COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The FIVB World Tour continues with a two-week stint in China, beginning Tuesday in Xiamen. The AVP Tour’s first stop of the season heads to Louisiana and the NORCECA Continental Tour rolls into Costa Rica.
The FIVB World Tour and 2016 Olympic qualification continue this week with the dual-gender Xiamen Open in China. It’s the first of two stops in China and marks the countdown to the final eight events before the June 13 ranking deadline that will present countries their next opportunity to qualify a quota spot for the Games.
With Brazil already qualifying via the Beach World Championships and additional spots per gender as the host country, the rankings are the next chance for countries to gain two quota spots per gender into the Olympics. Should country’s not qualify via rankings, they move to their continental cup qualification and then a last chance for a second quota spot in July. In the current provisional Olympic rankings, the U.S. has three teams in both genders that are within the needed ranking cutoff, the Top 17th places when counting the two for Brazil already qualified.
|11||Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross||9||4,390||5||Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson||14||5,120|
|12||Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat||14||4,330||12||Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena||9||4,580|
|t15||Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day||15||3,920||t16||John Hyden/Tri Bourne||13||4,240|
To qualify via rankings, teams must have a minimum of 12 events with their partner, rank in the Top 17 (including Brazil’s qualified) AND be one of the top two for their respective country. Once a team has 12 events and continue to play on the World Tour, they keep their 12 best finishes. Of the top three U.S. teams in both genders, Phil Dalhuasser/Nick Lucena need three more events to reach the minimum, as do Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross. Though Dalhausser and Lucena didn’t play in the Qatar Open last week, their ranking improved from 13th to 12th. Teams must finish better than one of their previous top 12 finishes to improve their ranking, in the case of last week for example, Tri Bourne and John Hyden fell short of doing that and did not improve in the rankings.
The remainder of the World Tour will see teams from all countries try to best their top 12 finishes to improve their ranking. In the U.S., the quota spot earned for the Olympics will be awarded to the top two U.S. teams by the order in which they rank. The Olympic ranking, overall vs all countries and teams, essentially becomes the seeding for the opening round of the Olympics.
THE HUNT FOR IMPROVEMENT IN CHINA
Continuing on from their stop in Doha, Qatar last week, Hyden and Bourne are still seeking to improve their provisional Olympic rankings, this time as the only U.S. men’s team attending the Xiamen Open, April 12-17. The duo need to finish ninth or better to improve their point total.
In the women’s first event back from last playing in Vitoria, Brazil, March 15-20, there are five American women’s teams making the trip to Xiamen. The top-ranked U.S. team Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross look to repeat a medal performance from previous weeks, and a bronze in Fuzhou in 2015. With 14 and 15 events logged, respectively, Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat and Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day will try to better their provisional Olympic ranking points with at least 17th or better for Fendrick/Sweat and ninth or better for Kessy/Day.
Joining the top three U.S. women’s teams are Lane Carico/Summer Russ and Jennifer Fopma/Brittany Hochevar. Teams will stay in China as they make the short trip to Fuzhou, for the Open, April 19-24. Dalhausser and Lucena will make the trip, along with Mark Burik and Ian Satterfield.
USC DOMINATES COLLEGIATE CHALLENGE
Second-ranked USC took down No. 1 Pepperdine in a head-to-head dual on Saturday. The Trojans then returned to win the gold bracket of the pairs tournament on Sunday ahead of sweeping the bronze bracket. Seven schools competed at the annual Beach Collegiate Challenge in Hermosa Beach, Calif. Four of the schools ranked in the Top 10 of the AVCA Coaches rankings, led by No. 1 Pepperdine and 2015 champions and second-ranked USC. Rounding out the field were fifth-ranked UCLA and No. 7 Long Beach State, Concordia, Loyola Marymount and San Francisco.
As the season winds down, dual scores count toward the team’s overall record ahead of the first NCAA Championship. The Pac-12 was well represented by UCLA and USC, both went 2-0. Pepperdine, LMU and San Francisco all finished 1-1 while Concordia and Long Beach State suffered 0-2 records.
FOUR NORCECA MEDALS BUT NO GOLD
For the second consecutive week four U.S. teams made the podium on the NORCECA Continental Tour, but unfortunately the American’s didn’t bring home gold from La Paz, Mexico. After both men’s and women’s teams swept their respective pools, and all four logged wins against Mexico in the quarterfinals, it was once again a showdown between Americans in the semifinals.
Similar to last week, Stafford Slick and Billy Allen topped Trevor and Taylor Crabb to advance to the gold medal match, where they fell to Cuba. The Crabbs picked up their second-straight bronze, beating Canada in the process. Straying from last week’s outcome, Kelly Reeves and Ali McColloch picked up the semifinal win against Kimberly DiCello and Kendra Vanzwieten. In the final they lost to Canada in three for silver; DiCello/Vanzwieten beat Costa Rica for bronze.
AVP OPENS IN NEW ORLEANS
The 2016 AVP Tour opens this week in Kenner, La., for the New Orleans Open from April 14-17. The final round of matches will air live on NBC starting at 1:30 p.m. ET. The event is free and open to the public.
The main draw begins on Friday at 11 a.m. CT and will play under lights in the stadium court until around 10 p.m. Elimination rounds begin Saturday with the finals starting at 10 a.m. CT on Sunday.
WEEK IN REVIEW
FIVB Qatar Open
– Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson finished fifth, tying their third-best finish in qualification; their 13th T10 finish in Olympic qualification
– John Hyden/Tri Bourne finished 17th in their first event in over five weeks, their 13th Top 25 finish in Olympic qualification
– Eliminated in qualification were: Mark Burik/Ian Satterfield
NORCECA La PAz, Mexico
– Kimberly DiCello/Kendra Vanzwieten won gold, their third together as a team
– Billy Allen/Stafford Slick won silver, their second medal of 2016
– Kelly Reeves/Ali McColloch finished third, their second medal of 2016
– Trevor Crabb/Taylor Crabb finished with bronze, their third medal together
April 12-17 Xiamen Open
April 14-17 AVP New Orleans
April 19-24 Fuzhou Open
April 26-May 1 Fortaleza Open
May 3-8 Sochi Open
May 5-8 AVP Huntington Beach Open
May 10-15 Antalya Open
May 11-16 U21 World Championships
May 17-22 Cincinnati Open
May 20-22 NVL Port St. Lucie
May 24-29 Moscow Grand Slam
June 2-5 AVP Seattle
June 7-12 Hamburg Grand Slam
June 14-19 Olsztyn Grand Slam
June 16-19 AVP New York City
June 24-26 NVL San Antonio
June 28-July 3 Porec Major