U.S. men's volleyball looks to qualify for the 2012 Olympics


The United States men's national volleyball team opens play at the NORCECA Continental Championships on Monday in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico as the first step toward qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.

The top two finishers at NORCECA advance to the FIVB Volleyball World Cup, which begins Nov. 20 in Japan. The top three finishers at World Cup will qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The U.S. is looking for its eighth NORCECA title. The tournament has been held every two years since 1969. In that time, only the United States and Cuba (14) have won the title. Cuba is the defending champion.

The Americans have been training in Anaheim since returning from an Olympic test event in London at the end of July.

"The guys are doing a good job of practicing with intensity," U.S. coach Alan Knipe said. "We've made a huge effort to clean up our transition. We're trying to take care of the out-of-system plays at a much higher level."

The U.S. meets Trinidad and Tobago in its first match Monday, followed by Costa Rica on Tuesday and Cuba on Wednesday.

Brian Thornton was named the U.S. starting setter over Stanford grad Kevin Hansen, who was hampered by a preseason appendectomy. He also took time off for the birth of his first child.

Beach volleyball

The U.S. women's beach volleyball team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh will play Brazil's Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca for the 20th time in Sunday's final at the HP Beach Open in The Hague.

The third-seeded Americans opened play Saturday losing to China's second-ranked Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, 21-19 22-20, in 34 minutes. May-Treanor and Walsh also lost to the Chinese team in the gold medal match in Aland last week. Weather played a factor as rain and wind made things unpredictable.

May-Treanor and Walsh moved into the consolation bracket, where they beat fellow Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, 29-27, 21-19, in 45 minutes.

In the semifinals, May-Treanor and Walsh defeated Brazil's fourth-ranked Talita Antunes and Maria Antonelli, 21-14, 19-21, 15-10, in 44 minutes.

"We were smart in placement," Walsh said. "In these windy conditions, you have to use finesse."

The winners of Sunday's women's final will share $30,000.

Track and field

Stanford grad Jillian Camarena-Williams easily advanced to the finals of the women's shot put competition at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, Korea on Sunday.

Camarena-Williams threw 62-0 3/4 in her only toss of the qualifying round to finish second in group A behind New Zealand's Valerie Adams, who also needed just one toss in qualifying. Adams went just under 65 feet.

American Michelle Carter, a California grad, also qualified for the finals. Carter, the daughter of former 49er star Michael Carter, threw 61-10.

The finals are Monday.

Men's water polo

The U.S. junior national team, featuring Stanford's Paul Rudolph, Alex Bowen and Nick Hoversten, dropped a 7-4 decision to Spain on Saturday at the Junior World Championships in Volos, Greece.

The Americans are slated to meet Russia on Sunday.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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