2021 Tokyo Olympic Update: Cancun Hub 1st Event Recap & 2nd Event Preview

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get into it. 

I’m sure you’ve been as glued to the FIVB YouTube coverage as you usually are to the AVP Amazon Prime coverage. The courts nestled right up next to the shoreline provide a spectacular viewing backdrop. But OMG – the wind and heat look punishing. 

With temperatures in the high 80s (that feel like 100+), athletes have taken more timeouts and extended sand-wiping breaks to cool off between points. Players were crawling on the ground between points, running to the ref or sideline for a sunglasses towel, and generally looking really hot. But the real problem seemed to be the wind. 

Every day has had sustained winds of 12 mph or more. Most days were in the high teens, low twenties. And the gusts weren’t consistent – sometimes they blew north/south, making one team’s serve receive extra tough. Other times, the east to west wind put the oceanside players into a boatload of trouble. 

Playing in that kind of wind is nearly impossible. Trust me – the fact that there is anything resembling volleyball happening is really impressive and proves how stellar these athletes are. And my weather app says the winds aren’t slowing down and the temps aren’t cooling off anytime soon. It’ll be interesting to see which teams make the best adjustments to the elements and capitalize off the challenge. 

Enough about weather (though my dad will be so proud to see I dedicated three whole paragraphs to it 😜). Let’s recap all that happened at the 1st Event. 



Olympic Standings Before Cancun 1st Event 


April Ross/Alix Klineman – 9080 

Kerri Walsh-Jennings/Brooke Sweat – 6960 

Sarah Sponcil/Kelly Claes – 6720

Kelley Kolinske/Emily Stockman – 6320


Cancun 1st Event Finishes


April Ross/Alix Klineman – 9th Place – 400 points 

Kelley Kolinske/Emily Stockman –  9th Place – 400 points 

Kerri Walsh-Jennings/Brooke Sweat – 17th Place – 320 points

Sarah Sponcil/Kelly Claes – 33rd Place – 160 points


Olympic Standings After Cancun 1st Event 


April Ross/Alix Klineman – 9080 (no change)

Kerri Walsh-Jennings/Brooke Sweat – 6960 (no change)

Sarah Sponcil/Kelly Claes – 6720 (no change)

Kelley Kolinske/Emily Stockman – 6360 (+40 points) 


As you can see for the ladies, not a lot changed. I won’t even add the spreadsheet because only one team looks different, and only by 40 points. It wasn’t the USA’s best showing, but I’m hopeful they’ll master the elements and come out swinging in the 2nd Event. 

A few things of note: 

  • Sponcil/Claes dodged a bullet when Walsh-Jennings/Sweat didn’t increase their OR. The youngsters need to finish well in these next two tournaments to have a chance to: a. overtake the second spot and b. not be in the Country Quota (CQ) for the final two qualification events in Ostrava and Sochi. They have the same task in Wednesday’s CQ, but their Qualifier draw will likely be a little easier than the 1st Event. They matched up against an excellent, low-seeded Brazilian team who will now be reseeded in the Qualifier. As the #1 seed in the Quali, Team Slaes are hoping for a truer-seeded matchup if they make it to Thursday. 
  • This was April and Alix’s first tournament loss since 2019, while their rivals on the World Tour and the AVP had a typical very strong showing. Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes’s Silver Medal edged them above the A-Team. There’s a new number one in the World Rankings and in the OR – the Eh-Team. 
  • Our Canadian AVP players played incredibly well. Pavan/Humana-Paredes’ run to the Finals included a Quarterfinal matchup with Pavan’s former partner Heather Bansley and the AVP’s Brandie Wilkerson. The Canada vs. Canada match was awesome. After losing the first and getting down 3-9 in the second, Wilkerson/Bansley almost came back. They tied the score 15-15 and battled point-for-point until the end. But Pavan sealed the deal with a sideline ace, a serve so close it was initially called out. After a bit of heated discussion, the up-ref deemed it in, and the World Champs advanced to the Semis. 

The potential scenarios are the exact same for the ladies in this next tournament. Meaning – Stockman/Kolinske can’t yet reach the USA’s second Olympic spot, and Sponcil/Claes need to medal while Walsh-Jennings/Sweat get 5th or worse for them to tie or overcome the spot. Here’s the point situation for the 2nd Event:



Points to drop: 480

Finish needed to increase OR: 4th



Points to drop: 480

Finish needed to increase OR: 4th



Points to drop: 400

Finish needed to increase OR: 5th



Points to drop: 400

Finish needed to increase OR: 5th


The only difference is Stockman/Kolinske now have to get 5th or better to increase their OR. Still trailing Walsh-Jennings/Sweat by 600 points, they have to medal at least twice in the remaining four tournaments. 


