International Volleyball

One beach volleyball event left: How remaining teams can qualify for Paris Olympics

Lili Fernandez-Paula Soria

Paula Soria watches Liliana Fernandez pass in Poland/Volleyball World photo

This weekend’s Volleyball World Challenge event in Stare Jablonki, Poland, the penultimate tournament in the Olympic qualifying period, seemed, to many, to decide the beach volleyball Olympic race.

Nothing, however, has been officially decided.

Even with Americans Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner failing to make it out of pool play while Chase Budinger and Miles Evans, their rivals sitting 540 points ahead of them, finished fifth — nothing has been decided.

Even with Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot of the Netherlands taking a bronze medal, and their countrymen Matthew Immers and Steven van de Velde, and Alex Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen claiming ninth and fifth, respectively, failing to add to their Olympic point totals — nothing has been decided.

Even with Spain’s Lili Fernandez and Paula Soria winning bronze, their first medal at a Challenge event or higher, jumping Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Molly McBain for the final Olympic qualifying spot — nothing has been decided.

Even with the Grimalt cousins, Marco and Esteban, getting knocked out by Austrians Julian Horl and Alex Horst, the team with whom they’re tied for the final Olympic berth — nothing has been decided.

It all comes down to next week’s Ostrava Elite16 in the Czech Republic, the final tournament in a 17-month period.

Then, and only then, will this long and winding Olympic race be decided.

Below is what every team with a shot at qualifying for the Paris Olympics needs to do in order to qualify.

Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner

The task ahead of Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner in Ostrava is no small one: Make the finals of the Ostrava Elite16. In other words: Do something they haven’t done as a partnership.

Their best finish in an Elite16 as a team is a ninth, although their fourth at the World Championships is demonstrably more difficult. Possible? Yes. Easy? Not in the least. They will be coming out of Wednesday’s qualifier, as will Budinger and Evans.

Budinger and Evans, of course, can take matters into their own hands. Up 540 points, they need a fifth or better to add to the ledger. If they make the semifinals, they punch their ticket to Paris, regardless of what Crabb and Brunner do.

Alex Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen

When I had my brother-in-law, a statistics major at BYU, calculate the probabilities of each team qualifying for Paris, he did so by running one million…

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