Rome, Italy, June 16, 2011—Just 16 women’s teams remain in the hunt for the gold medal after Thursday’s first elimination round cut the field down from 32 duos at the $1 million FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships, powered by smart, which continues through Sunday at Rome’s historic Foro Italico sports complex.
The internationally-televised eighth FIVB Swatch World Championships started Monday with 48 men’s and 48 women’s teams and three days of round robin pool play. The women completed their round robin play Wednesdayand the men Thursday and the top two teams from each pool along with the best eight third-place teams advanced to the 32-team single elimination phase that will ultimately crown the 2011 FIVB world champions following the medal matches on Sunday evening.
Pacemakers in Thursday’s opening round was defending FIVB Swatch World Champions and current FIVB Swatch World Tour point and money leaders Jennifer Kessy/April Ross of the United States and top-seeded Brazilian tandem of Juliana Filesberta Silva and Larissa Franca, the three-time defending FIVB Swatch World Tour season champions.
Kessy/Ross, who defeated Juliana/Larissa in the 2009 FIVB Swatch World Championships in Stavanger, Norway, needed just two sets on Thursday to defeat Canada’s 39th-seeded Heather Bansley/Elizabeth Maloney, 21-14, 21-14 in 39 minutes.
Juliana/Larissa advanced Thursday with their 21-16, 21-14 victory in 35 minutes over Switzerland’s 46th-seeded Tanja Goricanec/Muriel Graessli. The Brazilians are the three-time reigning FIVB Swatch World Tour champions with a silver medal, bronze and another silver medal in the last three FIVB Swatch World Championships.
In their win over Bansley/Maloney, Kessy was credited with 18 attacks, 11 kills, six digs and one block and Ross recorded 21 attacks, 11 kills, 10 digs, three blocks and one ace serve.
Following their first round win over the Canadians, Ross commented, “Last time we played them in Thailand (Nov. 2010), we lost to them so it put us on edge a little bit today. We knew they were a good team. We came in guns blaring because we knew they could score points with their serves. In the World Championships, you have to play as hard as you can every single match. There is no way you will take any team for granted.”
Second-seeded Brazilians Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes overcame the challenge of Czech Republic’s 44th-seeded Sona Novakova/Tereza Tobiasova, 21-19, 21-13 and 15-11 in a 53-minute match. Antonelli stats in the match included 44 attacks, 20 kills, 12 digs and two aces while Antunes tallied 36 attacks, 20 kills, 13 digs and three aces.
In a battle of two Dutch teams, Netherlands fourth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel beat 25th-seeded compatriots Rebekka Kadijk/Merel Mooren, 21-17, 21-15 in 37 minutes.
Three-time FIVB Swatch World Champions and two-time Olympic gold medal winners Misty May Treanor/Kerri Walsh of the United States were victorious over Great Britain’s 41st-seeded Zara Dampney/Shauna Mullin, 21-13, 21-12 in 29 minutes. In their victory, May-Treanor had 24 attacks, 16 kills, 14 digs and three aces while Walsh contributed 14 attacks, 9 kills, one dig and three blocks.
Brazil’s ninth-seeded Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima were upset by USA’s 12th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson, 23-25, 20-22 in 44 minutes and USA’s 11th-seeded Angie Akers/Nicole Branagh were upset by Czech Republic’s 22nd-seeded Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova, 22-24, 21-19 and 13-15 in 56 minutes.
The surprise pool winners who won again in Thursday’s first elimination round was Italy’s popular 13th-seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti along with Australia’s 18th-seeded Louise Bawden/Becchara Palmer, and Spain’s 23rd-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez and China’s eighth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang.
Following their seed-breakthrough win Thursday, Fendrick said, “I am very delighted. Any win on this tour and at the FIVB Swatch World Championships is a big win. Definitely there are some fantastic Brazilian teams, but any team out there is tough, so we try not to focus too much on our opponents and just worry about what we are doing. But they played great today. Our goals coming in were to just play really good volleyball and to focus on each point and each play. We’ve done the preparation, we’ve worked really hard in the offseason, so when we get here this is where the fun happens and we just play volleyball.
“It was neck and neck the whole way. We had a little lead and they came back. They had the lead and we came back. The right at the end it was neck and neck and we were both battling, scoring points. It was definitely a tough match and those are the ones that you need to win. We get to train against these teams back in the US and we just fight and grovel and I think we make each other better.”
Sunny Roman skies bathed the Foro Italico again Thursday as 96 two-person teams representing 31 countries started the competition Monday on five purpose-built courts within the sprawling complex that includes the featured center court within the newly constructed 10,000-seat tennis stadium.
All 16 of the losing teams on Thursday finished tied for 17th place and each will split $7,000 in prize money.
In a short break from action on the courts Thursday, the FIVB officially launched its new “FIVB Heroes’ campaign with the unveiling of two giant three-dimensional statues, each four meters high (approx. 13 feet), and 727 pounds, of FIVB Heroes three-time FIVB Swatch World Champion and two-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh of the United States and Brazil’s Emanuel Rego, an Olympic champion and two-time World Champion. Placed just between the Foro Italico center court and the four outer courts, Walsh and Emanuel participated in a photo session both in front of and on the three-foot high base of the remarkable statues that fit right in with the numerous Roman statues placed throughout the venue.
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.
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