Olympic Standings Before Cancun 1st Event


Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb – 7000 

Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena – 6400

Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb – 6360


Cancun 1st Event Finishes 


Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb – 9th Place – 400 points

Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena – 9th Place – 400 points

Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb – 9th Place – 400 points 


Olympic Standings After Cancun 1st Event


Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb – 7040 (+40 points)

Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena – 6560 (+160 points)

Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb – 6440 (+80 points) 


All of the men added a bit to their OR, which made for little movement among their standings. Still, Dalhausser/Lucena are likely happy with a small bump to their cushion over Bourne/Crabb for the second Olympic spot, from a 40 point lead to 120 points! 


A couple of things of note: 

  • Bourne/Crabb were destined for the CQ and Qualifier, but they managed to escape both of them. Patterson/Budinger pulled out last minute due to a minor injury for Patterson. Because they pulled out so late, another team could not take their place in the CQ, and Bourne/Crabb automatically advanced. Then – enough international Main Draw teams dropped that Bourne/Crabb, who were highly seeded in the Quali, advanced right to the Main Draw. So rad for them. 
  • Bourne/Crabb will still be in the CQ for the 2nd Event. This is because Patterson/Budinger were never signed up for this tournament, so Allen/Benesh signed up and will be matched up against Bourne/Crabb in Wednesday’s CQ.

All four Men’s teams had truly spectacular moments and wins in this 1st Event. 

  • CQ and Quali winners Schalk/Brunner had a phenomenal first Main Draw match. They beat #2-seed, Alison/Alvaro, in three sets. The two really gelled this tournament, and I’m excited to see how they’ll progress. 
  • Bourne/Crabb started super strong and won their very tough pool. First, they took down the Latvians (who have already secured a spot in the Olympics through a special Qualification tournament) in three. Then, after a sluggish start against 6-seeded Brazilians Evandro/Bruno, the Hawaiians fought on and won 15-11 in the third.
  • Gibb/Crabb lost their first but then played two solid matches to get to the 9th place round. Their best was against the exceptional Dutch duo Brouwer/Meeuwsen in the first round of playoffs. 
  • Dalhausser/Lucena looked great and were sooooo close to winning their pool. Their second match was against the CQ/Quali Brazilians Guto/Arthur. Dalhausser/Lucena had a chance to win in two, but a set by Dalhuasser was blown rogue out of bounds to lose it 19-21. They struggled to regain their composure in the third. But they recovered nicely in their next match, upsetting Alison/Alvaro in three.


The 2nd Event point sitch for the men looks a little different than the 1st Event. 



Points to drop: 400

Finish needed to increase OR: 5th



Points to drop: 240

Finish needed to increase OR: 17th



Points to drop: 360

Finish needed to increase OR: 9th


Dalhuasser/Lucena’s 9th place put them in contention for the first USA Olympic spot! If they make it to the Final in the 2nd Event and Gibb/Crabb get 9th or worse, Dalhausser/Lucena will either tie or overtake the first spot. Super juicy. 

The race for the second spot is as tight as ever. For the two teams to tie for the second spot: 


Bourne/Crabb get 5th/4th/3rd/2nd/1st 

Dalhausser/Lucena get 25th/17th/9th/5th/4th 


For the Hawaiians to reclaim the second spot:


Bourne/Crabb get 4th/3rd/2nd/1st 

Dalhausser/Lucena get 25th/17th/9th/5th 


Though there wasn’t much movement, there’s a significant reality to this next tournament. Dalhausser/Lucena again only have to win one match to improve their OR. Bourne/Crabb now have to make the Quarterfinals to improve their OR. This is made even harder by their participation in the 2nd Event CQ, but never count these two supreme athletes out. 

Play starts on Wednesday 4/21! To livestream the matches, head to FIVB’s YouTube page here. I’ll meet you back here in 6 days for our 2nd Event Recap and 3rd Event Preview. Between now and then, I’ll be posted up on the couch hoping for an MBO Final or Champions Cup rematch at the Cancun Hub 2nd Event.