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2018-07-14 10:56:00 CET

Americans gearing for the sprint to Tokyo

The teams from the USA showed a high competitive level this week in Gstaad

Stockman and Larsen had an impressive campaign in Gstaad this weekStockman and Larsen had an impressive campaign in Gstaad this week

The shake-up that affected all American female beach volleyball teams a few months ago appears to have ignited the already high competitive level in the country. And even with the last two teams from the USA kissed goodbye to the Swatch Major Gstaad in the quarterfinals, the tournament saw first-hand how intense the internal battle between them will be as they gear up to the start of the Olympic race towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Seven American teams competed this week in Gstaad and four of them were formed last March. There were four matches among them and three of them were just decided after a tie-breaker.

“It’s improving, it’s increasing for sure,” April Ross, who finished fifth in Gstaad with Alix Klineman, said. “There’s more competition than last quad. Some younger players are on Tour doing better and better, so it’s going to be a tough quad.”

One of the up-and-coming teams mentioned by April is certainly the one of Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman. The duo, which started its campaign in Gstaad in the country-quota on Monday, also reached the quarterfinals, where they were stopped by Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa.

The six-match winning run that took them to the fifth-place in the Swiss Alps might have surprised many, but not themselves.

“It’s not a surprise to us how well we did in the tournament,” Stockman added. “Our coach got us prepared well. He’s coached on the World Tour in a very high-level, so we have a lot of confidence in him and what he’s doing with us. I don’t care about the notoriety stuff. We’re here to play and that’s it.”

The 30-year-old defender and Larsen have played in six World Tour events together, amassing four top-10 finishes and a bronze medal in the three-star event in Lucerne. The good results have included them in the competition for the country’s Olympic berths when the qualification process starts in September.

“It’s been amazing,” Stockman commented. “We’re working towards certain goals and we’re getting there and we’re just improving as a team every time we step in the court. A lot of potential here and we’re super excited. We’re making a big push, it’s a sprint to Tokyo and we’re in the right track right now.”

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