Megan Kraft celebrates twenty first in fashion with qualifier wins on the Paris Elite16


The Paris Elite16 has solely been an occasion for 2 years. Already, it has established a peculiar penchant for celebrating birthdays in fashion.

Final 12 months, Katja Stam, the Netherlands’ 6-foot-4 blocker, celebrated her 24th birthday by successful a gold medal with Raisa Schoon. One 12 months later, Megan Kraft celebrated her 21st with a pair of wins within the qualifier — sweeps over Austria after which France — and a main-draw berth with Terese Cannon.

The most effective half?

Extra volleyball, extending the birthday weekend at the very least two extra days and three extra matches.

“I’m simply grateful to have such a supportive and joyful accomplice in Terese and we’re each so excited to get to play extra volleyball,” Kraft mentioned.

For each Cannon and Kraft, it’s their first occasion with out their earlier companions. Kraft had competed this season alongside Emily Stockman, who retired after the AVP Chicago Gold Sequence, whereas Cannon had performed the earlier two years with Sarah Sponcil, who lately signed with the Grand Rapids Rise of the upstart Professional Volleyball Federation.

“Actually we’re simply actually excited to play extra volleyball,” Cannon mentioned. “A minimum of three extra video games to maintain discovering our groove and it kinda simply appears like we’re enjoying with home cash at this level so we’re having enjoyable with it.”

And the way can they not? There’s exactly zero strain on the brand new crew, particularly given the truth that Kraft hasn’t defended since split-blocking with Latvian Tina Graudina at USC in 2021. They may now contend in Pool B, in opposition to fellow People Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth, Australians Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy, and Italians Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi.

Forward of them, in Pool A, is Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles, who’re joined by Brazil’s Ana Patricia Silva and Duda Lisboa, Tanja Huberli and Nina Brunner, and Finnish qualifiers Niina Ahtiainen and Taru Lahti. Pool D, in the meantime, options Germany’s Svenja Muller and Cinja Tillman, Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes, France’s Lezana Placette and Alexia Richard, and German qualifiers Laura Ludwig and Louisa Lippmann, who look stronger each match and made remarkably fast work of the qualifier.

As a lot enjoyable as Cannon and Kraft had on Wednesday, they had been, sadly for USA Volleyball as a complete, the one crew to take pleasure in such enjoyable in Paris.

Terese Cannon-Paris Elite16
Terese Cannon passes on the Paris Elite16/Volleyball World photograph

Alix Klineman, Hailey Harward upset in opening spherical

Olympic gold-medalist  and new mother Alix Klineman performed her first seashore volleyball match in practically two years on Wednesday. All issues thought of — the truth that she went 718 days with out competing, that she is simply three months out from giving delivery to her son, that she had by no means performed a aggressive level with Hailey Harward — she and Harward performed properly.

Matched up with Ukraine’s Ievgeniia Baieva and Valentyna Davidova, Klineman and Harward staked themselves to a 12-10 lead within the third set, and siding out. However 4 straight earned factors for Ukraine flipped the script, and Baieva and Davidova completed the upset with a 15-13 third set win.

“Transferring slightly sluggish on the market nonetheless,” Klineman wrote on social media, “however blissful to be again enjoying.”

They may have eight days of relaxation and tuning up earlier than subsequent week’s World Championships.

American males fall flat in Paris Elite16

Whereas there may have been minimal expectations or strain on both of the American ladies’s groups — each new pairs and a participant getting back from maternity depart — the strain solely mounts with every occasion on all American males not named Miles Partain and Andy Benesh.

Three USA males’s groups competed in Wednesday’s qualifier.

Zero shall be competing this weekend.

Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk fell within the first spherical to Chile’s Grimalt cousins, Marco and Esteban (21-18, 22-24, 15-11), whereas Chase Budinger and Miles Evans did the identical to the Netherlands’ Robert Meeuwsen and Alex Brouwer (21-17, 21-18). Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner practically pulled off an epic comeback in opposition to Austria’s Julian Horl and Alexander Horst, rallying from down 1-7 and 6-12 and even had a swing to take a 14-13 lead. Alas, that swing was blocked by Horl, and Crabb’s out of system line shot on the following level sailed lengthy, sealing the 23-21, 13-21, 15-13 win for the Austrians.

Wednesday marks the primary time Bourne has ever misplaced to the Chileans, and the primary time in 9 years for Schalk, whose final loss to the Grimalts got here in 2014 with Ben Saxton. For the second straight match, Bourne and Schalk have been eradicated within the first spherical of the qualifier, a brutal blow to their entry factors transferring ahead. Equally, the loss drops the entry factors for Budinger and Evans to the purpose that stepping into any Elite16s in 2023 or early 2024 shall be practically unimaginable, until they’re able to slip into subsequent week’s World Championships and make a large run.

Whereas Partain and Benesh had been already comfortably forward within the Olympic race, the failure of their friends to advance into the primary draw ensures that lead shall be even comfier.

The highest seed within the match, Partain and Benesh are in a tough Pool A that features Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Arthur Mariano, the Netherlands’ Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot, and Australian qualifiers Thomas Hodges and Zac Schubert.

All matches of the Paris Elite16 could be seen on VolleyballTV. Use “VOLLEYBALLMAG” for a reduction.

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