Rome, Italy, June 14, 2011—Tuesday’s second day of round robin matches provided more excitement and intrigue amid the backdrop of one of the world’s most unique venues as the $1 million FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships, powered by smart, continues through Sunday at the historic Foro Italico complex in the heart of the eternal city. Women’s action in the double-gender event saw the second 32 of three days of round robin pool play matches played once again under mostly sunny Roman skies as 96 two-person teams representing 34 countries are competing on five purpose-built courts within the sprawling complex including the featured center court within the newly constructed 10,000-seat tennis stadium.
The internationally-televised eighth FIVB Swatch World Championships features 48 teams in each gender split into 12 four-team pools to start the event with each team playing three matches within their respective pool alignments. The women completing their round robin play Wednesday and the men Thursday and the top two teams from each pool along with the best eight third-place teams will emerge into the 32-team single elimination phase that will ultimately crown the 2011 FIVB world champions following the medal matches on Sunday evening.
In an event where champions are made as every team strives to be the best, young Italians Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti, with a host-country seed of 13th, opened their pool play by winning two matches Tuesday for the lead in their pool.
Menegatti/Cicolari, who finished second and fourth in the last two FIVB Swatch World Tour events in Poland and Beijing respectively, thrilled the Foro Italico partisan with a pair of two-set victories. In the morning, the Italians defeated 37th-seeded Roos Van der Hoeven/Jantine Vander Vlist, 21-7 and 21-8, in just 25 minutes, the shortest match of the women’s tournament so far.
In their evening victory under the lights in front of several thousand Italian compatriots and a huge banner which read “Cico & Marta…Queens of Rome”, Menegatti/Cicolari beat USA’s 12th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson, 21-17, 21-17 in 36 minutes on the Foro Italico center court.
“We knew this would be a difficult match, but we were able to play at our best and everything went smoothly,” said the popular Menagatti following the match with the Americans. “I had some difficulties during the second set, but I could overcome them thanks to my teammate. Greta always helps me. She knows how to cheer me up. This has been a real tough match, intense untill the very end, and we played point by point. Fendrick and Hanson are an excellent team. Today I felt a bit nervous: playing at home is a rather strange feeling, since when we play abroad nobody supports us. The atmosphere here is just great, the audience gives us impetus, which can only benefit us.”
Top-seeded Brazilians Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won their second round robin match by overpowering Netherland’s 25th-seeded Rebekka Kadijk/Merel Mooren, 21-14, 21-18 in 34 minutes. Juliana and Larissa are looking for their first FIVB Swatch World Championships after earning silver medals in 2009 and 2005 along with a bronze medal in 2007.
Juliana/Larissa will complete their pool play portion of the event at 3 p.m. on Wednesday on court 5 against Germany’s 24th-seeded .Jana Kohler/Julia Sude, who defeated Italy’s 48th-seeded Giada Benazzi/Viktoria Orsi Toth on Tuesday, 21-17, 21-13 in 34 minutes.
Defending FIVB Swatch World Champion Jennifer Kessy/April Ross, seeded third, captured two pool play match wins Tuesday. The current FIVB Swatch World Tour point and money leaders, started their tournament Tuesday morning with a two-set victory over Austria’s 27th seeded Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli, 29-27, 21-11 in 49 minutes and came back in the late afternoon to earn a three-set win 22-24, 21-7 and 15-12 in 48 minutes over Czech Republic’s 22nd seeded Hana Klapalova/Lenka Hajeckova.
Statistically for their two matches, Kessy had 57 attacks, 35 kills, 17 digs, four blocks and five ace serves while Ross had 67 attacks, 37 kills, 24 digs, two blocks and four aces.
“The Czech team deserved to win the first set,” said Ross. “They played fluently after all, they had to win this match after losing their previous match. As for us, we must play point after point, match after match. We don’t feel under pressure because we have a world title to defend, despite the fact everybody is reminding us of that. This tournament is the FIVB Swatch World Championship where everybody wants to win the Gold Medal. There certainly are teams we fear more, like China and Brazil, but we must walk our path step by step, game by game.”
After a short delay in play because of a quick-passing lightning storm, USA’s three-time FIVB Swatch World Champions and two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh won their second match of the day. Playing in front of several thousand partisan fans on the Foro Italico center court, May-Treanor/Walsh, seeded fifth in the tournament, toppled Italy’s 29th-seeded Laura Gimbini/Valeria Rosso, 21-16, 21-11 in 32 minutes. In the their first match Tuesday morning, May-Treanor/Walsh defeated Czech Republic’s 20th-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, 21-12, 21-19 in 34 minutes.
In their twin wins Tuesday, May-Treanor had a total of 69 attacks, 31 kills and 34 digs while Walsh, whose husband Casey Jennings and teammate Kevin Wong are 2-0 in men’s pool play, record 41 attacks, 28 kills, four blocks, 11 digs and seven ace serves.
“Winning in Beijing (last week) was just great and after the injury I felt more than ever the will to win,” May-Treanor commented following her team’s win over the team from the Czech Republic. I wanted to be back on court as quick as possibile. All teams taking part in this championship want to win, there so much at stake. Relax is a word that doesn't exist in our vocabulary, it's a terrible word. All we have to do is go on, playing match by match."
Brazil’s second-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes, fourth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands, China’s eighth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, USA’s 11th-seeded Angie Akers/Nicole Branagh, Greece’s 19th-seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti/Maria Tsiartsiani and Germany’s 40th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler are among the other teams leading their pools with 2-0 records as well.
The previous FIVB Swatch World Championships in the current format were held in Los Angeles (1997), Marseille, France (1999), Klagenfurt, Austria (2001), Rio de Janeiro (2003), Berlin (2005), Gstaad, Switzerland (2007) and Stavanger, Norway (2009). The first FIVB World Championships were held in Brazil in 1987, prior to the start of the current format that began in 1997.
The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.
After the FIVB Swatch World Championships, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour takes one week off before it continues with three consecutive Grand Slam double-gender events: June 27 to July 3 in Stavanger, Norway (ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011), July 4-9 in Gstaad, Switzerland (1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam) and July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000. Also on the international calendar during this window and immediately following the FIVB Swatch World Championships will be the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Youth World Championships, for players under 19 years old, June 21-26 in Umag, Croatia.
The 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships media guide is now available online in the media section of each gender’s tournament page. More information on this year’s FIVB Swatch World Championships presented by smart is available both www.fivb.org and at www.beachvolleyroma.com.
For more information contact:
FIVB Press Department Director
+41 79 603 3926