USA's John Hyden, left, and Tri Bourne set a new standard for the FIVB World Tour in Shanghai by advancing to pool play via 'lucky loser' and winning their pool with a 3-0 record, finished ninth and are in the main draw at the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open.
Lausanne, Switzerland, May 5, 2014 - Statistically speaking, the world’s best beach volleyball players are giving fans and developing players worldwide plenty to talk about as the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) has launched the second year of the next Olympic cycle with its 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. This week, the FIVB World Tour travels to Mexico following two season-opening tournaments in China for this week’s double-gender US$150,000 FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open.
Here are some more ‘tasty nuggets’ to chew on around the net heading to this week’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour stop in Puerto Vallarta:
• Italy wins again – Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai repeated as gold medalists in Shanghai after winning their first FIVB World Tour title last week in Fuzhou. While this isn’t uncommon, the last time a men’s team repeated as champion on the World Tour was Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal of the United States at the Rome and Gstaad Grand Slams in June and July of 2012.
• Lucky losers win their pool – John Hyden/Tri Bourne of the United States made it into the main draw after Brazil’s Alvaro Filho/Ricardo Santos withdrew, an instance known as being “lucky losers.” The American duo used their good fortune to go through pool play with a perfect 3-0 record, winning their pool. However, their luck finally ran out in the elimination round, losing to Michal Kadziola/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland to finish ninth. While lucky losers occur frequently when main draw teams drop out, Hyden/Bourne are the first to finish their pool undefeated.
• Qatar continues its success – Buoyed by its 9th place finish last week after receiving a wild card entry, Tiago Santos/Jefferson Santos Pereira made it official this week by qualifying for the main draw, the first ever for the Middle-Eastern nation. However, the team couldn’t improve on its performance last week, losing in the first round of the elimination round to finish 17th.
• Men’s Qualifier Success – while the women’s qualifier teams had troubles in Fuzhou, the men’s qualifier teams flourished in Shanghai. Helped by the addition of the “lucky loser,” eight of the nine qualifier teams made the elimination round. This is only the third time that many qualifiers have finished in the top 24, with the last time occurring in Stare Jablonki in 2010 and the first in Cape Town in 2005. Both of those events also had a “lucky loser” making nine qualifying teams for each.
• Laura Ludwig finally gets her gold – Laura Ludwig’s gold medal performance in Shanghai was her first after 101 FIVB World Tour entries and nine World Tour gold-medal match losses. Before her win, she had the most silver medals of any player without winning gold. Seven of those losses were with her long-time partner Sara Goller, who now holds that distinction, and the other two were with her current partner, Kira Walkenhorst.
• German women end losing streak – Germany’s win over China in the gold-medal match was the first in a women’s FIVB World Tour event for that nation over China after three previous silver medals. Had Brazil been the opponents in the finals instead, the German women fair no better, losing 10 out of eleven previous World Tour gold-medal matches to the South American nation with only Stephanie Pohl/Okka Rau defeating Maria Antonelli/Vanilda Leao in Marseille, France in July of 2008 as the lone victory.
• China’s continued women’s success – While China only placed one team in the top five this week, another new team stepped up to each gain their inaugural podium finish. While neither Fan Wang nor Yuan Yue is new to the FIVB World Tour, (Fan has 28 previous World Tour entries, and Yuan has 46), they continue a string of seven different Chinese women’s teams to stand on the podium since 2006. This ranks third to only FIVB World Tour powers Brazil who has placed 13 new teams on the podium and the United States who has placed 11 during that time frame and ties Germany who also has seven during that span.
• Brazilian women fail to make the finals in Shanghai– Powerhouse Brazil has sent two women’s teams to the FIVB World Tour semifinals 148 times, over 50% more than the United States, who ranks second with 90. Of those 148 final fours, this was just the 29th time that neither team failed to make the gold-medal match, but the second time it has happened in the last four events, with both Brazilian teams relegated to playing for the bronze medal in the Phuket event last season. FIVB 2014
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland as the international governing body for the Olympic sports of Beach Volleyball and Volleyball, the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries. This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 11 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.
The 10 FIVB Grand Slam competitions, all double-gender, have eight with $800,000 in total purses while both The Hague, Netherlands and the Long Beach, Calif., USA event will have $1 million each in prize money, the most in FIVB Grand Slam history.
The 11 FIVB Open tournaments in 2014, seven double-gender, two men only and two women only, will have $150,000 total purses for the double gender events and $75,000 for the single-gender competitions.