Today was main draw day two in Long Beach. It's kind of a weird schedule, while there were still two women's rounds and still only one for the men. At the end of today, half of the women's teams will be eliminated, while the men still won't be finished with pool play. Seems like every one of these tournaments has a different schedule.
Centre court started off with a marquee matchup.
Summer Ross/Emily Day (USA) vs. Taiana Lima/Talita Da Rocha Antunes (BRA)
The Brazilian team started off with two straight points. The first was a minor offensive breakdown on the American side, and it resulted in Day telling Ross to call the shot sooner. Didn't help on the second point (though she did), as Talita got the block at the net. Ross got the equaliser with an ace to make it 2-all, but on the 3-2 rally Lima made a really underratedly terrific play, digging the heater from Day and finding the sand herself on an angle shot. Nothing to it, and it's something good teams need to have in their arsenal, but she made it look way easier than it is.
The Americans came level again shortly after the first side change, but a great serve from Talita really disrupted them on 6-5, leading to 7-5. They were lucky to return a free-ball, and Talita didn't miss her hit on the other side. You could hear Day and Ross, if indistinctly discussing their strategy and performance pretty openly as the match wore on. You want to have good communication with your partner, but I wonder if there might be such a thing as too much of it (I don't think Taiana speaks English, but Talita does, and passably). The South Americans took a three-point advantage for the first time on 9-7 and led 12-9 at the technical timeout. They were siding out fabulously well. Basically if they got a halfway decent pass (which they almost always did), it was a sideout.
13-11 after the technical timeout was the best rally of the first set, with diving digs and hits on 2 aplenty. It was a frenzy, eventually put away by Talita with a cross-court roll shot. She extended her side to a four-point lead at 15-11 with a stuff block against Day and then 16-11 with an ace. The Americans called time there to regroup. Both teams played nice defence on the first few volleys of the 16-11 rally, but Day's terminating hit landed long for 17-11 in Brazil's favour. 17-11 was another fairly long raly, one that continued Talita's run on serve as her partner found the sand with her own cross-court roll shot. Ross finally got the Americans the sideout on 19-12, but that was far too late to mean much of anything. Brazil sealed the first set on their second attempt at it from reception, for a 21-15 final score.
Seven sideouts began set two. Lima got the first service winner at 5-3, putting away a long rally where both teams had digs and shots to end it (two very good defensive tandems here, come to think of it). Unlike in set 1, the Americans put a stop to the Brazilians' advantage before it got out of hand, coming tied again at the second side change, 7-all. When they then took the lead, at 9-7, the Brazilians took their first timeout of the set (and match, as it happened). The score was as tight as it could be at the technical timeout, just a single point separating the teams.
More great rallies ensued in the second 'half' of the set, the results of which were simply sideout after sideout for a while. Lima found the left corner for a kill to make it 13-12, which caused somebody in the crowd to audibly express their doubt to the line judge. Ross and Day didn't seem to have a problem with the call, though, and just kept playing. They led 15-13 at the side change. And if indeed that line judge was generous earlier in the set, he was equally so on Ross' hit at 15-14. It was ruled to have just caught the line to keep the sideout string rolling. Close call. From 17-15, the Brazilian team scored three straight to surge into the lead at the side change, prompting the Americans to call time. A service ace for Talita brought her side to match point on 20-18, and Ross hit wide to end it.
Lauren Fendrick/Brittany Hochevar (USA) vs. Nadine Zumkehr/Joana Heidrich (SUI)
This is a rematch from the Gstaad Grand Slam, a match that I thought was well-played by both sides. The Americans won that one in two tight sets.
And the Americans started off strong in this match as well, getting an early service run from Hochevar to take the lead. The Swiss could have sided out a few different times on the 3-1 rally, but it ended with another service point for the Americans as Heidrich hit long. Zumkehr hit straight into Fendrick's block on 4-1, and the Swiss team called time. They finally got the sideout there, but the resultant sideout 'pattern' didn't last long. The Americans added more service points, including another stuff block from Fendrick, to run from 6-3 out to 10-3. The Swiss surely would have liked to call time somewhere in there -- if they hadn't already.
