Tops seeds leave sticky start behind to make smooth progress

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Doha, Qatar, April 5, 2016 (FIVB) – Top seeds Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson made a good start to their debut Qatar Open when they won two from two on Tuesday, the opening day of the main draw at Al Gharafa Sports Club.

First off they had to fight hard to beat Germany’s Armin Dollinger and Lorenz Schumann 2-1 (17-21, 21-12, 15-12) and then followed that result with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) victory over Turkey’s leading duo, Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe.

“We were worried coming in because we had two awful practices,” Gibb said. “This is deep sand and it is different from what we train on and we got smashed in practice on the first day and second day, so it was good to get two wins.”

Gibb and Patterson flew to Qatar having competed at the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam and the Vitoria Open in Brazil, where they reached the second knockout round in both FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour tournaments.

Compatriots Ty Bourne and John Hyden, who won bronze in Qatar in 2015 are also in Doha. Gibb and Patterson are competing hard with them, as well as 2015 Qatar silver medallists Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser for one of the two spots on offer for the USA at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

The top 17 teams in the Rankings – including two from hosts Brazil – will qualify for Rio 2016. Currently Gibb and Patterson are fifth in the provisional FIVB Olympic Rankings, with Lucena and Dalhausser in 15th, slightly ahead of Bourne and Hyden.

However, Gibb knows from London 2012 qualifying that they can’t take anything for granted. He and then partner Sean Rosenthal left it till the final World Tour qualifying tournament in Rome to book their place and while they did it in style with their first World Tour gold medals, Gibb is hopeful that they will leave a little more to spare this time.

“I’m prepared for it, but I’m expecting to do a little better than that,” he said. “It going to get nasty, that is how it is, that is how it was the last two qualifying periods for the Olympics.

“The USA always produces a bunch of really good teams, so we just have to grind it out.”

Ranghieri and Carambula open in style

Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula also won two from two to take control of their pool, though they will need to beat 2015 Qatar gold medallists Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen on Wednesday in order to top the pool.

The Italians opened with a 2-1 (21-14, 12-21, 15-7) win over young Polish team Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak and then rounded off the day by beating Norway’s Oivind Hordvik and Bjarte Usken 2-0 (21-13, 21-13).

Ranghieri and Carambula are chasing their first World Tour medal since winning gold at the Antalya Open in October 2015. Their most recent tournament was the Vitoria Open in Brazil, where they finished fourth, the closest they have come to the medals since their victory in Turkey.

“I think we started off a little slow, but we picked up the energy and we played our game here and now we are looking forward to tomorrow and trying to win the group,” Carambula said.

“We have played three tournaments (in 2016) and won three pools. We’re still growing and I’d say we’re only playing 70 percent of our game right now.”

The Qatar Open is the second and last tournament for men only on the 2016 portion of the 2015-2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. It is the third straight year that Qatar has hosted a FIVB World Tour event in Doha and it runs from April 4-8 when the medal matches take place.

The event continues the Road to Rio that lasts until June 13, 2016 with FIVB World Tour events counting towards the Olympic Ranking in order to determine 15 of 24 spots for each gender that will take part in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The next World Tour tournament is the Xiamen Open in China, which takes place from April 12-17.