ROSARITO, Mexico (March 24, 2022) – One day after the toughest qualifier in international volleyball, perhaps the toughest main draw began at the Beach Pro Tour’s Rosarito Elite 16 in Rosarito, Mexico, and three American squads found themselves undefeated in pool play.
In all, four U.S. Beach National Team pairs – Kelly (Claes) Cheng/Betsi Flint, Emily Day/April Ross, Kelley Kolinske/Sara Hughes and Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb – picked up wins Thursday, and Cheng/Flint won twice to clinch an advancing spot out of pool C. They opened the morning with a sweep of Tokyo 2020 bronze medalists Anouk Verge-Depre/Joana Heidrich and downed Brazilians Fernanda Alves/Maria Elisa Mendes Ticon Antonelli, 2-0, to clinch the advancing position.
Cheng/Flint, who played their first matches of the 2022 season Thursday, will face Brazil’s Talita Da Rocha Antunes/Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva Friday, March 25, at 2 p.m. Pacific for the pool title.
“It’s been fun to get out and compete and fight together because that’s a totally different energy than practice or trying to make our own scrimmages,” Cheng said. “It was awesome to get out with Betsi and fight together.”
Day/April and Kolinske/Hughes, meanwhile, both won their lone matches of the day. Day/April rallied to beat Nina Brunner/Tanja Huberli of Switzerland, 2-1, while Hughes/Kolinske swept fellow Americans Terese Cannon/Sarah Sponcil. All four teams are in pool B and will end the round robin with two matches Friday.
“We train with all the USA teams, so we know each other pretty well,” Kolinske said about the three-U.S. team pool. “It is interesting flying all over the world and playing teams that are right in our backyard, but whoever we match up against, we’re in it to win it. It doesn’t matter who it is.”
In the men’s pool B, Bourne/Crabb sit at 1-1 after a pair of matches Thursday. They opened play with a loss to reigning Olympic gold medalists Anders Mol/Christian Sorum of Norway but bounced back for a two-set win against Samuele Cottafava/Paolo Nicolai of Italy.
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Also competing Thursday, Chaim Schalk/Theo Brunner opened pool C with a two-set loss to Italy’s Adrian Ignacio Carambula Raurich/Enrico Rossi.
The Rosarito Elite 16 is the first Elite 16 tournament of the inaugural Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour. The top 12 teams in the world of each gender earned berths directly to the main draw, while teams 13-28 competed for four main draw berths. Both Kolinske/Hughes and Schalk/Brunner successfully advanced through March 23’s qualifier.
Play resumes at 9 a.m. Pacific Friday, March 24. Day/April will face Hughes/Kolinske, while Cannon/Sponcil play Brunner/Huberli.