Outside Hitter, 6-9
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 14, 2021) – After a one-year delay of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, what is another 100 days?
USA Volleyball’s national teams will be more than ready to compete when the Games begin on July 23 this year. We are still waiting to find out which beach teams will qualify and which players will comprise the indoor teams.
It is important to note that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee approves the final roster for the Olympic Games.
In case you have forgotten where we left off in 2020, here is your 100 days out preview:
Women’s National Team (by B.J. Hoeptner Evans)
The U.S. Women enter the 2021 season ranked second in the world just behind China and just in front of Brazil. after the U.S. Women took gold at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) and silver at the World Cup. Fewer than 100 points separate the three teams and also fourth-place Italy.
After the world shut down for the summer of 2020, most players played for overseas leagues and/or Athletes Unlimited in the United States during the fall and winter of 2020-21.
Six players who took bronze in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro remain with the team: outside hitters Kim Hill, Jordan Larson and Kelsey Robinson, middle blockers Foluke Akinradewo Gunderson and Rachael Adams and opposite Karsta Lowe. Larson and Gunderson also have silver medals from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
USA Volleyball’s indoor training center in Anaheim, Calif., will also be filled with young players who are anxious to travel to Tokyo.
Look for Head Coach Karch Kiraly to nominate his Olympic roster during or shortly after the 2021 Volleyball Nations League being held May 25-June 25 in a competition bubble in Italy. Kiraly is hoping the combination of experience and youth will be a winning combination in Japan.
Men’s National Team (by Stephen Munson)
In 2016, the U.S. Men’s National Team had eight players in Rio de Janeiro competing in their first Olympic Games. Even with such a young team, the U.S. Men fought back from an 0-2 pool play start and a crushing semifinal loss to Italy to earn the bronze medal.
While proud of its medal, the team left Rio with a feeling of unfinished business.
Heading into the Tokyo Olympic Games, the U.S. Men, ranked No. 3 in the world behind Brazil and Poland, could have as many as nine Olympic veterans on the roster. Opposite Matt Anderson and middle blocker David Smith have each competed in two Games. Looking for their second Olympic berth would be setters Micah Christenson and Kawika Shoji, outside hitters Thomas Jaeschke, Aaron Russell and Taylor Sander, middle blocker Max Holt and libero Erik Shoji.
Opposite Ben Patch, outside hitters T.J. DeFalco, Garret Muagututia and Brenden Sander and middle blockers Taylor Averill, Jeff Jendryk and Mitch Stahl are among those hoping to make their first Olympic roster.
Head Coach John Speraw is looking to nominate his Olympic roster during the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, which will be held May 28-June 23 in a competition bubble in Italy.
Last time the team was in Tokyo was in October 2019 for the FIVB World Cup. It finished that tournament with a 9-2 record and a bronze medal. It also took bronze at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League and the World Championship. It won silver at the 2019 VNL.
Speraw will be looking for his team to take advantage of all its experience to reach another podium in Tokyo.
Beach National Team (by Kyle Scholzen)
USA Volleyball anticipates having four beach teams compete in Tokyo, but only one has clinched a nomination so far. At 9,080 provisional Olympic ranking points, April Ross and Alix Klineman mathematically cannot be caught by another USAV duo.
This will be Ross’ third Olympic Games, and she’ll be looking for a third medal after earning silver in 2012 and bronze in 2016. Klineman will experience her first Olympics after switching from indoor volleyball to beach full time in 2017.
Three other women’s teams are competing for the second U.S. berth. Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat are currently in second place, hoping to send Walsh Jennings to her sixth Olympics. Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil are third, and Kelley Kolinske and Emily Stockman are close behind in fourth. Should they qualify, either Claes/Sponcil or Kolinske/Stockman would be making their Olympic debuts.
On the men’s side, Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb are eighth overall in the provisional Olympic rankings and first among USAV teams. They have not mathematically clinched the top American spot but hold a 480-point advantage over the second American team, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. Only 40 points separate that team from Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, so the men’s race for Tokyo could go down to the wire.
Five more tournaments remain for Olympic qualification on the FIVB World Tour. Three separate events will take place in Cancun, Mexico, from April 16-May 2. Sochi, Russia will host another May 26-30. Qualification will conclude June 2-6 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
The beach volleyball tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will run Saturday, July 24-Saturday, August 7, 2021. All matches will take place along the shores of Tokyo Bay at Shiokaze Park.