Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 29, 2012 – Playing the first two of three main draw pool play matches Wednesday, the world’s best young-adult women’s tandems are enjoying the Halifax Harbor sunshine, soothing summer breezes and the heated competition at the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Junior World Championships for players under the age of 21. This year’s 12th annual double-gender event began Wednesday in Halifax, a regional municipality of over 300,000 residents located in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada.
One team each from 11 countries are undefeated after the first day of action--Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and the United States.
The world championship event is being held through Sunday at the purpose-built beach volleyball complex on the Salter Lot of the Halifax Waterfront. This is only the second time in the event’s 12-year history that it is being held in North America, but also the second straight year in Halifax.
Gathered in Halifax for this year’s event are 63 teams (33 men and 30 women) from 26 countries. With 32 teams in each gender qualified into their respective main draws, the additional teams for each gender are reserve teams if needed to complete the respective 32-team fields. This is the first time in event history that a 32-team main draw field is being used for the competition.
The teams have been divided into eight four-team pools for round-robin play of three matches per team. The women began with two rounds on Wednesday and one on Thursday, while the men will have two rounds on Thursday and one on Friday.
The top three teams in each pool (24 total) will advance to the single-elimination bracket phase of the tournament. The women will begin their single elimination phase with two rounds on Friday followed by the women’s quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday. Men will play their first elimination round on Friday, followed by the second round and quarterfinals on Saturday and the semifinals on Sunday morning.
The bronze and gold medal matches for each gender will be held on Sunday at the SEA stadium center court.
Eight teams lead the way with 2-0 marks: USA’s third-seeded Sara Hughes/Summer Ross, Germany’s fourth-seeded Kim Behrens/Christine Aulenbrock, Brazil’s seventh-seeded Drussyla Costa/Rebecca Silva, Austria’s eighth-seeded Lena Plsiutschnig/Katharina Schuetzenhoefer, Russia’s ninth-seeded Ksenia Dabizha/Ekaterina Karapischenko, Czech Republic’s 11th-seeded Eliska Galova/Tereza Vankova, Australia’s 12th-seeded Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy and Norway’s 13th-seeded Irmelin Sannarnes/Signe Tauboll.
Because the field is 30 teams instead of 32, three teams won their single match on Wednesday: Canada’s top-seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes/Taylor Pischke, Switzerland’s second-seeded Nina Betschart/Anouk Verge-Depre and Israel’s Yael Lotan/Viktoria Nesterov. Because of scheduling, Poland’s fifth-seeded Jagoda/Gruszczynska/Katarzyna Kociolek did not play on the opening day but will finish their pool play with two matches on Thursday.
Countries represented in Halifax at the 12th anniversary of this event are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guatemala, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United States and Venezuela.
Thursday’s key matches featuring 2-0 teams to decide pool winners and byes in the first round of single-elimination bracket play will see Germany’s Aulenbrock/Behrens playing against Norway’s Sannarnes/Tauboll in Pool D and Russia’s Dabizha/Karapischenko meeting Austria’s Plesiutschnig/Schuetzenhoefer for the Pool H title.
A total of 11 women’s players (one team along with nine other players) from last year’s event are in Canada again this year. Switzerland’s Betschart, who won the gold medal last year in Halifax with Joana Heidrich, and is playing this year with Verge-Depre. Verge-Depre, who finished fifth in the 2009 youth worlds in Alanya, Turkey, has played in 11 FIVB SWATCH World Tour events, including seven this season.
Another one of the top women’s entries is USA’s Ross, who won the inaugural USA national collegiate sand volleyball pairs championship this past spring. Ross, who is playing with Sara Hughes for the first time in Halifax, was a double gold-medal winner in 2010, winning the youth world championship with Jane Croson in Porto, Portugal and the junior worlds with Tara Roenicke in Alanya, Turkey.
Among the other top returning women’s players is Canada’s Humana-Paredes who won the silver medal in Halifax last year with Victoria Altomare. Humana-Paredes is playing this year’s event with Taylor Pischke.
As the host nation, Canada has two men’s teams and three women’s teams qualified into their respective 32-team fields. In addition to defending champion May and new teammate Keith, the other men’s teams in the field of 32 is Nick Del Bianco/Ben Chow, who finished ninth in Halifax last year. Besides Humana-Paredes and new teammate Pischke, the two other women’s teams representing Canada are Julia Hamer/Charlotte Sider and Sophie Bukovec/Julie Longman.
In addition to Switzerland’s Betschart, USA’s Ross and Canada’s Humana-Paredes, among the top women’s players In Halifax is Germany’s Aulenbrock who won the women’s gold medal at the 2009 FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships in Alanya with Victoria Bieneck. Aulenbrock, who finished fifth in Halifax last year with Isabell Schneider, is teamed this year with Behrens.
Both finishing in ninth place in Halifax last year with different partners, teamed together this year are Russia’s Karapischenko, 19, and Dabizha, 18, both veteran international players despite their young ages. Karapischenko won the silver medal in 2009 (Alanya, Turkey) and 2010 (Poroto, Portugal), the bronze in 2008 (the Hague, Netherlands) and finished ninth in 2007 (Myslowice, Poland) at the FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships as well as a 25th (Modena, Italy) at the FIVB SWATCH Junior World Championships.
Dabizha, on the other hand, won the bronze medal (Larnaka, Cyprus) in 2012 and had ninth place finishes in 2010 (Porto, Portugal) and 2011 (Umag, Croatia) at the FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships.
The gold medal team in each gender in Halifax will also be rewarded by the FIVB and the organizers with wild cards and free transportation and an automatic main draw berth in a FIVB SWATCH World Tour event in 2012 or 2013. A total of 2,000 tons of special sand was transported to the SEA stadium complex to build the four competition and two practice courts for the venue, which includes the 3,000-seat featured SEA stadium center court.
Single day or all-tournament tickets for the event are on sale through the event website at www.sandjamhalifax.ca. Event information is available at 902.444.3773. Children, five and under, are free for the entire event when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
Produced by Canada’s Sports and Entertainment Atlantic (SEA) in association with Volleyball Canada and the Lausanne, Switzerland-based Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), more information is available at www.fivb.org with live streaming from center court available at www.sandjamhalifax.ca.
A founding province of Canada, Nova Scotia is nearly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, and is known for its high tides, lobster, fish, blueberries and apples. Halifax was the site of the first British town in Canada, founded in 1749. Since then, the area has evolved to be home for charming fishing villages, farming communities and Atlantic Canada's largest city. Halifax, the gateway to Atlantic Canada, has flourished as a prominent port city. Halifax was founded in 1749 by Governor Edward Cornwallis and 2,500 settlers to act as a naval and army base to protect the area, creating Canada’s first permanent British town on the world’s second-largest natural harbor. The peninsula, which Halifax is located on, is 4.5 miles wide and two miles long.
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