FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Moscow Grand Slam | 26 - 31 May 2015

#MoscowGS


Press release

Women’s Moscow Grand Slam Adds Eight Qualifying Teams


After a disappointing Monday, Chantal Laboureur (left) and Julia Sude of Germany took advantage of their "luck".

Moscow, Russia, May 26, 2015 - The women’s Moscow Grand Slam kicked off here Tuesday with 24 elimination matches to set the field for Wednesday’s open two rounds of pool play on the sand at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Center as tandems from eight countries earned a berth in the “money” rounds.

The first “big” event on the 2015 FIVB World Tour, the US$800,000 Moscow Grand Slam is the fourth stop for women on the 2015 FIVB World Tour calendar as the world’s top players have competed the past two weeks in Switzerland (Lucerne) and the Czech Republic (Prague) after opening the season last month in Fuzhou, China.

Headlining Tuesday’s qualifiers were “lucky losers” Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude, who were initially eliminated Monday afternoon from the competition in the German country quota playoffs.  However, Laboureur and Sude entered the qualifier due to their FIVB technical ranking after a late withdrawal of a team from Sweden to complete the 32-team bracket.

With a second change, Laboureur and Sude eliminated pairs from South Africa and Russia to advance to the Moscow Grand Slam Main Draw.  “We are alive and playing,” said Sude after her second match Tuesday.  “Yes, I am feeling very lucky,” said Laboureur.

Instead of receiving no points for entering the Moscow Grand Slam, Laboureur and Sude are now guaranteed 160 points as a team.  Points are valuable as this week’s event is part of the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifying process.  Laboureur and Sude entered this week with 990 points by placing second, fifth and ninth in the first three “Open” events this season.

Also surviving the qualifier was Jami Broder and Kristina Valjas of Canada.  Entering this week’s action, the Canadians pace the women’s international circuit with 1,080 points after winning the season opening event in China (Fuzhou) and placed third two weeks ago in Switzerland (Lucerne).  Broder and Valjas placed 17th last week in the Czech Republic (Prague).

Other qualifying teams were third-seeded Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska of Poland, eighth-seeded Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen of Finland, 10th-seeded Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland, 11th-seeded Jennifer Fopma/Summer Ross of the United States, 12th-seeded Carolina Horta/Liliane Maestrini of Brazil, and 29th-seeded Irina Abbaszade/Vivian Cunha of Azerbaijan.

Host Russia will be seeking its first-ever women’s Moscow medal as teams from Brazil (two golds, seven podiums), China (three golds, five podiums) and the United States (two golds, five podiums) have dominated the medal picture.  The Russian capital is hosting the women on the FIVB World Tour for the eighth-time.

Americans April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings are the defending champions after defeating Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima of Brazil 2-1 (21-17, 22-24, 15-13) in the 52-minute gold medal match last year.  The bronze was netted by Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands, who scored a three-set victory over Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo of Spain in the third-place contest.

Three 2014 “final four” pairs return this year while Talita is competing with Larissa Franca and Lima was ousted Monday in the country quota matches.  Larissa topped the 2009 Moscow women’s podium with Juliana Felisberta, who is competing this week with Maria Antonelli.  Juliana and Antonelli were the top team on the 2014 FIVB World Tour while Talita and Larissa formed their partnership mid-way through last season and teamed for four gold medals.

Competing for Russia this week are Ekaterina Khomyakova Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova, Olga Motrich/Daria Rudykh and Maria Prokopeva/Ekaterina Syrtseva.  Khomyakova Birlova and Ukolova have netted Russia’s only two women’s gold medal finishes on the FIVB World Tour by capturing the 2012 Austrian Grand Slam in Klagenfurt and the 2013 Anapa Open with Ekaterina Khomyakova.

After this week’s event, the FIVB World Tour’s first “Major Series” stops are set for Croatia (Pore?, June 1-7) and Norway (Stavanger, June 8-14) before international circuit crosses the Atlantic for the final world championship “tune up” in the United States for the St. Petersburg Grand Slam in Florida (June 15-21).

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