World Championships Day 9 Recap
By Tom Feuer
On the second to last day of a transcendent World Championships of Beach Volleyball in Hamburg, Germany, Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman came away with a silver medal, Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb of the U.S. played their way into a potential bronze medal and at the end of an emotionally exhausting day a big upset occurred in the final match on Center Court.
Ross and Klineman picked up 1440 points towards Olympic qualification (By comparison A four star win is 800 points and a Major win is 1200) and split $45,000 in prize money but came away disappointed after losing to Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana Paredes 23-21, 23-21 in a 58 minute final.
“We’ve had to fight our way here,” Humana Paredes said after the match. “It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t an easy road at all. And that’s what made it even more special. It wasn’t pretty at times, it wasn’t the best we’ve ever played, but we managed to stay together and fight. It was all heart and we wanted it so bad and now we have it. It is the best feeling ever.”
Humana Paredes, 26, was like a Hoover vacuum on the court digging a number of Ross’ hard driven balls and shots. She has played in various FIVB events since the age of 16 so the stage in Hamburg was not anything she had not seen before
“Mo played incredible defense today. She was reading them really well controlling all of their hard driven shots and we were able to turn a lot of points and that was the big difference today,” said Pavan.
The Canadians (Pavan was a former All-American at the University of Nebraska and an NCAA Player of the Year indoors), seeded only ninth, got out to a big first game lead, 14-7, and hung on. Their game plan was to attack April Ross and put as much pressure on her by serving aggressively.
Game two was a much more back and forth affair with the U.S. pair at one time up 17-15 but then a Pavan block on Ross’ soft tip gave them the match and the gold medal.
“I am pretty upset,” Ross said. “To get here and have it be Alix’s first World Championships it would have been so amazing to win the gold.”
“Things never felt totally in our wheelhouse or comfort zone,” Klineman said. “So I think when things felt uncomfortable we don’t translate that into the same momentum as when we are firing on all cylinders.”
The match figured to be a close one. Coming in to the match, the series record internationally between the two teams was knotted at two a piece which did not include their AVP match-up in Huntington Beach in May which the Americans won 17-15 in the third.
It was Ross’ third medal at a World Championships with three different partners. With her current Coach Jen Kessy she won gold 10 years ago in Stavanger, Norway, a silver two years ago in Vienna and then today’s silver medal. Not to be forgotten is a fourth place finish with yet another partner, Whitney Pavlik, in Stare Jablonki, Poland in 2013.
Earlier in the day, Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb on Court Two had their backs to the wall in a big way against Brazil’s defending World Champion Andre Loyola and his new partner George Wanderley. The American were down 12-8 and match point at 14-11 before escaping with a 16-21, 21-15, 17-15 win. It was a historic takedown, because it was the first time in the history of the World Championships that Brazil was shut out of the medals. “We made a little adjustment at the end by sending Tri up to block every play and me on defense. He got a couple blocks and then I got a couple of digs so it kind of worked out perfectly that little adjustment and that was the key right there,” Crabb said.
Later in the day back on Center Court Bourne and Crabb took on Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy, the third seeded Russians. Two years ago Krasilnikov won the bronze at Worlds with Nikita Liamin.
Yesterday, Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy took care of Americans Jake Gibb and Trevor Crabb’s brother Taylor rather easily in straight sets. Today, it was a battle for the Russians. After losing the first 13-21, Bourne and Trevor Crabb came back to surprise Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy 21-19 in the second. The Russians then came from behind in set three to pull it out 15-11.
No player in this tournament is competing at a higher level than Krasilnikov. His ability to read the defense and dig balls, combined with his error free offense has been so far one of the major stories here. Until they faced Trevor Crabb and Bourne the Russians had not lost a set the entire tournament.
In the last match of the day a packed and loud stadium of 13,000+ fans willed their fellow countrymen Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler to an absolutely stunning 17-21, 21-16, 15-12 over the world’s consensus number one team, the Volley Vikings of Norway, Anders Mol and Christian Sorum. Thole and Wickler came in seeded 12th and their best finish of the season was a second in Den Hague in January where they handily lost to the team they will play for the gold medal on Sunday, Stoyanovskiy and Krasilnikov.
Earlier in the day Thole and Wickler ended Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena’s amazing run from the Lucky Losers 21-18, 21-17. Afterwards Dalhausser said the crowd was the loudest he has ever heard in his 15 years playing on the FIVB circuit, a stretch which first began ironically at the World Championships in 2005 which were held in another German city, Berlin. It is only fitting that his career internationally will be book ended by these two Worlds.
The Volley Vikings will take on Bourne and Trevor Crabb at 12:30 pm in the bronze medal match tomorrow before the gold medal finale featuring the Germans and Russians tips off at 2:00 pm local time.