Stavanger, Norway, July 1, 2011—Reflecting a mixture of veteran talent with savvy experience as well as raw strength with youthful talent, three rounds of round-robin pool play ended with the final round Friday, determining the final 24 teams for the men’s elimination rounds that begin Saturday at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems, all competing in the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour are back at the majestic Vaagen Harbour venue in Norway 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.
With the original 32-team men’s main draw field split into four-team pools for two days of round-robin pool play, teams from eight countries won the eight pools---Brazil, China, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and Russia.
Saturday will be an extremely busy and significant day on the Vaagen Harbour center court the women’s semifinals and medal matches while the men will have three elimination rounds as well before their semifinals and medal matches are played on Sunday.
Winning their pools and earning the bye in the first round of elimination play are: top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (Pool J), Netherland’s 18th-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schull (Pool K), Russia’s 14th-seeded Yaroslav Koshakarev/Kanstanin Semenov (Pool L), Poland’s 13th-seeded Grzegoroz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (Pool M), Germany’s fifth-seeded David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (Pool N), Spain’s sixth-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera (Pool O), China’s eighth-seeded Penggen Wu/Linyin Xu (Pool P) and Norway’s ninth-seeded Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr (Pool Q).
Of the eight pool winners, Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel, Netherland’s Nummerdor/Schuil, Russia’s Koshkarev/Semenov, Germany’s Klemperer/Koreng and Spain’s Gavira/Herrera were undefeated with 3-0 records in pool play.
China’s Wu/Xu, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudell and Norway’s Eithun/Hoidalen were all 2-1 and won their pools via tie-breakers as each had at least one other team in their respective pools had the same record.
Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel, the newly crowned FIVB Swatch World Champions, and Klepmerer/Koreng, who won the gold medal in Stavanger last year, are the only men’s teams who ended pool play without losing a set, going 6-0 for their three wins in pool play.
With pool play finished, the remaining top three teams in each pool advance to the final elimination bracket rounds that being Saturday with the eight pool winners have 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.
In a major seed breakthrough during Friday’s men’s pool play, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel enjoyed the atmosphere of the Vaagen Harbour center court and defeated Germany’s fourth-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann, 21-15, 21-16 in 42 minutes. Brink/Reckermann advanced with their 2-1 record to the single-elimination rounds with a second-place pool position behind Fijalek/Prudel.
Bouncing back from their loss Thursday to Netherland’s Nummerdor/Schull, USA’s second-seeded Olympic champions Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers battled through another three setter, this one on center court, and overcame Switzerland’s 15th-seeded Jefferson Bellaguarda/Patrick Heuscher, 17-21, 21-19 and 15-9 in 51 minutes. The Americans finished pool play in second place at 2-1 behind the undefeated Nummerdor/Schull.
“The Swiss are a very good team and we haven’t played them very much,” said Rogers afterwards. “With Phil’s ankle injury, we haven’t been able to practice since Rome so we aren’t as crisp as we should be at this time in the season. I was doing a little more ‘coaching’ during the match today to help us adjust but Phil is playing as hard as he can and made some great plays. We have had to make adjustments with teams serving me more, but overall we’re doing pretty well all things considered.”
The third of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011 began with women’s country quota matches on Monday and 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 main draw pool play started Thursday. Silver medalists in each gender will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishers will receive $18,400.
In a crowd-pleasing match on the Vaagen Harbour center court, Norway’s Eithun/Hoidalen kept the Norwegian fans that filled the stadium on their feet by defeating Brazil’s seventh-seeded Benjamin Insfran/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, 21-16 and 21-19 in 43 minutes. The win also secured the Pool P win for them and the bye in the first round of Saturday’s elimination play.
In an even more crowd-charming match that ended pool play Friday evening was Norway’s ninth-seeded Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr China’s eighth-seeded Penggen Wu/Linyin Xu, 24-22, 15-21 and 15-10 in a 47-minute stunner. It was the Norwegians first win over the talented Chinese team after losing twice, on in Sanya, China in 2009 and then two weeks ago in pool play at the FIVB Swatch World Championships in Rome. The Chinese, who also ended pool play with a 2-1 record like the Norwegians, won the pool via tiebreaker rules.
The talented field 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.
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).
All of last year’s final four group have advanced out of pool play this year to Saturday’s single-elimination bracket play.
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.