Stavanger, Norway, June 30, 2011—With two days and three rounds of round-robin pool play completed with the final round Friday identifying the final 24 teams for the women’s elimination rounds that begin Saturday at 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 stop on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour 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.
With the original 32-team women’s main draw field split into eight four-team pools for two days of round-robin pool play, Germany, Italy and the United States each had two undefeated teams winning their respective pools with 3-0 records while also winning their pools were 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.
With pool play finished, the remaining top three teams in each pool advance to the final elimination bracket rounds that begin Friday with the eight pool winners having a first-round bye before taking on the winners of the matches between the various second and third place teams from pool play in the Round of 16. With some remaining teams playing as many as three rounds on Friday through the quarterfinals of the tournament, the semifinals and medal matches will all be held on Saturday on the Vaagen Harbour center court.
Winning their pools and earning the bye in the first round of elimination play are: Germany’s 17th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler (Pool A), USA’s second-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh (Pool B), USA’s third-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross (Pool C), Germany’s 13th-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig (Pool D), Brazil’s fifth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes (Pool E), Netherland’s sixth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel (Pool F), Italy’s seventh-seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti (Pool G), and Italy’s 25th-seeded Daniela Gioria/Giulia Momoli (Pool D).
All of the teams were unbeaten in winning their pools except Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel, who finished at 2-1 and won the pool using the tie-breaker system.
Pool D was the last pool to be decided as Germany’s Goller/Ludwig and China’s fourth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang were both 2-0 entering the final match of the day but the German’s prevailed.
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. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishers will receive $18,400.
After upsetting Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa France in their first pool play match on Thursday, Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler finished round-robin play by defeating Norway’s 32nd-seeded Siri Bjorkesett/Vilde Solvoll, 21-17, 21-16 in 34 minutes. Juliana/Larissa, fresh from winning the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Championship in Rome two weeks ago, won their two other pool play matches to finish second in their Pool and as always, they will be a strong contender in the final single-elimination rounds.
USA’ two-time Olympic champions and three-time world champions May-Treanor/Walsh completed their pool sweep on Thursday by defeating Switzerland’s 15th-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr, 21-8, 21-18 in 25 minutes. USA’s other pool winner, Kessy/Ross continue to enjoy competing in Stavanger, finishing their round-robin sweep win a win over Czech Republic’s Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova, 23-21, 21-17 in 43 minutes. Kessy/Ross won a gold medal here in 2007, a bronze in 2008, the FIVB Swatch World Championship in 2009 and finished ninth last year.
Italy’s rapidly developing Cicolari/Menegatti completed their sweep of pool play Thursday with a win over Norway’s 10th-seeded Ragnhild Aas/Janne Kongshavn, 21-13, 21-17 in 31 minutes. Gioria/Momoli, the second Italian team to win a women’s pool, completed their run by beating Finland’s 24th-seeded Emilia and Erika Nystrom, 21-12, 21-15 in 28 minutes.
Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes blasted through three opponents, ending with Thursday’s win over Brazil’s 12th-seeded compatriots Carolina and Maria Clare Salgado, 21-19, 21-15 in 32 minutes. On Wednesday, Antonelli/Antunes beat teams from Austria and Canada.
Germany’s Goller/Ludwig moved ahead in their career record with China’s Xue/Zhang by defeating them in two sets to end women’s pool play, 21-16, 21-15 in 33 minutes. Goller/Ludwig now lead the head-to-head results with their friendly rivals Xue/Zhang, 5-4.
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 three pool play main draw matches, entering the single-elimination bracket play with 6-0 set results in addition to their 3-0 match records..
In Pool F, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel tied at 2-1 with 27th-seeded Dutch compatriots Roos Van der Hoeven/Jantine Van der Vlist but beat them head-up for the tie-breaker to determine the top finisher in the pool.
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/Larissa won gold, with silver going to their Brazilian compatriots Antonelli/Antunes, the bronze to USA’s Nicole Branagh/Misty May-Treanor and fourth place to Czech Republic’s Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova.
May-Treanor has reunited this season with her long-time teammatei Walsh, and the two-time Olympic champions and three-time FIVB Swatch World Champions are among the favorites in this week’s tournament, especially after their dominating three wins in pool play. 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) were in the original starting field on Monday 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.