On Saturday morning in Uberlandia, Brazil, a morning in which Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes could sleep in and relax and enjoy the fruits of their hard-earned bye, Taryn Kloth told Cheng that the Volleyball World Elite16 in which they were competing shall be renamed the “International AVP.”
Kloth and Nuss were on their way to a ninth-place match with Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon, their second straight all-American matchup of the tournament, following a pool play bout with Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles. Cheng and Flint had already weathered a USA-on-USA match, having begun the tournament against Sponcil and Cannon.
A few hours and three combined wins later, Kloth’s words proved even more prescient than before, as both teams advanced into Sunday’s semifinals, where they will meet one another in yet another all-American match.
Such matchups are inevitable when a quarter of the field consists of American women. It assures the USA at least one medal. The victor of their semifinal will meet the winner of Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy and Brazil’s Ana Patricia Silva and Duda Lisboa. The two losing pairs will play for bronze.
It’s the fifth time since December that Nuss and Kloth have played Cheng and Hughes. All four previous matches have gone the way of Cheng and Hughes, including most recently a 10-21, 31-29, 15-12 marathon under the lights at AVP New Orleans. Both teams, however, continue to improve at a staggering rate. Once stuck in a string of six fifth-place finishes in six tournaments, Nuss and Kloth have now broken the quarterfinals twice this season, the first being a gold medal run at the La Paz Challenge.
“For me I think there is something to be said about experience,” Nuss said. “Drew [Hamilton, their coach] and us have talked about that a lot. In the grand scheme of things, we really have not played a ton internationally so I think consistency and experience are correlated and that is what is being seen this tourney. We’re starting to put everything together. Still a long way from where we want to be but we’re definitely taking steps in the right direction.”
Those steps have included five straight sweeps in Brazil, including a significant 21-18, 21-17 quarterfinal win over world No. 3 Barbara Seixas and Carol Salgado.
“We walked into that last match against Brazil and I told…
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