Recapping Women's Pool Play At FIVB World Championships
Need to catch up on what happened in pool before the playoffs begin tomorrow? We've got you covered. Here are the key things to know.
1. All four USA women's teams advanced to the 32-team elimination bracket.
April Ross and Lauren Fendrick, as well as Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat, finished in first place in their respective pools. In Summer/Sweat's pool, they were one of three teams to finish with a 2-1 record, but thanks to their 5-2 sets win-loss record, they took first place.
Emily Day and Nicole Branagh finished 2-1 in pool and took second place behind Brazil's Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes, the No. 1 women's team in the world. Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes also took second with a 2-1 record, losing to Maria Antonelli and Carolina Solberg Salgado, also of Brazil, who advanced as the No. 1 team in the pool.
2. Fendrick/Ross only lost one set in pool play.
Of all four American women's teams, Fendrick and Ross had the best showing in pool play. They defeated Laird and Ngauamo of Australia 2-0 (21-11, 21-18) and Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy, also of Australia, 2-0 (21-16, 21-13). Chen Xue and Xinxin Wang proved to be the biggest challenge for the Americans, pushing the match to three sets, but Ross and Fendrick ultimately prevailed 2-1 (21-17, 20-22, 15-9).
3. There will be a USA vs. USA match in the first round of the tournament.
Fendrick/Ross and Branagh/Day have the misfortune of playing each other in the first round of the elimination bracket. Branagh and Day will be at a disadvantage with the Vienna World Champs being their first time ever playing together. The pair formed after Branagh's former partner Kerri Walsh Jennings dislocated her shoulder at the Olsztyn Four Star event and was forced to withdraw from the World Championships.
Fendrick and Ross have played one AVP tournament together this year, the New York City Open where they won the title, and three FIVB events, with their highest finishes so far a pair of ninths at the Olsztyn Four Star and the Moscow Three Star.
4. Summer/Sweat and Claes/Hughes face tough initial matchups.
Perhaps playing another American team in the first round is a bad draw, but Summer/Sweat and Claes/Hughes won't exactly have a walk in the park in their first elimination round matches, either.
Claes/Hughes will take on Spanish two-time Olympian Elsa Baquerizo and her new partner Amaranta Navarro. Baquerizo has five FIVB silver medals and two bronze, and she and Navarro will be looking for revenge after losing to the young American duo last month at the Gstaad Major.
Summer/Sweat drew China's Wang/Xue in the first round. Wang is only 19, but has played on the FIVB since 2014, and recently won her first medal at the Nantong Two Star, a silver alongside Xue. Xue, a 28-year-old World Tour veteran, is a two-time Olympian, and first began playing on the FIVB in 2004 when she was only 15. She's played in four World Championships in her career, winning the title in 2013.
USA Women Elimination Round Schedule: FIVB World Championships
6:30 AM ET Summer Ross/Brooke Sweat (USA) vs. Xinxin Wang/Chen Xue (China)
7:30 AM ET Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes (USA) vs. Elsa Baquerizo/Amaranta Navarro (Spain)
11:30 AM ET April Ross/Lauren Fendrick (USA) vs. Nicole Branagh/Emily Day (USA)