Alix Klineman to make her post-partum debut

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The unofficial fall break, the six-week seaside volleyball hiatus between the Hamburg Elite16 and this week’s Paris Elite16, involves an finish on Wednesday, kicking off a second season of kinds that received’t finish till December’s World Tour Finals.

It additionally occurs to be arguably probably the most important stretch of the Paris Olympic quad.

The next 11 weeks embrace Elite16s in Paris and Brazil — an Elite in Dubai is unlikely to be held as scheduled in early November — the World Championships in Mexico, and 4 Challenges, an nearly continuous blitz that may reshape the panorama of the Olympic qualifying race. Being the primary cease of that run of occasions, the significance of Paris can’t be understated, as factors earned on this weekend’s Elite16 will affect seeding and entry factors for each occasion by means of the rest of the season.

None extra so than Hailey Harward and Alix Klineman.

Welcome again to the seaside, Alix Klineman

Whereas each different athlete has taken a six-week break, Klineman is on the heels of almost two years off and is simply three months post-partum from having her son, Theo. The truth that Klineman is wholesome sufficient to play this rapidly is outstanding in itself, and each she and Harward are beneath no illusions that they may vault straight to the highest of the Olympic rankings with a couple of first rate finishes. They’re chasing two of the highest groups on this planet in Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth (No. 3) and Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes (No. 4). They’re beneath a time crunch with which no different crew on this planet can empathize, and that crunch makes nearly each match, and notably the one-and-done qualifier matches on Wednesday, must-watch VolleyballTV.

They start with Ukraine’s Ievgeniia Baieva and Valentyna Davidova, a sneaky good crew who upset Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova at this 12 months’s European Championships…which is strictly who they’re prone to play ought to they win their first spherical, because the Latvians play Finland’s tireless duo, Niina Ahtiainen and Taru Lahti.

FIVB Ostrava 6/4/2021-Alix Klineman
Alix Klineman celebrates some extent in 2021/FIVB photograph

Introducing Terese Cannon and Megan Kraft

Whereas Harward and Klineman are making a late push on the Paris Olympics, Terese Cannon and Megan Kraft are competing just because enjoying seaside volleyball is what they do. Cannon and Sarah Sponcil had as soon as been as excessive as No. 4 on this planet within the Olympic rankings, however after a string of discouraging finishes, Sponcil determined to signal with the upstart Grand Rapids Rise of the PVF, which took them out of the operating for Paris 2024 (Sponcil did emphasize that she isn’t ruling out a possible Olympic run on the seaside for the 2028 Los Angeles Video games). Kraft, in the meantime, competed this season with Emily Stockman, who retired after the Chicago Gold Collection on Labor Day Weekend.

On paper, it appears an odd combine, a pair of blockers with a grand whole of 1 match through which both of them performed any protection. That got here in 2021 for Kraft when she split-blocked on the Manhattan Seashore Open with Graudina, her accomplice at USC. However Kraft has extra expertise enjoying protection than her skilled resume suggests, as she break up with Graudina for a complete 12 months at USC, profitable one among Kraft’s three NCAA Championships within the course of. An Elite16 is a unique degree than the NCAA, after all, however nonetheless: She’s succesful within the backcourt, and Paris shall be an efficient tuneup for the 2 as they put together for subsequent week’s World Championships.

Sarah Pavan and Molly McBain’s massive probability

Pavan and McBain aren’t Individuals, however our Neighbors Up North nonetheless deserve some digital ink due to how intriguing the Canadian race has all of the sudden turn into. With the Canadian federation awarding Pavan and McBain the berth into World Championships, it’s now not that wild of a chance that they will qualify for the Paris Video games on factors. They’re at the moment ranked No. 40 within the race and solely have 5 finishes. To upset their method into the primary attract Paris, maybe break pool, and comply with it up with a top-10 at World Championships would make issues awfully fascinating.

The highest Canadian spot is actually secured by Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson, who’re seeded third and have medaled in three of their earlier 4 occasions, together with gold on the Montreal Elite16.

Sarah Pavan
Canada’s Sarah Pavan in the course of the Tokyo Olympics/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Will Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk hop on the battle bus?

In my Street to Paris sequence breaking down the Olympic race, I’ve a phase known as the Wrestle Bus, informing viewers of which groups are in want of end after a string of not-so-good finishes. Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk, after a ninth on the Edmonton Problem and a primary spherical qualifier exit on the Montreal Elite16, have made their solution to the Wrestle Bus Cease.

Will they hitch a experience in Paris, or will they discover the groove they’ve been in search of since they teamed up in December? Their draw is, so far as Elite16s go, favorable, with a first-round matchup towards Chile’s Grimalt cousins, a crew towards whom Bourne has by no means misplaced. The winner of that matchup will meet the winner of Australia’s Thomas Hodges and Zac Schubert and France’s Aye brothers, Quincy and Calvin.

On condition that Bourne and Schalk are within the Pool of Loss of life at subsequent week’s World Championships, getting end in Paris is all of the extra necessary.

Tri Bourne-Chaim Schalk-AVP New Orleans
Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk have fun a win at AVP New Orleans/Mpu Dinani photograph

Chase Budinger, Miles Evans and a much-needed Elite16 breakthrough

The USA males’s crew with probably the most on the road in Paris is, with little doubt, Chase Budinger and Miles Evans. They’re at the moment the primary crew on the reserve record for World Championships, and are due to this fact prone to miss out on the largest point-scoring alternative within the Olympic race. With the Dubai Elite16 in November probably off, that makes the stakes in Paris significantly increased. A poor end in Paris and there’s little probability they’ll be capable to get into the Elite16 in Brazil in November, relegating them to Challenges transferring ahead.

It received’t be simple.

They may meet the Netherlands’ Robert Meeuwsen and Alex Brouwer within the first spherical and certain Spain’s Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera within the second.

Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner can prolong their lead

Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner are the USA crew with the least quantity of stress on Wednesday. Sure, everybody desires to qualify, and doing so is not any simple feat. However they’re already main Bourne and Schalk, and the stress for them to make the primary draw isn’t anyplace near as excessive as their American rivals, particularly since they’ve a pleasant pool on the World Championships. Their draw within the qualifier isn’t nice, seeing the Netherlands’ Steven van de Velde and Matthew Immers within the first spherical, and both Brazil’s Renato Lima and Vitor Felipe or Austria’s Julian Horl and Alexander Horst within the second.

No matter what occurs, they’re nonetheless in fine condition.

All matches may be seen on Volleyball World TV. Use “VOLLEYBALLMAG” for a reduction.



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