USA Volleyball’s response to COVID-19 and guidelines toward Return to Play.

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USA Volleyball’s response to COVID-19 and guidelines toward Return to Play.

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 6, 2021) – One week after winning their first FIVB World Tour title, Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil claimed another when they won the 2021 J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open on Sunday.

The duo beat Switzerland’s Anouk Verge-Depre/Joana Heidrich, 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) in the final, capping a perfect 6-0 week. On Wednesday, they clinched a nomination to the Tokyo Olympic Games when Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings exited the four-star Olympic qualifier without adding Olympic Ranking points, although the gold medal meant Claes/Sponcil would have earned a berth regardless.

“[Verge-Depre/Heidrich] are a great team, and I thought they played really well. We just took care of the ball when we needed to,” said Claes of the gold medal match. “I think they made a lot of good plays, but we didn’t really let it affect us. We just tried to focus on us and what we wanted to do on the court.”

“We’re on a good roll right now,” Sponcil added. “We had our first gold medal and qualified for the Olympics, but we tried to put that on the back burner and really focus on this tournament. And we came up with a win.”

Also clinching Olympic nominations in Ostrava were Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb and Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena.

In addition to Claes/Sponcil, four other American pairs reached the knockout stages in Ostrava. Alix Klineman/April Ross advanced to the quarterfinal before withdrawing from the tournament, and both Kelley Kolinske/Emily Stockman and Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb fell in the Round of 16. Kolinske/Stockman lost to Verge-Depre/Heidrich, and Bourne/Tr. Crabb to George Souto Maior Wanderley/Andre Loyola Stein of Brazil.

Ta. Crabb/Gibb lost in the Round of 24 to the same Brazilian team.

Meanwhile, Dalhausser/Lucena left the Ostrava four-star after pool play. It was the first time in 2021 that they didn’t finish in a tie for ninth or higher. Sweat/Walsh Jennings and Theo Brunner/Chaim Schalk each lost in the second round of qualification.

Although Olympic qualification is now over, there remains one four-star tournament on the FIVB schedule before the Tokyo Games begin: Gstaad, Switzerland, July 6-11. All eight teams that competed in Ostrava are tentatively scheduled to compete in Gstaad, although registration is not yet finalized.