FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Cincinnati Open | 17 - 21 May 2016

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Press release

Baquerizo/Fernandez hoping to keep good things going at Cincinnati Open


With dreams of Brazil and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games embedded in their minds, Spain's Elsa Baquerizo, left and Liliana Fernandez won their opening pool play match Wednesday at the FIVB Cincinnati Open in Mason, Ohio.

Mason, Ohio, USA, May 18, 2016 – Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez were just as excited as the rest of the world when the 2016 FIVB World Tour got underway in Brazil in February.

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Cincinnati Open
Main draw results - Men
Main draw results - Women

They just happened to forget to set their alarm clock.

In a year in which the Rio 2016 Olympic Games loomed on the horizon, players trained harder than ever before in preparation for the qualifying run. Baquerizo and Fernandez found out the hard way that this cycle of qualifying would be a little different than the one that sent them to the London 2012 Games.

They arrived in Brazil for the Maceio Open and were bounced out after losing three times in four matches. They hit the Rio Grand Slam and went 0-for-3, then traveled back north to the Vitoria Open and again went 0-3.

For a team that was in the thick of the hunt for Olympic qualification, they began to wonder what the heck was going on.

“We were kind of worried in Brazil,” Fernandez said. “Everybody was saying, ‘What’s up, what’s up?’ ”

Deep down, they knew.

“We normally don’t start that soon, so we kind of in the middle of our preseason,” Baquerizo said. “We also think Brazil was good to realize we needed to push a little more in the training. That made a big change and that’s what we needed.

“A lot of teams had to be very prepared from the beginning because they had to qualify. You could see everybody was ready. It’s very hard.”

A little soul-searching, a little more training, a little more focus and a month between tournaments appears to be all they needed. The resumed their FIVB World Tour schedule at the Fuzhou Open in China and placed ninth to pick up some badly needed points.

They continued their revitalization at the Sochi Open in Russia and reached the gold medal match. They fell to fourth-seeded Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland in a three-game final, but not before they knocked off top-seeded Karla Borger and Britta Buthe along the way.

So in two open tournaments, they had suddenly racked up 690 points after compiling only 460 in the previous three events, which included the point-heavy Grand Slam.

Baquerizo and Fernandez opened play in the FIVB Cincinnati Open, hosted by the Association of Volleyball Professionals, with a 22-20, 21-17 victory Wednesday over Kristyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova of the Czech Republic. The Spaniards had trailed, 20-18 in the opening set.

“We needed more intensity on training and focus more in competition,” Fernandez said. “I think we did great. We were enjoying it so much in Fuzhou and Sochi. We were enjoying playing. It’s attitude, so that and intensity in training is what really changed.”

After Cincinnati, they’ll have three grand opportunities to keep improving. They’ll play the Moscow Grand Slam, the European Championships, and the Hamburg Major. Entering this week, they ranked 13 th among the women in qualifying points, but that’s a spot that leaves them vulnerable for teams wanting to sneak past them.

“We still have time to make progress, get some points and get good results, so we would like to get a little higher,” Baquerizo said.

“There’s always a lot to improve,” Fernandez said. “We always have to keep on working on little things, be more consistent. The more consistent you are, the better.”


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