Stavanger, Norway, June 29, 2011—Following two of three rounds of women’s pool play matches Wednesday, eight teams from five countries are undefeated heading into Thursday’s final round of round-robin pool play as the $600,000 FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011. The world’s top beach volleyball tandems are back at the majestic Vaagen Harbour venue through Sunday as the double-gender event marks the 13th consecutive visit by the world tour with Stavanger hosting its first men’s event in 1999 and its first women’s event in 2002. It is the 10th straight season for that the women’s tour has played in Stavanger.
Germany, Italy and the United States each have two undefeated teams leading their respective pools while also leading pools are teams from Brazil and the Netherlands. While the Netherlands team is 1-1 and leads on tiebreaker results, China also has an undefeated team but is second to a German team in their pool, again based on the tiebreaker systems.
On Thursday, the women will finish pool play with single matches for each team that will determine the 24 teams that will head into the final single-elimination bracket play phase of the tournament on Friday with the women’s semifinals and medal matches to be played on Saturday.
Leading their pools after the first day of round robin play are: Germany’s 17th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, USA’s second-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, USA’s third-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross, Germany’s 13th-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig, Brazil’s fifth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes, Netherland’s sixth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel, Italy’s seventh-seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti, and Italy’s 225th-seeded Daniela Gioria/Giulia Momoli.
Also undefeated but second in Pool D behind Germany’s Goller/Ludwig is China’s fourth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang.
The third of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011 begins with women’s country quota matches on Monday, single elimination qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in the 32-team main draw on Wednesday through Friday. The women’s semifinals and medal matches will be played Saturday with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday as the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The men’s schedule mirrors the women, starting one day later with country quota matches on Tuesday.
In a major seed breakthrough, Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler defeated Brazil’s top-seeded newly crowned FIVB Swatch FIVB World Championships Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, 19-21, 21-16, 15-10 in 47 minutes. Holtwick/Semmler defeated Juliana/Larissa for the second straight time (also in the Beijing Grand Slam three weeks ago, increasing their career record against the Brazilians to 2-4. Holtwick/Semmler started their surprising day by beating Australia’s 16th-seeded Louise Bawden/Becchara Palmer, in another three-set match, 21-19, 22-24, 15-9 in 48 minutes.
With the top three finishers all advancing to the final single-elimination bracket phase, USA’ two-time Olympic champions and three-time world champions May-Treanor/Walsh had a pair of two-set victories over teams from the Netherlands and Germany. USA’s other pool leader, Kessy/Ross continue to enjoy competing in Stavanger with two more two-set wins over teams from Poland and Greece. Kessy/Ross won a gold medal here in 2007, a bronze in 2008, the FIVB Swatch World Championship in 2009 and a ninth place finish last year.
Italy’s rapidly developing Cicolari/Menegatti had a pair of two-set wins over tandems from Great Britain and the Czech Republic while Goller/Ludwig’s twin wins were over tandems from Georgia and Mexico.
USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh, USA’s Kessy/Ross, Germany’s Goller/Ludwig and Italy’s Cicolari/Menegatti all did not lose a set in winning their two pool play main draw matches.
Kessy commented after their second win Thursday, saying “We served well and we sided-out well. The next time we play we have to play better. We are playing against Klapalova-Hajeckova. We are going to watch a video of them. We have only played against them once before so it will be interesting but we have played well in Stavanger and have a lot of confidence playing here.”
In Pool F, all four teams have 1-1 records, but Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel lead on tie-breakers.
The talented field also includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as the last five women’s gold medalists in Stavanger and the last three men’s gold medal winners at the extremely popular event and venue.
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold, with silver going to their Brazilian compatriots Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes, the bronze to USA’s Nicole Branagh/Misty May-Treanor and fourth place to Czech Republic’s Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Stavanger were Germany’s David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (gold), Norway’s Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr (silver), USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (bronze) and Spain’s Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera (fourth place).
Misty May-Treanor has reunited this season with her long-time teammate, Kerri Walsh, and the two-time Olympic champions and three-time FIVB Swatch World Champions will be among the favorites in this week’s tournament. Branagh is playing this season with Angie Akers and they were eliminated in a country-quota playoff match on Monday.
A total of 170 teams from 41 countries (94 men’s teams from 34 countries and 76 women’s teams from 30 countries) are participating in the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011—Angola, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Venezuela.
The 2011 calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, 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 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with two more Grand Slam double-gender events: 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.
The FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011 is the 224th women’s event and 263rd men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first men’s FIVB Swatch World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For information on the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, please visit the event website at www.wtstavanger.com.