International Volleyball

Olympic Beach Volleyball Rankings, updated May 26

Olympic Beach Volleyball Rankings, updated May 26

Chase Budinger, left, and Miles Evans, last weekend in Espinho/Volleyball World photo

The race for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games officially began in February 2023 in Doha, Qatar, with the Volleyball World Elite16. The 2024 season began the first week of March back in Doha, and the final event of the Olympic qualification cycle will be the Ostrava Elite16, which ends on June 9. We’ll be providing these updates for the Beach Volleyball Olympic rankings after international points-earning tournaments:

On a dreary and otherwise innocuous Friday in April, Chase Budinger and Miles Evans landed what is arguably the biggest win of their Olympic race.

Maybe 50 people were there to see it.

A playoff for the NORCECA Continental Finals, a tournament worth the same Olympic and entry points as a Challenge, only with a handful of competitive teams as opposed to 24 of them, pitted Budinger and Evans against Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner in the finals. Budinger and Evans won, 15-13 in the third, and Budinger, typically a staid and quiet competitor, celebrated with uncharacteristic emotion. He yelled. Banged his chest. Friends and family stormed the court. A number of viewers were, at best, confused, at worst, poking fun at Budinger and Evans for such a seemingly low-stakes win.

Why the fuss over a NORCECA?

Because, in a round-about way, it might have decided the Olympic race.

Budinger and Evans went down to the Dominican Republic, mopped up the field, took the 800 Olympic points with them β€” but the effect of that win didn’t stop there. Far from it. The entry points they gained pushed them to the top seed in this past week’s Elite16 in Espinho Portugal, making their route through the qualifier considerably easier than that of Crabb and Brunner. They made good on it, making the main draw, winning pool, and finishing fifth, their second straight Elite16 fifth-place finish, the points from which tacked on another 300 points to an already-comfortable lead.

Budinger and Evans now lead Crabb and Brunner by 540 points with just two tournaments remaining: A Challenge in Stare Jablonki, Poland, and an Elite16 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Even if Budinger and Evans don’t add a single point to their total, Crabb and Brunner still need to win gold in Poland, and then come out of the qualifier in Ostrava and finish fifth or better.

Espinho produced an equally momentous points-boost on the women’s side, to 22-year-old Spaniards Tania Moreno and Daniela Alvarez. Red-shirting from TCU…

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