It was a battle for Canadian supremacy yesterday in Cincinnati, and just when they need it the most, Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter have come out on top and are on their way to the semi-finals for the first time this season. They face Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena of the USA at 4:35 p.m. ET.
Sitting 430 points behind Virgen/Ontiveros of Mexico for the final Olympic spot - Josh and Sam have a huge opportunity to gain some ground as the Mexican duo saw their tournament end in the second-round.
The first round saw Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton put away Argentina with ease, setting up a meeting with Binstock/Schachter in the second round. After winning their pool yesterday, Josh and Sam were waiting, stopping Ben and Chaim with a 21-19, 21-17 win. They finish with their third-straight Top-Ten and are one step closer to clinching an Olympic berth.
Sam Pedlow and Grant O'Gorman, who have quietly been have been having a stellar season, put together a pair a strong matches to make it to the quarterfinals. In the first round it was a straight-set victory over Puerto Rico, followed by stealing the third set form the Crabb brothers 15-13 to break through to the quarterfinals for the second time this year. With their sights on Rio, Josh and Sam were on a mission - but it wasn't going to be easy as they took it 15-12 in the third. This is the second fifth-place finish for Pedlow/O'Gorman this season.
Two other men's pairs made it to the playoffs in Cinicinnati. After dropping the opening set 31-29 to New Zealand, Cam Wheelan and Mike Plantinga pulled off the comeback to take it in three and advance. The second-round saw them face No. 1 seed Casey Paterson and Jake Gibb, where they held their own losing 21-17, 21-15 - finishing ninth for their best-ever finish on the FIVB Tour.
After pulling out a win in their final mach of pool play, Christian Redmann and Felipe Humaña-Paredes matched up with Americans John Hyden and Tri Bourne, falling in two-straight and finishing 17th.
Women Stumble in Cinci
Playing on North American soil has not given the home court advantage our women's beach pairs have hoped for - and Cincinnati was no different. Of the four teams moving past the group stage, ninth was the highest finish we could produce.
Finishing with 17th's, both teams of Melissa Humaña-Paredes and Taylor Pischke as well as Julie Gordon and Brandie Wilkerson fell in the first round. Brandie and Julie had a great week end on a sour note as they were stopped in their tracks by the Dutch - but a 17th is a stark-contrast from a year ago when this pair struggled to qualify for the Main Draw.
China's Xue/Xia, who hold the final Olympic spot, are making their deepest tournament run this year at the expense of our Canadians. In round one it was Mel and Taylor who pushed the Chinese pair to a third but couldn't close it out. Next was Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley, who were undefeated through pool play. While Sarah and Heather are one of the teams to watch on Tour - they were caught in the tracks of a determined pair and dropped the match two-straight.
While a Top-Ten finish is nothing to shake a finger at, both our top teams were looking for more in Ohio. Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas were looking for a deep tournament run to entrench themselves in the Olympic picture. Unfortunately a second-round exit at the hands of Gerans Holtwick/Semmler leaves them with a ninth.