With a straight-set win against Latvia in pool play, Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal are back in Group D's top spot. It is a good position to be in, as the men's beach volleyball Round of 16 starts taking shape.
The top two seeds in each group progress to the elimination round.
No other duo currently representing the United States suffered more adversity in qualifying for the Olympic Games than Gibb and Rosenthal. They didn't even secure the second men's seed until the last qualifying points event in Rome.
Earning the second seed for Team USA in such white-knuckle fashion wasn't even the biggest obstacle the duo faced. What started out as a positive result during a doping test may have saved Gibb's life, not to mention his career.
After consultation with doctors, and a subsequent lifting of the doping ban, Gibb was diagnosed with testicular cancer in June of 2010. It was the second cancer scare for the Olympic athlete, who had surgery on his shoulder to remove a cancerous skin growth in 2004.
Progress in London
The duo ended pool play 2-1, winning in straight sets against South Africa in their first match. Poland earned an unexpected win against them in the second round of pool play. Gibb and Rosenthal bounced back quickly, dominating Latvia for a win, outscoring them nearly 2-1 during the match.
Gibb and Rosenthal join Jennifer Kessy and April Ross as the first two American teams to cement their positions in the elimination rounds. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser are likely to join them as pool play wraps up.
Team USA isn't the only country likely to see four teams moving on. Both men's and women's teams playing for Brazil currently hold tops spots in their respective groups. Expect to see all of them move on to the semifinals and beyond. It will be interesting to watch how the rest of London's men's and women's group of 16 fills up.
Who will play in the men's and women's gold-medal matches remains to be seen. But my bet is on the Americans in all cases. What a glorious day it would be for the United States if we cement all four final-round spots. I expect to see Brazil fighting for bronze, swept away under a wave of red, white, and blue.
Kathryn Walsh played indoor volleyball in junior high and high school. Once in college on the California coast, she discovered beach volleyball. She has been an avid fan and occasional player since.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jake Gibb
- Sean Rosenthal