U.S. women’s water polo shuts down Spain for third straight world title

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The dominant U.S. women’s water polo team moved another step toward a triple-double of major titles Friday, winning a third straight world championship with an 11-6 win over Spain in a rematch of the 2017 final.

Next year, the team will go for a third straight Olympic gold, having already clinched a berth in the tournament by winning the World League Super Final last month. The Americans will be heavily favored, having won 53 straight games.

After a sloppy start that allowed Spain to forge a 3-3 tie in the second quarter, the U.S. broke things open with a 6- run, including a 4-0 spread in the third quarter.

Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson, an East Coaster on a team full of Californians, was once again nearly unbeatable, stopping nine of 14 shots in the first half to keep Spain from taking the lead. She stopped six shots in the first quarter alone and finished with 14 saves before heading to the bench when the game was safely in hand late in the fourth quarter.

The U.S. took charge in the middle of the game with a balanced attack to compensate for the absence of leading scorer Maddie Musselman, who was out sick. Eight different players — Maggie Steffens, Paige Hauschild, Stephanie Haralabidis, Makenzie Fischer, Melissa Seidemann, Aria Fischer and Kiley Neuschel — scored the first eight U.S. goals.

Neuschul finished with a hat trick, one shy of her four-goal output from the 2017 final, while Steffens added her second.

The U.S. women are the first team to win three straight world titles. Since Adam Krikorian took over in 2009, the team has won four of six world championships, two straight Olympic championships and three straight World Cups.

The gold medal kicked off a banner day for the U.S. at the World Aquatics Championships, with Simone Manuel‘s 100m freestyle win accounting for one of three swimming medals while Caeleb Dressel and Regan Smith set world records in their semifinal races.

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U.S. Olympic 3×3 basketball qualifying teams named with former NBA player, WNBA stars

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Former NBA player Robbie Hummel and WNBA stars lead U.S. Olympic qualifying teams in the new Olympic event of 3×3 basketball.

The four-man and four-woman teams will compete in a global qualifier in India in March, each favored to grab one of three available Olympic berths per gender for the U.S.

Hummel, who unretired to become world champion in 3×3, is joined on the U.S. Olympic men’s qualifying team by Team Princeton teammates Canyon Barry and Kareem Maddox, plus Dominique Jones, who has played with Team Harlem. Team Princeton is guided by an investment firm CEO who once beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Last year, Hummel, Maddox and Barry (one of Rick Barry‘s sons) were part of a team that won the world title.

The U.S. women’s 3×3 qualifying roster is made up of WNBA stars Napheesa Collier, Stefanie DolsonAllisha Gray and Kelsey Plum. The U.S.’ top-ranked 3×3 player, as of last month, is Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, who can’t play internationally this spring as she is in the thick of the NCAA season.

Olympic teams will not necessarily be made up of players from the qualifying tournament.

If the U.S. qualifies for Tokyo, it will then choose its roster(s) in a similar fashion to its traditional basketball teams — via selection committee. It’s unlikely active NBA players will be eligible.

Like with the qualifying tournament, two of the four Olympic players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in FIBA 3×3 rankings (as of a May 22 cutoff).

In 3×3, games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

MORE: Kobe Bryant embraced the Olympics, on and off the court

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First U.S. sailors qualify for Olympics; gold medalist misses on tiebreak

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The first five members of the U.S. Olympic sailing team were finalized this past weekend. The last American sailor to win an Olympic title missed on a tiebreaker.

Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea (49er FX), Anna Weis and Riley Gibbs (Nacra 17) and Charlie Buckingham (Laser) qualified after world championships competition concluded in Australia. The U.S. Olympic roster across all sports is now at 43 qualified athletes.

The closest race for a U.S. Olympic spot came in 49er FX. Roble and Shea edged Paris Henken and 2008 Olympic champion Anna Tobias on a tiebreak. Roble and Shea, both first-time Olympic qualifiers, won Saturday’s medal race and earned an overall bronze medal.

That put the two U.S. duos in a tie in Olympic qualifying — combining placements from the 2019 and 2020 Championships, according to TeamUSA.org. The tiebreak went to Roble and Shea for having the better finish at this year’s worlds.

Tobias, a 37-year-old who won the individual 2008 Olympic Laser Radial as Anna Tunnicliffe, came out of retirement in a bid for a third Olympics. She left competitive sailing in 2014, took up CrossFit competitions and returned to crew for Henken more than two years ago.

“We are very sad and upset,” was posted on Tobias’ Instagram, “but we wish them [Roble and Shea] the best of luck.”

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