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Olympic beach volleyball puts former USC, UCLA stars on display – San Bernardino Sun

Jimmy Goren

The future of Tokyo-Beach Volleyball was exhibited at Shiokaze Park on Monday morning (Sunday PT) for the Olympic debut of Americans Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil.

Three of the four players who defeated Latvia in the United States appeared through the NCAA Beach Volleyball Program, which began in 2012. El Dorado High’s products Claes and Latvian Tina Graudina both went to USC and Sponcil played at rival UCLA. (USC coach Dain Blanton, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist at Laguna Beach High and Pepperdine, worked on the courtside of NBC.)

Like other US women’s teams, college beaches for the previous generation of 39-year-old April Ross (Newport Harbor High, USC) and her 31-year-old partner Alix Klineman (Mira Costa High, Stanford). Volleyball was not an option.

“I think there are a lot of athletes in the United States. This younger generation is coming thanks to the very exciting NCAA,” Claes said after winning three sets against fellow Trojans and Anastasija Kravcenoka. I did. “Thanks to that, I’m really excited to see the sport grow further.”

Since beach volleyball was added to the Olympics in 1996, we have had to rely on players who switched after playing indoors at college and then playing in professional leagues in Europe and Brazil. However, the NCAA Beach Volleyball Program offered options Claes (25 years old) and Sponcil (24 years old) that were not available to their predecessors. (Men don’t have a college beach program in the US yet)

Americans want to be able to return to dominance of the sport by starting early on the beach, just as Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treaner won the Olympic gold medal three times in a row. I’m out. In Rio de Janiero, Walsh Jennings and Ross won the only American medal, the worst American medal in history.

“It’s really cool to see how beach volleyball pendulums around the world change,” Claes said. “The United States has been at the forefront with Misty and Kelly for a long time, and I think the other world has caught up and overtaken us. NCAA brings this huge new generation of great athletes to the forefront. And I think we’re going to do such a pushback. ”

Sponsil said that when she grew up in Phoenix, young girls might have the opportunity to compete indoors in school and play on the beach only in the summer. There were no beach volleyball clubs in the area. Now there are more than 10.

“The girls are starting to get younger. It’s crazy,” she said. “And people choose it as a sport, so it’s really cool for many girls to go to the beach from the beginning. It’s going to be much better when it comes to college and professionals.”

Even in Latvia, Graudina felt a pull.

And when she was visiting the university, it was Cress who hosted and guided her. She chose the USC and led the Trojan to this year’s national championship. Claes and Sponcil each won consecutive NCAA titles while in school.

They are football weekend rivals, but they teamed up for a 21-13, 16-21, 15-11 win at the opener, scoring the last 6 points of the third set and winning a small USC. Was Claes and Sponcil-on-USC Crime: Spikes from Cress that struck Glaudina.

“I lost to them the last two times (on an international tour), so there was a lot of revenge in the match,” Cress said. “But it was really exciting and a little nervous.”

A strong start

Ross and Kleinman defeated China’s Xue Chen and Wang Xin Xue 21-17, 21-19 in the opening round on Sunday (Saturday PT).

Ross has made his third appearance in the Summer Olympics with a third different partner. She has already won a silver medal (with Jennifer Kessy in 2012) and a bronze medal (with Walsh Jennings in 2016). Kleinman is making his Olympic debut. They are one of the gold medal favorites.

Ross and Kleinman then face Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan.

US MEN SPLIT OPENERS

Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne’s American men’s pair defeated Italy’s Enrico Rossi and Adrian Ignacio Carambra Laurich 21-18, 21-19 in the opening round, not two exercises, but what It looked like they were playing together for years.

Bourne replaced Give’s partner Tailor Club for the past five years after the club tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Tokyo. Give and Bourne have never played together and practiced together only twice before the opening match. Still, they scored the first three points of the match and processed Carambula’s Skyball Serve. It reached an estimated 55 feet in the air and spun down relatively easily.

Gibb and Bourne will then face Qatar’s Cherif Younous and the world’s second-largest team, Ahmad Tyan.

Olympic beach volleyball puts former USC, UCLA stars on display – San Bernardino Sun Source link Olympic beach volleyball puts former USC, UCLA stars on display – San Bernardino Sun

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