The USA woman are doing very well on the FIVB. In the Olympic qualification standings (shown below) there are 4 USA teams in the top 10 of which 2 will qualify. Alix Klineman and April Ross hold the top slot by a large margin. However, the second slot is a tight race among three teams: Sarah Sponcil / Kelly Claes, Kerri Walsh-Jennings / Brooke Sweat and Kelley Larsen / Emily Stockman. The race has never been so competitive!
One of the reasons is the addition of Beach Volleyball as a NCAA sport. Check out this article, with an AVP focus, by Wayne Holly with a lot of statistics supporting this argument: (passed on from Ricky Pszenny) : NCAA to PRO
Anyway, let’s take a look at top competition that the USA teams face. The top four teams hail from two countries: Brazil and Canada.
Olympic Qualification Ranking
Image from: https://www.fivb.com/en/beachvolleyball
Ana Patricia Silva and Rebecca Cavalcanti
Brazilians Ana Patricia and Rebecca at the top of the Olympic qualifying list. Ana Patricia and Rebecca had 3 wins in attempts in 2019, however none of the wins were in the “5-star equivalent events.” In these events they finished third twice (Rome and Gstaad) and ninth twice (Vienna and Hamburg). In their third place finishes they lost semi-finals to fellow Brazilian teams. In Rome they lost their semi-final to Agatha and Duda, and in Gstaad they lost to Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado.
Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan
Next on the list are the World Champions, Canadians, Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan. Pavan and Humana-Paredes had 3 wins in 12 attempts in 2019.
They won the World Championships in Hamburg and the 5-Star in Vienna. In Gstaad they finished 5th losing to Ana Patricia and Rebecca in the quarter finals. And in Rome they also finished 5th losing to Agatha and Duda.
As a side note, this team also competes on the AVP. They won 2 of the 4 events they played in, winning in Manhattan Beach and Waikiki, beating Alix Klineman and April Ross both times. In Huntington they lost to April and Alix in the finals and in Chicago they had an off tournament finishing in 5th, losing to April and Alix in an early winner’s bracket round.
Overall this is the team to beat.
Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Duda Lisboa
Next on the list are Brazilians Agatha and Duda. They had 2 wins in 12 attempts. In Hamburg and Gstaad they finished 9th. However, in the last two big events Agatha steadily improved. In Vienna they finished 3rd, losing to Pavan and Humana-Paredes in the semi-finals. And in Rome finished 2nd, losing to Germans Laura Ludwig and Margareta Kozuch in the finals.
This team is dangerous. Agatha and Duda were FIVB tour champions in 2018 and Agatha has a silver medal from the 2016 Olympics playing with Barbara Seixas.
Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson
The next contenders are Canadians Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson. This team had 2 victories in 11 attempts. However, they did not reach the quarter finals in any 5-star equivalent event. Their best finish was a 9th in Gstaad. They finished 17th in Hamburg, Vienna, and Rome.
Brandie also plays occasionally plays on the AVP. Her best finishes were 3rd twice with Sara Hughes.
(Note: Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado are on the Olympic qualifying list above Bansley and Wilkerson but will not play in the Olympics because the Brazilian federation has already selected Agatha/Duda and Rebecca/Ana Patricia as their Olympic teams.)
How did the top USA woman’s teams done against the top 4 international teams in FIVB events in 2019?
The USA teams performed reasonably well against top international teams. Overall the top 6 USA teams were 20-29 against the top non-USA teams. The top 4 USA teams (exclude Flint/Day and Hughes/Ross) had a record of 20-22. Furthermore, Alix and April had a 75% winning percentage against these teams, and Sarah and Kelly had a 43% winning percentage.
The USA definitely has a shot a multiple medals in Tokyo!
|Kerri Walsh Jennings
|Ana Patricia Silva
|Melissa Humana Paredes
Eduarda Duda Lisboa
See you on the beach,