobago
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