Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat’s run to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics remains on track as the Americans secured a pair of important wins on Thursday to win their pool in the third FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 4-star event at the Cancun Hub and advance directly to the Round of 16.
The 42-year-old Walsh Jennings and the 35-year-old Sweat ended up at the top of Pool B after they defeated Argentina’s Ana Gallay/Fernanda Pereyra 2-0 (21-14, 21-15) and upset reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada also in two sets (21-18, 21-16).
“Brooke is just so steady,” three-time Olympic champion Walsh Jennings reflected. “She’s the steadiest player on the tour and I love playing with her. I think we played some really good team defence, which was set up by very good serving. It’s the first time we win the pool this year and we got to celebrate every victory.”
Walsh Jennings and Sweat currently have 6,960 points and it’s very likely that they will be in the top 15 of the Olympic rankings on June 13. They still need, however, to be one of the top two American teams on the list, meaning they need to remain ahead of Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, who have 6,800.
“We want to qualify, we want to leave Cancun with a lot of points,” the American veteran said. “But it’s step by step, we got to keep doing it. The qualification period is coming to its end and now it only depends on us. We have to play with a lot of heart and be steady and play together and we’ll be fine.”
Claes and Sponcil also won their pool in Cancun after a pair of wins on Thursday. First, they prevailed against fellow Americans Kelley Kolinske and Emily Stockman 2-0 (21-14, 22-20). In the afternoon, they downed Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa, the winners of the second tournament in Mexico, with another two-set (22-20, 21-11) triumph.
Also winning their pools in Cancun on Thursday were Australia’s Taliqua Clancy/Mariafe Artacho del Solar, Brazil’s Talita Antunes/Taiana Lima, the Netherlands' Marleen van Iersel/Pleun Ypma and Sanne Keizer/Madelein Meppelink, Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova/Svetlana Kholomina and the Czech Republic’s Marketa Slukova/Barbora Hermannova.
Pool play will be completed for the women on Friday with the matches between the teams that lost their opening main draw games in the morning. The elimination round starts in the afternoon and matches for both the Round of 24 and the Round of 16 are scheduled.
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Cancun Hub - 3rd event
Cancun Hub - 3rd event - Match schedule
Provisional Olympic ranking - Men
Provisional Olympic ranking - Women
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour