Halifax, Canada, September 1, 2011 – Playing the first two of three main draw pool play matches Thursday, the world’s best young-adult women’s tandems are enjoying the Halifax Harbor sunshine, soothing summer breezes and the heated competition at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Junior World Championships for players under the age of 21.
This year’s 11th annual double-gender event started Wednesday in Halifax, a regional municipality of over 300,000 residents located in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada.
The world championship event is being held through Sunday at the purpose-built beach volleyball complex on the Salter Lot of the Halifax Waterfront. This is the first time in the event’s 11-year history that it is being held in North America. The event features live video streaming from the SEA center court at www.sandjamhalifax.ca.
With 24 teams divided into six four-team pools, eight teams are 2-0 after the first day of pool play. Finishing undefeated after the first day of pool play are two teams from Germany and one each from Brazil, China, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the United States. Ticket information is available through the event website at www.sandjamhalifax.ca and they are on sale at the gate. Children, five and under, are free. Gathered in Halifax for this year’s event are 59 teams (28 men and 31 women) from 24 countries.
Round-robin pool play concludes on Friday morning with single-elimination bracket play starting Friday afternoon. The semifinals in each gender will conclude Saturday’s schedule and the medal matches for each gender will be played on Sunday on the SEA center court stadium. The top two teams in each pool along with the best four third place teams will advance to the single-elimination ‘knockout rounds’. After pool play ends Friday, the men and women Round of 16 will be played. Saturday’s schedule will also include the quarterfinals for each gender prior to the semifinals.
Undefeated in pool play are Germany’s fifth-seeded Victoria Bieneck/Cinja Tillmann, Germany’s 24th-seeded Christine Aulenbrock/Isabell Schneider, Brazil’s third-seeded Rebecca Cavalcanti/Carolina Maxima, China’s seventh-seeded Lingling Lin/Changning Zhang, Netherland’s ninth-seeded Sophie van Gestel, Poland’s 13th-seeded Renata Bekier/Daria Paszek, Switzerland’s eighth-seeded Nina Betschart/Joana Heidrich and USA’s second-seeded Tara Roenicke/Rebecca Strehlow.
Because of tiebreakers Germany’s Aulenbrock/Schneider and Switzerland’s Betschart/Heidrich are second in their respective pools with the Germans second to Poland’s Bekier/Paszek and the Swiss second to Germany’s Bieneck/Tillmann.
As the host nation, Canada has three teams in each gender pre-seeded into the main draw and the women’s teams ended Thursday with a 1-5 record. The three women’s teams representing Canada are Victoria Altomare/Melissa Humana-Paredes (0-2 Thursday), Sarah Gosselin/Sara Robichaud (0-2) and Alexandra Hudson/Charlotte Sider (1-1).
Hudson/Sider won their first match of the day over Namibia’s Julia Laggner/Corinna Wahl, 21-12, 21-5 in 25 minutes and lost their second match, also played in front of home-country fans on the SEA center court, to Japan’s Anjiera Ishida, Chiyo Suzuki in a very close three sets, 23-25, 21-16, 14-16 in 50 minutes. Their first match was the quickest of the day and their second was the longest of the day.
USA’s Roenicke, who plays volleyball for Cal State, Long Beach State in Southern California, is the defending FIVB Swatch Junior World Champion after winning the gold medal last year in Alanya, Turkey playing with Summer Ross. This year she is teamed with Rebecca Strehlow, a senior at Long Beach Wilson High School, and the new duo won their first two matches on Thursday.
Surviving three sets in both matches, USA’s Roenicke/Strehlow first defeated Russia’s 23rd-seeded Yulia Balakina/Ksenia Dabizha, 21-16, 19-21 and 15-12 in 41 minutes and ended their day by coming from behind to defeat France’s 14th-seeded Zoe Cazalet/Joanna Mano, 18-21, 21-18 and 15-7 in 42 minutes.
After their second win on Thursday, USA’s Roenicke said “We started really slow in both matches, but overall we’re very happy with the way we played. In both matches we had to decide to come out and play our game. We have only been playing for three weeks together and we did win our one tournament in Hermosa Beach, Calif. for under 23 year old players. We have both already started playing on our indoor teams so we aren’t totally concentrated on beach volleyball, the sport we are both so passionate about.”
Countries represented in Halifax at the 11th anniversary of this event are Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United States and Venezuela.
The gold medal team in each gender will also be rewarded by the FIVB and the respective organizers with wild cards and free transportation to take part in the main draw of a FIVB Swatch World Tour event in 2011 or 2012. A total of 2,000 tons of special sand have been transported to the SEA complex to build the four competition and two practice courts for the venue, which includes the 2,000-seat featured SEA center court.
A founding province of Canada, Nova Scotia is nearly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, and is known for its high tides, lobster, fish, blueberries and apples. Halifax was the site of the first British town in Canada, founded in 1749. Since then, the area has evolved to be home for charming fishing villages, farming communities and Atlantic Canada's largest city. Halifax, the gateway to Atlantic Canada, has flourished as a prominent port city. Halifax was founded in 1749 by Governor Edward Cornwallis and 2,500 settlers to act as a naval and army base to protect the area, creating Canada’s first permanent British town on the world’s second-largest natural harbor. The peninsula, which Halifax is located on, is 4.5 miles wide and two miles long.
Produced by Canada’s Sports and Entertainment Atlantic (SEA) in association with the Canadian Volleyball Federation and under the sanction of the Lausanne, Switzerland-based Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), more event information is available at www.fivb.org or www.sandjamhalifax.ca. The event also has a special Nova Scotia web cam link showing the entire venue at www.novascotiawebcams.com/halifax/sands-at-salter.html.