COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – American beach teams swept gold at the Fuzhou Open in China, improving their positioning in Olympic qualification.
Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena earned their fifth gold of the qualifying season and eighth medal overall since becoming a team. April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings picked up their second gold and sixth medal. Six teams total finished in the top 10.
The victory for Dalhausser and Lucena should place the pair at fifth in provisional Olympic rankings, up from 13th on April 18. The duo would only be behind Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson by 40 points, who are the top ranked U.S. men’s team, at third, with one gold and one silver in qualification.
Ross and Walsh Jennings are projected to move into fourth place in the rankings, up from their current spot at eighth.
Both American teams garnering gold this weekend went 7-0 on the way to the title. Ross and Walsh Jennings, seeded first, extend their podium streak to four straight in 2016, improving on their bronze from Xiamen last week. Dalhausser and Lucena, also seeded first, lost just two sets the entire week.
After sweeping their pool, Dalhausser and Lucena topped Italy in the second round before sweeping Mexico in round three. In the semifinals against Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins, the pair came out on top 21-19, 21-13 to earn a spot in the gold medal match. There they beat another Italy pair, Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo, 21-18, 21-15.
For Ross and Walsh Jennings, the duo faced off against Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day in the second round. Eliminating their compatriots, 21-10, 21-17, they once again faced another American team in round three. Against Lane Carico and Summer Ross, the pair won 21-16, 24-22.
Once in the semifinal, the pair swept Switzerland’s Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre 22-20, 21-12. In the rematch of last week’s bronze medal match in Xiamen, China, Ross and Walsh Jennings handily beat Germany’s Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude 21-15, 21-15 for gold.
“We started this tournament really rough, it took us a long time to get into a rhythm and I’m just so proud how we hung together and we battled and we got better every match. This is the best we played I think in two weeks, so it was awesome,” said Ross.
Carico/Ross finished fifth after being eliminated in the third round, their top finish of 2016. Also finishing fifth were John Hyden and Tri Bourne, who rank third among U.S. men’s teams in provisional Olympic rankings. The pair advanced to the third round where they were eliminated by Spain’s Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira, 23-21, 21-18.
Two teams battling it out for the second USA quota spot, Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat and Kessy/Day, both tied for ninth. Fendrick and Sweat lost to Finland’s Riikka Lehtonen/Taru Lahti in round two, 13-21, 21-18, 15-12, for their best finish since March 11.
WEEK IN REVIEW
FIVB Fuzhou Open
– Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena won their fifth gold of Olympic qualification and eighth medal in same time frame
– April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings won their second gold of Olympic qualification and sixth total in same time frame
– John Hyden/Tri Bourne finished fifth, their 10th Top 10 finish in Olympic qualification
– Lane Carico/Summer Ross finished fifth, their top finish in 2016
– Jennifer Kessy/Emily Day placed ninth after being eliminated in round 2; marking the duo’s 11th T10 finish in Olympic qualification, third consecutive 9th-place finish
– Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat placed ninth, their ninth T10 finish in Olympic qualification
– Jennifer Fopma/Brittany Hochevar and Ian Satterfield/Mark Burik eliminated in the second round of qualification
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