Strong US teams win their pools in Rome – Men’s favorites on track
Eight pool winners from eight different countries in the men’s competition. The first day of main draw at the Rome World Tour Finals saw the men’s favorites advancing to today’s round of 16. Norwegian Vikings Anders Mol and Christian Sorum who are only second-seeded won their first match against France and didn’t need to play their second one against Italians Carambula/Rossi due to injury. Russian world champions Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy posted wins against Italy and Qatar’s Cherif/Ahmed to top pool C. Americans Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb posted a huge win against the Italian crowd’s favorites and top-seeds Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai. The Italians who played with passion and the crowd’s support, had the lead in the first set at 17:11 and set point at 20:19. But the US team fought back and very much to the disappointment of the audience, a block by Jake Gibb brought the first set for the Americans. After losing the second set, the Americans showed a superb performance in the tie-break to win the match and Pool A. Further pool winners on the men’s side are Hamburg silver medalists Julius Thole/Clemens Wickler from Germany, Ondrej Perusic/David Schweiner (Czech Republic), Latvians Martins Plavins/Edgars Tocs Dutchmen Steven van de Velde/Christiaan Varenhorst and Brazilians Evandro/Bruno who beat 2013 world champs Brouwer/Meeuwsen (Netherlands).
In the women’s competition, the US teams dominated on the first day of pool play and claimed three pool winner titles. A-Team April Ross and Alix Klineman posted wins against Italians Gaia Traballi and Agata Zuccarelli as well as Canadian top team Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson. Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil defeated Russia and strong German team Sandra Ittlinger and Chantal Laboreur in two sets. Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen upset Canadian world champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan to whom they had lost at last weekend’s AVP Chicago Gold Series Championships. All three teams go directly to this afternoon’s round of 16. For three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh and her partner Brooke Sweat it will be one additional round since they lost to Brazilians Ana Patricia/ Rebecca after beating Czech team Hermannova/Slukova earlier.