Summer Sweat mystery produces pool perfect

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., USA, February 9, 2017 – Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat spent a grueling 2016 chasing their Olympic dreams with different partners. Ross and Lane Carico had their hopes dashed when Sweat and Lauren Fendrick grabbed the second and final USA spot in the Rio 2016 Games.

When Sweat and Ross became partners for the 2017 season, it was a bit of a mystery as to how they might perform.

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How does undefeated sound after three matches of the Fort Lauderdale Major?

The new duo swept through their pool, capping their run by dismantling German Olympic gold medallist Kira Walkenhorst and Julia Grossner Thursday to earn some time off before they resume in the elimination rounds of the $600,000 tournament.

Sweat and Ross are probably the only ones who believed they could do it. Well, plus their coach, Ty Tramblie.

“I’m so confident in our team,” Sweat said. “We’ve had a good month of training with our coach, so we were confident. A shaky start, but I’m proud of how we’ve progressed every match and I hope we can keep it going.”

They’ve already clinched at least ninth place in their first FIVB World Tour five-star event and will find out their opponent in the round of 16 Thursday. But Sweat and Ross like their momentum and, more importantly, their preparation.

Both are effusive in their praise for the 36-year-old Tramblie, still an active player on the AVP Tour in the United States. The 6-foot Tramblie is one of the players that Sweat, one of the top defenders in the world, has patterned her game after.

“Ty is the glue to this team,” Sweat said. “When we were talking about coaches, he was the only one that came to Summer’s mind. Ty is so talented. When I started playing, he was the person I watched on the guys’ side. On defense, he’s one of the best and not only that, he was an awesome blocker indoors.

“He’s helping Summer so much with that and he can still give me feedback on defense. Some coaches shy away from that because they think I can just be me. He brings this energy to the team that’s so positive. We have the best time together. I didn’t know this was possible.”

Ross, of course, has been one of the American talents fans have been waiting for to emerge. She was the first female player to win FIVB World Age Group championships in the under-19 and under-21 divisions in the same year (2010).

“Summer is probably one of the most talented players out here,” Sweat said. “Working with Ty, he’s opened up this whole new level to our game. We’ve got to bring it from the practice court to the competition court now, but people are going to be absolutely blown away when they see everything she can do.”

Or what she can be talked into doing. After an uneven start in their first match, both Sweat and Tramblie got into the 24-year-old Ross.

In the surprisingly efficient 2-0 (21-14, 21-13) win over Walkenhorst/Grossner, Ross was credited with three blocks and her presence in the net turned into easy transition points.

“Brooke and my coach fired me up and they were on me yesterday,” Ross said. “I was really frustrated but today was better. They were telling me to line up on your hitter and get in her face.

“I love playing with Brooke. So much experience, she gives me a lot of tidbits, helping me along. Everything is good stuff and I’ve got to do what she says.”

Ross and Sweat needed to play only once on Thursday after being one of only four teams to play twice on Wednesday. That gives them time for one of the duo’s favourite pastimes, sleeping. Or in Sweat’s case, hunting alligators in her native Florida.

“Yeah, let’s go,” she said with a smile. “Plenty of time.”


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