International Volleyball

Mewhirter breaks it down as Olympic beach volleyball pools announced

Mewhirter breaks it down as Olympic beach volleyball pools announced

Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss are in Mewhirter’s “Pool of Death”/Volleyball World photo

The beach volleyball Olympic field is set.

All of it.

The 17 spots have been punched via Olympic rankings. The French wild cards have been doled out — to Remi Bassereau and Julien Lyneel, and Aline Chamereau and Clemence Vieira. The Continental Cups have been played, and the subsequent selections made.

And on Friday morning, the drawing of lots became official, with all 24 teams being separated into their respective pools. Before we get into the breakdown and analysis of each pool, a quick primer on the Olympic format:

  • It is a round-robin style pool play, in which teams will play every opposing team in their pool
  • Three teams from each pool will break into the playoff rounds
  • The top two third-place teams will begin in the round of 16, while the bottom four third-place teams will compete in a pigtail round, or what is known as a lucky loser. The winners will advance into the ninth-place rounds.

Women’s Olympic beach volleyball pool breakdown

Pool B: The Pool of Death

In any major world-class competition in which pool play is the format, there is an inevitable pool of death. For the women, that is, by a long shot, Pool B, featuring world No. 2 Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth; China’s Chen Xue, now a four-time Olympian and a bronze medalist in the Beijing Games, and Xinyi Xia; Tokyo silver medalists Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy of Australia; and Canada’s Heather Bansley, now a three-time Olympian and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and Sophie Bukovec, who punched their Paris ticket by winning the NORCECA Continental Cup.

How tough is this pool? The only team without Olympic experience is the one seeded at the top. Australia was always going to be a land mine, due to Clancy sitting out much of the year with an injury. Same goes for Bukovec and Bansley who, had they played together for the entirety of the Olympic cycle, likely would have qualified via points rather than the Continental Cup. Alas, they were a shotgun marriage, with Bukovec splitting with Sarah Pavan and Bansley coming out of retirement in the middle of the qualification cycle. They narrowly missed on points, and emerged from an undefeated Continental Cup. Every match in Pool B will be must-watch TV.

Pool C: The Pool of Second Chances

It’s rare enough to see one team with a second life in the Olympic Games, much less two, much less two…

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