Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil fall to Canada in round of 16

Posted at 4:36 PM, Jul 31, 2021


Team USA's ninth-seeded Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil finally fell in their round of 16-match loss to Canada's tenth-seeded Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson, 24-22, 18-21, 15-13. 

Despite a sluggish start to the first set that saw them five points down at 11-6 -- "collecting data," as Sarah Sponcil refers to the duo's process during the first ten or so points -- the Americans were able to tie the Canadians at 18-18, then took a brief advantage at 19-18. Following a score of 21-all, the U.S. team allowed the ball to go out of bounds twice, and won the set.  

Set two saw Claes and Sponcil start 4-0 just before a timeout, with their opponents caught in a series of errors; the Americans were up six points before the Canadians even got on the scoreboard. But Canada went on a five-point run to get back in the match, eventually tying at 12-12, and ahead at 15-14. After a challenged call at 19-17 when the ball touched Claes' finger before it went out of bounds, Bansley and Wilkerson took the set 21-18.

Set three saw the teams trading points -- culminating in a huge challenge at 12-11, which was first called in the Americans favor, but successfully re-challenged by the Canadians. Arguing with the referee, the U.S. received a yellow card -- and ultimately lost to their North American neighbors.

Bansley and Wilkerson will play either Latvia or the Russian Olympic Committee on August 3.  

SEE MORE: U.S. challenge is challenged, overturned again by Canada