FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Cincinnati Open | 17 - 21 May 2016


Press release

Ross & Walsh Jennings’ crowning event in 'The Queen City'

Canadian Sarah Pavan (left) sets the Mikasa at last August's ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball in southern California as American Olympian April Ross follows the action at the FIVB World Tour stop in Long Beach.

Lausanne, May 16, 2016 - While the listing of the top 15 teams on the women’s provisional ranking for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will remain the same at this week’s US$150,000 Cincinnati Open presented by AVP, the moment among the leaders will be the focus as Americans April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings finally meet the qualification requirement to compete in the Copacabana quadrennial.

With a team needing to participate in 12 FIVB World Tour and/or continental championships during the Rio qualifying period that started in April 2015, Ross and Walsh Jennings’ crowning event will be in Cincinnati, which was nicknamed in 1854 as the "Queen City" in the 1854 poem Catawba Wine by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Ross and Walsh Jennings are currently listed No. 4 on the provisional ranking list that excludes two highly-regarded pairs from Brazil with 5,290 points.  With their first serve in the Cincinnati Open, the current version of American’s “Queens of Beach Volleyball” will add 120 points to their to improve to 5,410 points.

With Brazilians Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca (host country berth, 6,940 Olympic qualifying points) and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas (2015 FIVB world champions, 6,870) all, but assured the top two seeds in the Rio 2016 Summer Games, the other top-ranked pairs on the provisional listing are seeking to fill the other top four spots in the 24-team Copacabana field.


Canadians Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan (5,520 point) are ranked ahead of Ross Walsh Jennings on the Rio list by 260 points and will be competing in the Cincinnati Open along with four other pairs among the top 15 teams on the provisional table, including Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas of Canada (4,640), Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez of Spain (4,430), Lauren Fendrick/Brook Sweat (4,410) of the United States and Fan Wang/Yuan Yue of China (4,090).

Volleyball "Her" Way by Canadian Heather Bansley

In all likelihood, Bansley and Pavan will improve their Rio point total by at least 20 points with a 17th-place or higher finish in the Cincinnati Open.  A fourth-place finish by the Canadians and a silver medal for Ross and Walsh Jennings in Cincinnati would tie the two teams on the Copacabana list.  If the two teams meet in the “Queen City” finale, both pairs would move ahead of Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands (5,620 points) with Bansley and Pavan still ranked ahead of the Americans by 50 point.

The other two interesting “Road to Rio” notes has Wang and Yue trying to improve their No. 15 spot on the provisional list.  The Chinese pair needs a quarter-final placement or higher to increase their total as Wang and Yue are currently 10 points behind Argentina’s Ana Gallay and Georgina Klug (4,100) and 260 points ahead of No. 16 Ekaterina Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova of Russia (3,830).

Fan Wang (left) and Yuan Yue of China

The Argentineans withdrew late from Cincinnati due to a hip injury for Gallay at last week’s Antalya Open in Turkey where the South American pair placed fourth to add 110 points to their Rio provisional total that moved them ahead of the Chinese.

With Fendrick and Sweat not playing in the last two FIVB World Tour events in Russia (Sochi) and Turkey, Emily Day and Jen Kessy (3,980 Rio points) had an opportunity, but failed move closer to their American rivals for the country’s No. 2 spot on the provisional Olympic list.  Both teams need to reach the Cincinnati quarter-finals to improve their ranking totals as Day and Kessy are 430 points behind Fendrick and Sweat with three events remaining.


To qualify for the Olympics, a team must compete together in at least 12 FIVB World Tour events and/or recognized Continental championships from January 2015 through June 13, 2016.  A team’s best 12 finishes will be used to determine a tandem’s ranking.

Five pairs for each gender’s Olympic competition will qualify via Continental Cup action where each FIVB confederation is guaranteed a berth in the Rio 2016 Summer Games.  The last qualifying event will be July 6-10 when Russia hosts the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament in Sochi.  The top two tandems from each gender from the Continental Cup qualifier will earn the last two pairs in the 24-team Olympic competitions.


Brazil has already qualified two teams in each gender’s competition for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  Two pairs from the South American country captured the gold medals at the 2015 FIVB World Championships last July in The Hague (Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Agatha/Barbara) to secure Copacabana berths.  Being the host of the Rio Summer Games, Brazil was also guaranteed two teams in the 24-team men’s and women’s fields (Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg and Talita/Larissa).

With all that said, Brazilian pairs cannot qualify another team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games through the FIVB World Tour.  Therefore, the ranking list excludes Brazilians in the ranking order as Talita/Larissa (6,940) and Agatha/Barbara (6,870) rank 1-2 on the women’s provisional list.  Alison/Bruno (7,050 points) and Evandro Pedro (6,130) are the top two teams on the men’s provisional points list for Rio.


European players also can improve their Olympic point total at the CEV continental championships June 1-5 in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.  A team can count their best finish from their continent’s championships during the Olympic qualifying period.

Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, who won last week’s Antalya Open by defeating Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen of Finland in the finals, are the reigning European champions and are counting last August’s Klagenfurt gold medal finish among their top 12 finishes on the Rio provisional list.  Ludwig and Walkenhorst are the No. 1-rank foreign team on the 2016 Olympic ranking list with 6,000 points followed by Meppelink and Van Iersel, who were the 2014 European champions.

Madelein Meppelink (left) and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands 


The last three FIVB World Tour stops during the qualifying process for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are double gender tournaments highlighted by US$800,000 FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stop in Moscow followed by the newly-named Hamburg Major.

May 17-22 - Cincinnati (United States) Open
May 24-29 - Moscow (Russia) Grand Slam
June 7-12 - Hamburg (Germany) Major

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