The Americans took five of the next seven between side change two and the technical timeout, to lead by a very comfortable 15-6. It was an even exchange through to 19-10, when Heidrich was whistled for an overreach. That set up set point on 20-10, and Hochevar finished it off with a service ace for a goofy 21-10 final.
Zumkehr and Heidrich put their set 1 collapse behind them in a hurry, taking four of the first five to begin set 2. An ace off the hand of Hochevar, though, drew the Americans back within a point at the side change. Seven sideouts followed, and then on the first rally after the third side change Zumkehr got the kill to extend the Swiss team back to a 3-point lead. She added another on the next rally for a 10-6 lead, and the Americans called time.
All four players were surely thankful for the breather, as the 10-6 rally was very long, the ball passing over the net at least a half a dozen times. Hochevar finally found the sand for the kill and sideout. Fendrick followed that up by gobbling up an overpass, drawing the Americans back within two. Another kill for Hochevar made it 10-9, and then it was time for the Swiss to call timeout. But that didn't slow Hochevar's roll, as she added another to tie the set on 10's, and then an ace gave the Americans the lead at 11-10 and the technical timeout.
Hochevar added yet one more to bring the Americans to a 12-10 lead, before Zumkehr finally got the sideout. Fendrick managed to beat Heidrich's block for 13-11, and then she unleashed a great heater of a serve to disrupt the Swiss offence. That eventually led to a kill for her partner and a three-point American advantage. Zumkehr peeled one back with a service ace. On 16-15, Fendrick got a kill with a 'pushing' shot of misdirection. One of those where it looked like a set, up until it wasn't. It got the Swiss out of position, but it looked like Heidrich should have been able to at least keep the rally going with a free ball. It fell in not a foot away from her. It was 18-17 at the side change, as the Swiss stayed close but did not remove "sideout to victory" from the list of possibilties for Fendrick and Hochevar. Fendrick all but sealed the match with a kill off an overpass to bring it to 19-17. She made it match point on 20-18 with a nice little roll shot to the right corner on the Swiss side, just sneaking it in. The Americans had a chance to seal the match on serve, with Fendrick getting a good block touch and an up to keep the play going, but Hochevar's hit landed wide. Heidrich's serve on 20-19 drilled the net to end the match.
Nicholas Lucena/John Hyden (USA) vs. Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk (CAN)
There were some Canadian fans representing in this match. Saxton got some cheers for his block against Lucena at the net. But it was the Americans who held the early lead, up by two through to the second side change at 8-6. Schalk came up with a great dig on the 8-7 rally to lead to a hitting attempt to tie the match, but he went for an easily-dug roll shot. Little matter -- Hyden's return from the other side failed to clear the net, and we reached 8-all anyway. A hitting miscue from Saxton put the Americans back up by 2 on 10-8, and a service ace for Lucena made it 12-9 at the technical timeout.
Sideout after sideout it went until Saxton's serve on 18-16. On that rally, the Americans were called for four hits. The up ref evidently ruled there was a block touch that the Americans didn't think was there. That made it 18-17 at the side switch. And a little gamesmanship from the Americans followed, as they waited until both teams were in position for the 18-17 serve, just moments before the up ref would have signalled for it, and then called time.
The Canadian cheers got a little louder when Schalk got the equaliser on 18-all, and then a lot louder for Saxton as his ace put the Canadians on top for the first time in the set on 19-18. They reached set point on 20-19 and put it away right there, a nice bit of transition play for Schalk to get the kill.
Set 2 was an even exchange through the first ten points. At that point, Saxton and Schalk went out ahead with three on serve. Saxton got a kill off Hyden's hat and out, and followed it up with a service ace to make it 8-5. The Americans called time there. Saxton added another after the timeout with a block to bring us to the side change at 9-5. The Americans sided out there at 9-6, and went to work a little. A good transition play from Lucena led to an out-of-system kill, as the diving Canadians did keep the ball up but couldn't get it over the net. On 10-8, Saxton was whistled for a net fault, bringing the Americans within a point. And that was the margin at the second set technical timeout, Saxton and Schalk leading by a scant 11-10.
