CUT SHOTS: SALGADO MADNESS
By Tom Feuer:
Look up the word inconsistent in the volleyball dictionary and the first family of Brasil volleyball, the Salgados (Mother Isabel, sisters Carolina and Maria Clara and brother Pedro) will stare back at you. One never knows what to expect from this talented but absolutely maddening clan.
Four times in the 30 year history of the FIVB World Tour (twice each on the men’s and women’s tours) teams have come all the way through the country quota, qualifying, main draw and medal rounds to win a tournament, and in half of those occurrences it has been accomplished by a Salgado…and it occurred in consecutive weeks!!
Two weeks ago in The Hague it was Carolina Salgado who teamed up with Maria Antonelli to run the table. Last weekend it was her brother Pedro, who with Guto (Gustavo Carvalhaes) ran the gauntlet in Porec, Croatia at the FIVB’s five star tournament.
The problem with all of this is that if the Salgados were a little more consistent they would not find themselves having to grovel through the weeds of these tournaments in the first place. Carolina followed up her Hague win by going belly-up in the next tournament losing in the country quota in Porec. Par for the course. Now, will the same fate befall Pedro who will be playing in a country quota in Gstaad, Switzerland two days after capturing one of the most gratifying tournaments of his career.
Whatever you think Pedro will do, the opposite always prevails. A 12th seed for the World Championships in the Hague in 2015 with Evandro Goncalves, Pedro emerged with a bronze medal. A year later they won their final tournament before the Olympics, and seeded fourth for the quadrennial event in their hometowns, Pedro and Evandro laid an egg finishing ninth. Now, who knows what they will do from this point forward. All I can say is buckle up.
Meanwhile, the draw for the World Championships took place in Porec at the same time as the tournament and things look pretty fair for the most part. The determination for seeding read like something from “Catch 22”:
based on each pair’s points 35 days prior to the Vienna event as a tandem’s best six of last eight finishes on the FIVB World Tour over a 365-day period are used to determine their technical entry points. The top 12 teams on the technical entry points’ list are seeded No. 1 through No. 12.
Somehow on the men’s side Brasil’s Saymon and Alvaro Filho ended up with a number one seed even though they have had played only four events together, well short of the minimum six required. Moreover, their finishes are not exactly number one seed material: a first, a fifth, and two ninths. In Porec they stumbled to a 17th.
All the Olympic medalists took it on the chin from the seeding “formula”: Gold winners Alison and Bruno, the clear favorites for Vienna, are a number five, silver winners Nicolai and Lupo, an 11th, and the bronze medalists Brouwer and Meeuwsen are the 10th seeds. Go figure.
From an American standpoint, things look good. Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena command a third seed with their toughest competition in their Pool C coming from compatriots Ryan Doherty and John Hyden.
Going off on a tangent here, Doherty and Hyden went to the AVP Seattle Open the last week of June, advanced to the winner’s bracket semis after pasting Stafford Slick and Billy Allen, 21-16 and 21-16 and then promptly forfeited. For what reason? So they could make it to Porec in time for the qualifier where they were bounced by Germany’s Armin Dollanger and Jonathan Erdmann. So, who wins the AVP tournament? Why it was Allen and Slick of course who came through the contenders bracket and upended Sean Rosenthal and Trevor Crabb. This whole episode is bad optics for the sport. I feel for Hyden and Doherty, but to show up for a tourney you know you are eventually going to forfeit does not feel right. I understand commitment to sponsors may have been in play here but it is illustrative of the lengths USA players have to go to make a living at the sport.
Back to the World Championships and Vienna. In Pool A Kerri Walsh Jennings and Nicole Branagh ended up with the 33rd seed and have none other than the number one seeds Larissa and Talita of Brasil to contend with as well as a dangerous but not well known German team Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider. They have a third, a fourth and two ninths already this year and will not be an easy out whatsoever.
In Pool I, Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes could win out. They have the inconsistent Salgado/Antonelli team as the top seeds in their pool and not much else. Claes has reportedly been bothered by a sore toe but the USC grads seemed to right the ship in Porec where they took fifth winning their pool handily. And speaking of bad toes, April Ross should be back this week in Gstaad, playing with Lauren Fendrick. Ross and Fendrick are seeded second in Pool K for the Worlds but seem well positioned as the top team in that quadrant is Taliqua Clancy and Louise Bawden of Australia who have two fifths and two ninths to their credit this season on the FIVB. Never bet against Ross in the big ones.
Tom Feuer has been a close observer of the sport since 1976. He currently works as the Director of Arizona State’s Cronkite Sports Bureau in Santa Monica, CA and is a Professor of Practice. Prior to that, he was the Executive Producer for Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket in Los Angeles and has won three National Emmy Awards for his work in television.