Moscow, Russia, June 28, 2012—Teams from host country Russia, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands and Switzerland all opened with first-round women’s country pool play wins Thursday during the opening day of the double-gender 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament where two teams from each gender will emerge with spots in the field of 24 for next month’s 2012 London Olympic Games.
With the road to London clearly before them, 22 teams representing 11 countries have two women’s teams each in Moscow this week as the women played the first round of pool play for two pools, one with six countries and one with five.
While four European and one North American team won on Thursday, China received a bye for the first round of round-robin play. In their first country match-up, Russia’s two teams defeated two teams from Venezuela, 2-0, Italy needed a golden set win to defeat Uruguay 2-1, Mexico overcame Mozambique, 2-0, Netherlands toppled Kazakhstan, 2-0 and Switzerland won over Kenya, 2-0.
Overall 46 teams representing 17 countries have two teams each in Moscow this week competing at Vodny Stadium on the grounds of the Royal Yacht Club on the banks the Moscow River,
In this unique-format country competition, with countries from the same FIVB Confederations split into separate pools, play will continue through Sunday. The top two national federations per gender from this competition will claim the final two berths to the Games, completing the beach volleyball lineup. After pool play, the top two countries in each gender will playoff in a final showdown early Sunday evening for the final two tickets to London.
In Sunday’s finale, the top team from Pool A will play the second place team from Pool B and first from Pool B will meet second from Pool A in each gender with the two winning nations earning qualifying spots for the Olympics. In Pool A for the women are double-tandems from China, Kenya, Uruguay, Italy and Switzerland, while Pool B has teams from Kazakhstan, Mozambique, Venezuela, Russia, Mexico and the Netherlands. Countries with two teams each in both the men and women’s competition are China, Netherlands, Mexico, Russia and Uruguay.
Russia entered the tournament as the host nation while all the other teams except Italy qualified as the second and third place finishers at each of the FIVB Continental Cup Finals. Italy qualified as the fourth place team at the Europe Continental Cup as the CEV was previously selected to fill the field due to the need to have an extra team because the host nation (Russia) is competing in the event, hoping as well to earn a place in the upcoming Olympic Games.
In the Russia vs. Venezuela country match-up, Russia’s Maria Bratkova/Svetlana Popova opened the day on the Vodny center court with a two-set win over Venezuela’s Karlys Mosquera/Frankelina Rodriguez, 21-13, 21-12 in 30 minutes. Russia’s Anastasia Vasina/Anna Vozakova back that win up with a two-set win over Venezuela’s Norisbeth Agudo/Orguidea Vera, 21-7, 21-16 in 29 minutes.
“We are hoping to get the second Olympic spot for Russia here at Vodny Stadium in Moscow, and we are so grateful to the FIVB and Russian Volleyball Federation for staging this event in Russia,” said Vasina following her team’s victory. “After the last week's victory in the CEV Continental Cup here in Moscow as well we got one Olympic ticket. Now it's our chance to join them, so we need to keep playing good beach-volleyball here. The first match wasn't so tough, but there are some very serious teams in our Pool like Netherlands and Mexico, so tomorrow it will not be easy.”
In the only required tie-break golden set in women’s play Thursday, Italy’s Daniela Gioria/Giulia Momoli came from behind and went to overtime to defeat Uruguay’s Fabiana Gomez/Lucia Guigou, 17-15. The golden set was required following a split between the countries in their two matches. Gioria/Momoli won their match in two quick sets over Karina Cardozo/Maria Nieto, 21-9, 21-5 in 24 minutes after compatriots Laura Giombini/Viktoria Orsi Toth had lost to Venezuela’s Gomez/Guigou in three sets, 19-21, 21-15 and 11-15 in 49 minutes.
The teams who won their first pool play matches for their countries on Thursday were Mexico’s Bibiana Candelas/Mayra Garcia and Martha Revuelta/Vanessa Virgen, Netherlands’ Medelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel and Rimke Braakman/Michelle Stiekema along with Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich/Romana Kayser and Ilsabelle Forrer/Anouk Verg-Depre.
With 22 countries having earned spots in the 24-team Olympic field for each gender, the official country nominations for individual teams will be announced on July 9 by the FIVB.
The beach volleyball competition in the 2012 London Olympic Games will be held in a purpose-built 15,000-seat stadium at the iconic Horse Guards Parade in central London from July 28 through August 9.
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