A double-hit called on Saxton's overhand set (he'd been doing them all match, a bit risky) made it 12-all. Then Lucena came up with a terrific block to put the Americans on top for the first time at 13-12. Another stretch of sideouts followed, and the Americans took the crucial next service point with a kill from Lucena to make it 17-15. Both sides continued to sideout skilfully from there, and the Americans reached set point on 20-18. Hyden put it away right there on serve to set up the race to 15.
Canada jumped out ahead early in the decider, with the ace from Saxton giving them the earliest possible 2-point lead. Saxton added another, getting to swing against Hyden as a blocker (even though he's taller, it's sub-optimal for this duo), making it 3-0. Hyden got the sideout there, but it was still 4-1 at the side change. The Americans pulled a point back in the second slate of five, still trailing at the second side change, but only by 6-4. 7-5 was a clownshoes rally, as both sides looked out of system. At the end of it, I'm not sure Schalk's hit found the block rather than the top of the tape before going out, but it was ruled off the block for a point in their favour. The Americans called time there, down 8-5.
After siding out, Lucena got one of those terrible little let-serve aces to come back within a point at side change number three. Hyden gave the point right back by hitting into the net to make it 10-7. That touched off a big run for the Canadians at just the right time, as a block from Saxton brought us to match point on 14-7, and then Schalk's kill sealed an 7-point run for the Canadians to win 15-7 in the third.
Ruslans Sorokins/Toms Smedins (LAT) vs. Casey Patterson/Jake Gibb (USA)
I figured this match to be a bit more of a challenge for the top-seeded Americans than yesterday's tilt with an unknown (to me at least) Italian duo. The match started off sideout after sideout. On Sorokins' kill for the sideout at 3-2, Patterson thought he should have been called for a net touch. The up ref made no such call, and no amount of asking from Casey made the difference. A block for Gibb on 3-all was the first service point, allowing the Americans to serve with the lead. He came up with another after the side change to make it 5-3, prompting a fairly early timeout from the Latvian team. The lead extended to 6-3 before Sorokins got the Latvians their next sideout. Smedins' serve on 6-4 was an overpass, one that Sorokins didn't let go wanting. That brought the Latvians back within a point on 6-5. On 9-7, Gibb got an overpass from the other side himself, and though it took a few tries, the Americans got the service point back to again go up by three. And then they gave it right back again. On reception at 11-9, Gibb fell short in a net joust with Sorokins to make it just a one-point set at the technical timeout.
After the sideout, Gibb got the block on 12-10 to again put the Americans up three. Then Sorokins found the sand for an ace on 13-12, and Patterson got a kill on serve at 14-12...you could say this match preferred to stay in the 1-3 point range. From 15-13, an unforced hitting error by Gibb and an overpass leading to a net point by Latvia brought the match even. The Americans called time there, but Smedins' next kill gave Latvia the 16-15 lead. It went sideout after sideout from there until the Americans' serve on 19-all. Patterson got two big kills on serve to seal the tight first set for the American team on 21-19.
The second set began with sideout after sideout, until the Americans got three on the bump to take the 8-5 lead. That prompted the Latvians to call time. On the first rally back, Smedins was somehow called for a double-touch on a bump set, putting the Americans up four at the side change. The Latvians got their sideout there, but had trouble coming any closer. A snazzy play from Gibb sending it over on 2 after a nice dig from his partner made it 12-7 in the Americans' favour. Gibb's serve on 12-7 was ruled out, and he was decidedly unhappy about that. He grumbled at the up ref to "Look at it!" but he didn't. Nonetheless, the Americans still led 13-8 at the technical timeout.
At 15-10, the Latvians tried to get sneaky, with Sorokins looking to send it over on 2, but Gibb wasn't at all fooled. His block had the perfect timing, and he roared with the rejection and the six-point lead. The Latvians clawed one back, but too much damage was already done. Gibb served for the match at 20-15 (humourously making a shot call of "Line-gle!" for Patterson). Sorokins got the sideout there, and then added two on serve to make things interesting for a moment, but his serve on 20-18 flew long to give the match to the Americans.
I had a little personal business to attend to in the early evening, so this was it as far as matches I was able to see first-hand. I caught the tailend of Summer Ross and Emily Day's relative thumping of the Nystrom sisters out of Finland, but that was it as far as the first women's knockout round went. Should be able to see more tomorrow.
