Early errors abounded in the Round of 16 match between the U.S.' second-seeded April Ross and Alix Klineman and Cuba's 20th-seeded Lidy Echevarria and Leila Martinez, but the Americans ultimately prevailed: 21-17, 21-15.
Ross and Klineman are off to the quarterfinals, where they will play Germany. They're just three wins away from a gold medal -- which would be Ross' first.
Germany's Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler secured a come-from-behind victory against U.S. pair Jacob Gibb and Tri Bourne by 17-21 21-15 15-11 to reach the quarterfinals.
The loss ended the Olympic run for the Americans, who had never played together, but were paired when Gibb’s partner Taylor Crabb, who tested positive for COVID-19 just prior to the Games and had to bow out.
The match marked the end of Gibb's long career. At 45, he said he plans to retire.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S MATCHES
It was the beach volleyball equivalent of David vs. Goliath: Spain's 14th-seeded Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa McMillan against Canada's first-seeded Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes.
The match went pretty much as expected, with Canada's relentless attacks resulting in a 21-13 first-set victory. Pavan and Humana-Paredes ripped open a 10-4 lead in the second set when a ball went wide, and began to pile on point after point (with a few exceptions). Final score: 21-13, 21-12.
Could we be headed toward a North American gold medal match, Canada vs. the United States? Canada has two pairs left, both in the top half of the bracket, while Ross and Klineman are on the bottom.
INTERNATIONAL MEN'S MATCHES
Latvia's Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs continue to improve their bonafides with a straight-sets defeat of Brazil's Bruno Schmidt and Evandro, 21-19 and 21-18. The Brazilians were tied 16-16 in the first set and pulled within 19-18 in the second but Plavins and Tocs stood strong (and leapt stronger) in reaching the quarterfinals.
The Grimalts are out. Chilean cousins Marco Grimalt and Esteban Grimalt didn't have enough to overcome the Russian Olympic Committee's Ilya Leshukov and Konstantin Semenov. The ROC players connected for twin 21-16 wins and will face Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway in the quarterfinals.
Make it two teams in the quarterfinals for the Russian Olympic Committee. Viachelsav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy were just too much for their Spanish opponents on Monday, though Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira hung around thanks to six aces. All told, however, the ROC's duo won 22-20, 21-17 to walk into the quarters.
Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy set up a high-profile quarterfinal with Qatar when they beat Poland's Michal Bryl and Grezgorz Fijalek in straight sets, 22-20 and 21-18. Lupo and Nicolai have lost only two of 10 sets on the hot sands of Tokyo. Cherif and Ahmed await.
Brazil's duo of Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Morais Filho had no issues taking down Mexico's Jose Luis Rubio Camargo and Josue Gaston Gaxiola Leyva.
The Brazilians took the first set by a score of 21-14 and then continued to outplay Mexico in the second set, winning 21-13 for the straight-set victory. As many expected, Brazil's duo will be headed to the men's quarterfinals.