COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 24, 2012) – With the end of the 2012 Olympic Games, U.S. beach volleyball fans are looking to the future and wondering whom they might be cheering in Rio and beyond.
Some future Olympic hopefuls played Friday in the qualifying rounds of the Manhattan Beach Open, part of the 2012 Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series. They were hoping the competition would help prepare them for the major international tournaments they will be playing over the coming weeks.
Geena Urango (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and partner Caitlin Ledoux (Phelan, Calif.) won their two qualifying matches on Friday and will face top-seeded Jenny Kropp (Grand Island, Neb.) and Whitney Pavlik (Laguna Beach, Calif.) in the main draw on Saturday.
On Sept. 12-16, Urango and Ledoux will be part of the U.S. delegation traveling to Maceio, Brazil to compete in the World University Championships.
It has already been a long season for the team, both of whom competed in sand volleyball for their universities in the spring (Urango for the University of Southern California and Ledoux for Long Beach State) before moving on to the summer beach camps and tournaments.
But Urango said she is ready for the international competition.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’ve never been to Brazil so it’s a great excuse to go there. The competition is awesome. I’ve been playing with my partner Caitlin all summer so it’s great to be able to develop that partnership over the summer and really feel comfortable with each other.”
Other teams traveling to Brazil will be the women’s team of Summer Ross (San Diego, Calif.) and Emily Day (Torrance, Calif.) and the men’s duos of Will Montgomery (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Jeremy Casebeer (Santa Barbara, Calif.) along with Connor Hughes (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Adam Cabbage (Rio Rancho, N.M.).
Ross and Hughes will each play in Saturday’s main draw with different partners. Ross will compete with Kim Dicello (San Diego, Calif.) and will open in the main draw. Hughes and partner Lilla Frederick (Huntington Beach, Calif.) won two matches on Friday to qualify for Saturday.
Connor Hughes and Cabbage qualified for the men’s main draw on Friday while Montgomery and Casebeer lost their second qualifying match.
To reach the main draw, Hughes and Cabbage defeated Alex Jones (Northridge, Calif.) and Kyle Stevenson (Santa Monica, Calif.), 21-15, 21-13. Jones and Stevenson will be leaving Sunday for FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Junior (Under-21) World Championships on Aug. 29-Sept. 2 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Jones and Stevenson, who are both 20 years old and play volleyball for Cal State Northridge, worked hard to prepare for both Manhattan Beach and Halifax.
“We came, we prepared. We were at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista (Calif.) for three days and we’d love to thank all the staff there because they are really helping us out.”
Also traveling to Halifax will be the women’s teams of Ross and Hughes, who will be in the main draw for sure, along with Kirby Burnham (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Jace Pardon (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), who are first on the waiting list should a team from another country not be able to compete.
As for the question of what teams will be the next Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh or Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, Jones said time will tell.
“I don’t think anyone knows who’s going to be the best when they’re in their 30s,” Jones said. “So USA Volleyball has an under-21 training program for us. I think there were 18 to 25 guys and we trained really hard. The big thing is any one of those guys could be the next Olympian. We just don’t know who it is yet.”
The Manhattan Beach Open will begin main draw play on Saturday at 9 a.m. and continue until 6 p.m. Play will begin Sunday at 8 a.m. The finals on Sunday will be filmed for TV on NBC Sports Network and will be streamed live online. The women’s final will be at 2:15 p.m. PT and the men’s final is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT.
To view the men's main draw bracket, click here.
To view the women's main draw bracket, click here.