Full day two results
Women - end of pool play
#1 April Ross/Jennifer Kessy (USA) d. #16 Emilia Nystrom/Erika Nystrom (FIN) via injury forfeit. But, as metioned they were fine for their knockout match, so this seems a touch shady.
#17 Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré (SUI) d. #32 Aleksandra Wolak/Agnieszka Pregowska (POL) (21-5, 21-17)
Final pool standings:
1. Forrer/Vergé-Dépré 3-0
2. Ross/Kessy 2-1
3. Nystrom/Nystrom 1-2
4. Wolak/Pregowska 0-3
#2 Taiana Lima/Talita Da Rocha Antunes (BRA) d. #15 Summer Ross/Emily Day (USA) (21-15, 21-18), described above. Seems like they're over their bobble from worlds and are big medal favourites once again
#31 Melissa Humana-Paredes/Taylor Pischke (CAN) d. #18 Viktoria Orsi Toth/Marta Menegatti (ITA) (18-21, 21-16, 15-11)
Final pool standings:
1. Talita/Lima 3-0
2. Ross/Day 2-1
3. Humana-Paredes/Pischke 1-2 Even in a slightly diluted field, making it out of pool play is no mean feat. Congrats Melissa and Taylor!
4. Orsi Toth/Menegatti 0-3 I don't think Orsi Toth won a match when she partnered with Cicolari, either. Time for the old "it's not me, it's you" speech?
#3 Liliane Maestrini/Barbara Seixas De Freitas (BRA) d. #14 Victoria Bieneck/Julia Großner (GER) (24-22, 21-17)
#19 Barbara Hansel/Katharina Schützenhöfer (AUT) d. #30 Janne Kongshavn/Victoria Faye Kjølberg (NOR) (21-8, 21-9)
Final pool standings:
1. Lili/Seixas 3-0
2. Hansel/Schützenhöfer 2-1
3. Bieneck/Großner 1-2
4. Kongshavn/Kjølberg 0-3
#4 Maria Clara Salgado Rufino/Carolina Solberg Salgado (BRA) d. #13 Natalia Dubovcova/Dominika Nestarcova (SVK) (21-18, 12-21, 15-12)
#20 Jana Köhler/Anni Schumacher (GER) d. #29 Bibiana Candelas/Martha Revuelta (MEX) (21-15, 21-15)
Final pool standings:
1. Maria Clara/Carol 3-0
2. Dubovcova/Nestarcova 2-1
3. Köhler/Schumacher 1-2
4. Candelas/Revuelta 0-3
#5 Agatha Bednarczuk/Maria Antonelli (BRA) d. #12 Jennifer Fopma/Brooke Sweat (USA) (21-19, 29-27) I saw a bit of this match. I had to take a phone call when it began, and was away for about 5 minutes, which is a long time in a beach volleyball match. Came back and it was half gone, so I decided against trying to phony up a write-up. Maybe I still should have.
#21 Jamie Lynn Broder/Kristina Valjas (CAN) d. #28 Elisabeth Klopf/Valerie Teufl (AUT) (21-10, 21-14)
Final pool standings:
1. Agatha/Maria 3-0
2. Fopma/Sweat 2-1
3. Broder/Valjas 1-2
4. Klopf/Teufl 0-3
#6 Liliana Fernández Steiner/Elsa Baquerizo McMillan (ESP) d. #11 Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy (AUS) (16-21, 21-12, 15-11)
#22 Daniela Gioria/Laura Giombini (ITA) d. #27 Annett "Nettie" Davis/Whitney Pavlik (USA) (21-23, 21-17, 16-14)
Final pool standings:
