U.S. Olympic beach volleyball teams appear set as silver medalist bows out
Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat appeared to clinch the last U.S. Olympic beach volleyball spot this week.
Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross and the men’s pairs of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena and Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson previously mathematically clinched berths.
The four Olympic pairs are expected to be officially announced next week.
Fendrick and Sweat mathematically clinched a spot after 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day were eliminated in pool play at the final Olympic qualifying event in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday.
That combined with the eliminations of other international pairs assured Fendrick and Sweat will finish the Hamburg event in Olympic qualifying position. Fendrick and Sweat were also eliminated from the Hamburg event on Friday but didn’t need to advance any farther for Rio qualifying purposes.
Fendrick and Sweat, who have no Olympic experience, partnered in 2014 and have reached seven quarterfinals in top-level international tournaments, but never a semifinal.
The beginning of Fendrick’s and Sweat’s Olympic careers means the end of Kessy’s, since nations can send no more than two pairs per gender to the Olympics.
Kessy, 38 and a London silver medalist with Ross, returned to the sport in 2015 after a one-year break to have a daughter.
She and Day made the quarterfinals of their first event together last year but only once more did they advance that far in their next 20 top-level international tournaments. Kessy said she plans to retire after this season, according to the International Beach Volleyball Federation.
The average age of Walsh Jennings, Ross, Fendrick, Sweat, Dalhausser, Lucena, Gibb and Patterson is 35, making it the oldest U.S. Olympic beach volleyball contingent of all time. Beach volleyball debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
NBC Olympics producer Seth Rubinroit contributed to this report.