COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The USA had two teams reach the podium Sunday afternoon in Xiamen, China.
John Hyden and Tri Bourne claimed silver after falling to Spain in the gold medal match and April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings earned bronze after defeating Germany.
The silver for Hyden/Bourne is the duo’s second medal of Olympic qualification, and their best finish as a team since winning the Berlin Grand Slam on June 22, 2014. For Ross/Walsh Jennings, it extends their medal streak to three straight tournaments and is their fifth podium finish in Olympic qualification.
All six American teams at the Xiamen Open finished in the Top 25. Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day will improve their Olympic point standings with their ninth-place finish. Three teams tied for 25th after being eliminated out of pool play: Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, Jennifer Fopma/Brittany Hochevar and Lane Carico/Summer Ross.
Following a 17th-place finish in Qatar one week ago, Hyden and Bourne’s silver medal greatly improves their points in the race for the 2016 Olympics. The pair was the only U.S. men’s team in Xiamen, and the timely podium appearance will boost them ahead of the seven events remaining in the ranking qualification time frame. Though dropping the finale to Spain’s Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira with a score of 14-21, 21-19, 15-12, Hyden and Bourne had a spectacular showing in their first week of the swing through China.
The American men swept their pool with victories over Norway, Poland and France. In round two, they topped Turkey 21-16, 22-20 and again with a sweep, knocked out Italy in the third round, 23-21, 21-18. The semifinal was their first match that went to an extra frame, over Mexico 21-18, 17-21, 15-12. The gold medal match saw Hyden/Bourne win the first set 21-14 but drop the following two 21-19, 15-12.
In their 10th event of the minimum 12 needed for Olympic qualification, Ross and Walsh Jennings sailed through pool play as the No. 1 seed, sweeping their matches against China, Russia and Slovakia. In the round of 16, they cleanly beat Argentina 21-17, 21-18. Despite dropping their first set in round three against Switzerland, 17-21, they rallied in the second, 21-17, and edged away in the third, 16-14. In their third-straight semifinals of 2016, the pair fell to Austria’s Stefanie Schwaiger/Barbara Hansel, 9-21, 21-18, 15-12. Hours later they rallied for bronze by beating Germans Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude, 24-22, 21-15.
“This morning was really crushing, I think we got aced almost ten times, the most of them were on me, but we still could have won against them,” Walsh said of their match against Austria. “If we focused on the fundamentals, then we should have won that match.”
The ninth-place finish for Kessy and Day is their second consecutive. The duo went 2-1 in pool play and despite China also being 2-1 in their pool, they took the bye directly to round two by having a higher point ratio. In the second round they were eliminated by Karla Borger/Britta Buthe of Germany, 17-21, 21-18, 16-14.
The FIVB World Tour continues in China at the Fuzhou Open, April 19-24. There are seven events remaining in the Olympic rankings qualification time period, which closes on June 13.
WEEK IN REVIEW
FIVB Xiamen Open
– John Hyden/Tri Bourne won silver, their second medal and best finish of 2015-16, and 14th Top 25 finish in Olympic qualification
– April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings won bronze, their fifth medal of Olympic qualification and third in 2016
– Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day placed ninth after being eliminated in round 2; marking the duo’s 10th T10 finish in Olympic qualification
– Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat tied for 25th, their 15th T25 finish in Olympic qualification and second-consecutive 25th-place finish
– Jennifer Fopma/Brittany Hochevar tied for 25th, their third T25 finish in 2016
– Lane Carico/Summer Ross tied for 25th, their fourth T25 finish in 2016, second-consecutive 25th-place finish
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