1. Liliana/Baquerizo 2-1
2. Gioria/Giombini 2-1
3. Bawden/Clancy 1-2
4. Davis/Pavlik 1-2 Bit of a shame, because it really looks like they didn't play badly at all.
#10 Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova (CZE) d. #7 Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler (GER) (21-10, 21-13)
#23 Martina Bonnerová/Barbora Hermannová (CZE) d. #26 Maria Francisca Rivas Zapata/Camila Pazdirek Peteri (CHI)
Final pool standings:
1. Kolocova/Slukova 3-0
2. Holtwick/Semmler 2-1
3. Bonnerova/Hermannova 1-2
4. Rivas Zapata/Camila 0-3
#8 Lauren Fendrick/Brittany Hochevar (USA) d. #9 Nadine Zumkehr/Joana Heidrich (SUI) (21-10, 21-19), described above
#24 Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley (CAN) d. #25 Zara Dampney/Lucy Boulton (ENG) (21-17, 21-15)
Final pool standings:
1. Fendrick/Hochevar 3-0
2. Zumkehr/Heidrich 2-1
3. Pavan/Bansley 1-2
4. Dampney/Boulton 0-3
First knockout round
Holtwick/Semmler d. Humana-Paredes/Pischke (21-18, 21-15)
Fopma/Sweat d. Bonnerova/Hermannova (21-8, 21-11)
Ross/Kessy d. Bieneck/Großner (21-11, 14-21, 15-12)
Zumkehr/Heidrich d. Bawden/Clancy (21-13, 21-15)
Dubovcova/Nestarcova d. Broder/Valjas (21-14, 21-17)
Ross/Day d. Nystrom/Nystrom (21-10, 21-15)
Pavan/Bansley d. Gioria/Giombini (21-14, 13-21, 15-12)
Köhler/Schumacher d. Hansel/Schützenhöfer (21-17, 13-21, 15-11)
Men's pool play, second day
#1 Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson (USA) d. #17 Ruslans Sorokins/Toms Smedins (LAT) (21-19, 21-18), described above
#16 Robert Kufa/Jan Hadrava (CZE) d. #32 Andrea Tomatis/Alex Ranghieri (ITA) (21-17, 21-17)
#2 Pedro Solberg Salgado/Bruno Oscar Schmidt (BRA) d. #18 Iver Andreas Horrem/Geir Eithun (NOR) (21-17, 21-14)
#15 Philip Gabathuler/Jonas Weingart (SUI) d. #31 Peter Eglseer/Felix Koraimann (AUT) (19-21, 21-15, 15-12)
#3 Janis Smedins/Aleksandrs Samoilovs (LAT) d. #19 Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros (MEX) (21-15, 18-21, 15-10)
#14 Pablo Herrera Allepuz/Adrián Gavira Collado (ESP) d. #30 Stafford Slick/Casey Jennings (USA) (18-21, 21-18, 15-11)
#4 Sean Rosenthal/Phi Dalhausser (USA) d. #20 Hannes Brinkborg/Stefan Gunnarsson (SWE) (21-18, 21-19). Saw a little of this match getting ready for my aforementioned personal business. Another meh performance from the would-be best team in the world.
#13 Markus Böckermann/Mischa Urbatzka (GER) d. #29 Andreas Martin Sutter/Roman Sutter (SUI) (21-18, 21-18)
#5 Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (BRA) d. #28 Sam Pedlow/Grant O'Gorman (CAN) (24-26, 21-12, 16-14) Something's still not right with the erstwhile world champions. One wonders if it ever will come right.
#12 Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk (CAN) d. #21 Nick Lucena/John Hyden (USA) (21-19, 18-21, 15-7), described above
#6 Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo (ITA) d. #22 Maverick Hatch/Christian Redmann (CAN) (21-15, 21-17)
#11 Ryan Doherty/Todd Rogers (USA) d. #27 Gianluca Casadei/Paolo Ficosecco (ITA) (21-17, 21-15)
#7 Vitor Gonçalves Felipe/Evandro Gonçalves Oliveira Júnior (BRA) d. #23 Andy Cès/Edouard Rowlandson (FRA) (20-22, 21-18, 15-12)
#10 Isaac Kapa/Christopher McHugh (AUS) d. #26 Inocencio Lario Carrillo/Javier Monfort Minaya (ESP) (21-17, 21-16)
#8 Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl (AU) d. #24 Roberto Rodríguez - Bertrán/Hector Soto (PUR) (28-26, 21-12)
#25 Morten Kvamsdahl/Oivind Hordvik (NOR) d. #9 Edson Filipe H. Barros/Álvaro Morais Filho (BRA) (13-21, 21-14, 15-11)