American women bounce back

29.06.2019 - Hamburg, Germany

Claes/Sponcil and Summer/Hughes secured the USA's first victories in Hamburg

American women had a rough start at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord as the country embittered two losses in the first day of the tournament, but a pair of young teams started to turn the nation’s record around on Saturday morning.

Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil and Summer Ross/Sara Hughes both won their matches at the Red Bull Beach Arena and made things even for the Americans, who will have a chance to get a positive win-loss record later when April Ross and Alix Klineman face Nicaragua’s Valeria Mendonza and Lollete Rodriguez.

The 22-year-old Sponcil, who’s making her World Championships debut in Hamburg, and the 23-year-old Claes downed Russian veterans Ekaterina Birlova and Evgenia Ukolova 21-8, 21-16. They will now play Colombians Diana Rios and Yuli Ayala, who lost to Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes on their first match.

“It’s the first World Championships for our team and it was a little bit of a nerve-wrecking for us, but we did a great job in staying simple and staying together and just focusing on our side regardless of what they were doing,”  Sponcil said. “We sided out well and we were very aggressive and that helped us. It’s easy to be looking further ahead, but we want to keep focused on the moment.”

Summer, 26, and Hughes, 24, also had a winning debut, but hey needed all three sets (21-18, 15-21, 16-14) to prevail over Argentineans Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra in Pool K. The Americans almost wasted a 14-10 lead in their set, but managed to score two in a row in the end to secure their victory.

“I knew that it would be a battle and that they won’t go down without a fight,” Summer reflected. “They are too scrappy and have a scrappy partner here, so it couldn’t have gone any other way. It was good to get this first one off, but there will be more battles, every match here is going to be close and we need to be aggressive all the time.”

Their next opponents, on Monday, will be China’s Meimei Lin and Jinjin Zeng, who dropped their first match in Hamburg to Russians Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina.

The United States also got a victory in the men’s tournament, their second in three matches, as Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb defeated Uruguayans Marco Cairus and Mauricio Vieyto 21-17, 21-13. In the other match of Pool G, Polish Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak started off with a  21-10, 23-21 win over Russians Igor Velichko and Maksim Hudyakov.