Sweat and Ross played in their first tournament together as a team and did not disappoint with their run in the Sunshine State. The pair were 3-0 in pool play and swept their opponents in the second and third rounds before dropping their final two matches to the Czech Republic on Saturday and Germany on Sunday.
No. 3 seed Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude topped Sweat and Ross 21-14, 21-14 in the women’s bronze medal match. USA trailed for the entire first set but turned around in the second to make it a closer matchup. Back-to-back points from Sweat, including an ace, made it a 10-9 U.S. deficit, but the Germans pulled away with the match and the bronze medal after that, 21-14.
“I’m proud of how we fought this tournament,” Sweat said. “We’ll take fourth place. We really wanted to get on the podium. We can put in the work and be there next time.”
“It’s a great start. I can’t wait for practice on Tuesday so we can get better,” added Ross.
— USAV Beach (@USAVBeach) February 12, 2017
In the women’s semifinal, Sweat and Ross fell to Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes of Brazil, 21-16, 21-16. USA led in the early goings, but following a 6-all tie, Brazil kicked into high gear to go up 10-6. From there, Sweat and Ross trailed the remainder of the frame.
“They’re good,” Sweat said of the Brazilians. “They can hit any shot in the book, from any point on the court. It’s hard to defend that.”
In the second set, the Americans were down an early 5-2 and threatened a comeback at 13-9, but were unable to gain ground quick enough. An attack from Ross at 18-15 was the closest they’d get at the end, dropping the frame at 21-16. The defeat was their first loss of the tournament and of their newly minted partnership.
During the week, USA had three of five teams enter the main draw out of the qualification tournament. In pool play, three men’s teams and two women’s teams swept their pool for direct passage into the second round. With only two of the 12 teams on site with prior experience together, it was a good season starter for the U.S. to have eight teams finish in the Top 10.
Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena earned their 13th team FIVB medal, once again hitting the brick wall of Brazil in the path of their gold aspirations. Brazil’s women also took down No. 1 April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings, who for just the third time since March 2016 did not medal, instead tying for fifth.
On the men’s side, John Hyden/Ryan Doherty exceeded expectations, at fourth-place, for a team that banned together the weekend before the tournament. The partnerships of Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb (t5th) and Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson (t9th) has rejuvenated USA’s depth for medal potential; not to mention the return of Sean Rosenthal, who is now playing alongside Trevor Crabb.
Lauren Fendrick and Sara Hughes tied for ninth. The question on the sand remains what will happen once the collegiate season ends and if Hughes will then play with long-time USC partner Kelly Claes, causing another shuffle among the U.S. women’s athletes. Following Fort Lauderdale, Hughes and Claes return to the classroom for their senior season at USC.
|Fort Lauderdale 5-Star Roster|
|April Ross||Kerri Walsh Jennings||Marcio Sicoli||Main Draw|
|Brooke Sweat||Summer Ross||Ty Tramblie||Main Draw|
|Lauren Fendrick||Sara Hughes||Main Draw|
|Lane Carico||Irene Pollock||Jason Lochead||Main Draw Wild Card|
|Brittany Hochevar||Emily Day||Hector Gutierrez||Qualifier|
|Kelly Claes||Kelly Reeves||Qualifier Wild Card|
|Emily Stockman||Kimberly DiCello||Qualifier|
|Phil Dalhausser||Nick Lucena||Paul Baxter||Main Draw|
|John Hyden||Ryan Doherty*||Jon Daze||Main Draw|
|Jake Gibb||Taylor Crabb||Main Draw|
|Casey Patterson||Theo Brunner||Rich Lambourne||Main Draw Wild Card|
|Stafford Slick||Billy Allen||Qualifier|
|Sean Rosenthal||Trevor Crabb||Jeff Alzina||Qualifier Wild Card|
|Phil Noyes||USAV Video Scout|
|Corinne Calabro||USAV Communications|
*Ryan Doherty will play in place of Tri Bourne for this event