Tuesday, 26 September 2023

International Volleyball

Betsi Flint, Julia Scoles ace qualifier

Betsi Flint

One ace, two aces, three aces, four, five aces, six aces, seven aces — well, no more, but you get the drift. It was at the service line that Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles punched their ticket into the main draw of this week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Montreal Elite16.

In their final round alone, against Brazil’s Vitoria De Souza and Andressa Cavalcanti, Flint notched four aces and Scoles added another three, sealing a 21-17, 21-19 win. That victory came on the heels of a shockingly smooth 21-11, 21-8 win over New Zealand’s Alice Zeimann and Olivia MacDonald, scores you don’t often see in an Elite16, even in a qualifier.

Wednesday marked a critical qualification for Flint and Scoles, extending their perfect streak in qualifiers together as a team as well as their momentum gathered from last weekend’s Challenge event in Edmonton. They were the top finishing American team in Edmonton, closing with a fifth, matching their best finish of the season.

Montreal presents another massive opportunity, as, incredibly, they find themselves in a pool with two other American teams: Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon, and Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss. Rounding out Pool C is Sarah Pavan and Molly McBain, the former Florida State standout in her rookie season on the Beach Pro Tour. Currently, Flint and Scoles trail Nuss and Kloth by 880 points in the Olympic standings, and are 400 behind Sponcil and Cannon.

Regardless of what happens in Montreal, however, Flint and Scoles assured their spot as the fourth USA team in this fall’s World Championships, as only the Hamburg Elite16 remains in the World Championships qualification period. Neither Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft, nor Savvy Simo and Toni Rodriguez will have enough points to enter Hamburg.

All of that, of course, is in the distant future. For now, Flint and Scoles have more beach volleyball to play in Canada, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Pacific, against Sponcil and Cannon. Thirty minutes later, Nuss and Kloth will play Pavan and McBain, who were wild-carded into the main draw.

Betsi Flint hits a serve at the Edmonton Challenge/Volleyball World photo

Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes, meanwhile, are on an island, the only American team in Pool B. They’ll begin their tournament against Barbara and Carol, the hottest team in the world who is currently riding a three-tournament winning streak, with back-to-back gold medals won in Challenges in Espinho and Edmonton (the other is the…

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