Moscow, Russia, June 30, 2012 - With tickets to London dangling in front of them, women’s teams from China, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia will meet Sunday in Moscow at the double-gender 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament where two teams from each gender will emerge with the final 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 had two women’s teams each in Moscow this week as the women played four or five rounds of pool play for two pools, one with six countries and one with five.
Italy will meet Netherlands and Russia will challenge China at Vodny Stadium for the last two berths for London on Sunday. Italy won pool A with a 4-0 record, the Netherlands was second in pool B with a 4-1 record while Russia won pool B with a 5-0 mark and China was second in pool A with a 3-1 record.
In this unique-format country competition, with countries from the same FIVB Confederations split into separate pools, play ends on 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 are meeting in a final showdown Sunday for the final two tickets to London.
Overall 47 teams representing 17 countries have had two teams each among the men and women teams competing in Moscow this week competing at Vodny Stadium on the grounds of the Royal Yacht Club on the banks the Moscow River.
Italy’s Daniela Gioria/Giulia Momoli and Laura Giombini/Viktoria Orsi Toth needed a golden set to win over Switzerland’s Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich/Romana Kayser to win pool A. Gioria/Momoli defeated Forrer/Verge-Depre, 21-16, 21-19 in 37 minutes before Heidrich/Kayser beat Giombini/Orsi Torth, 15-21, 21-12 and 15-13 in 49 minutes. In their third golden set victory of the tournament, Gioria/Momoli clinched their Sunday match with a 19-17 win in 18 minutes over Forrer/Verge-Depre.
“It was very important to be first in our pool and we did it,” said Momoli. “We tried to start fast and we did at 7-3 in the golden set against Switzerland but they tied us up at 10-10 and we just sided out a little better and got the win. We really like the golden set and we won three of them so far here in Moscow. Daniela and I really, really like this format and would be happy to play it again sometime but for now we want to just give it our best shot for London against the Dutch and have another Italian team in the Olympics.”
Russia’s Maria Bratkova/Svetlana Popova and Anastasia Vasina/Anna Vozakova advanced by winning twice on Saturday, first a golden set win over Mexico and then a forfeit victory over Netherlands to win pool B.
It's always pity when somebody gets injured,” said Vozakova after her team’s win where Mexico’s Mayra Garcia was forced to retire with muscle cramps. “We wanted to win but not in such a way. I wish to Mayra the fastest recovery. Of course, we are happy to book a place in in Sunday’s match, but this injury is a black point in this story. We were ahead 4-3 in the golden set but the set and match could have gone either way. We are just happy to be able to have this one last match-up against China for our country to have another team in the Olympic Games.”
Second in pool A, China’s Yuanyuan Ma/Changning Zhang and China’s Wang Fang/Yuan Yue won twice on Saturday, first defeating Uruguay 2-0 before beating Kenya 2-0.
Second in pool B, Netherlands’ Medelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel and Rimke Braakman/Michelle Stiekema defeated Mozambique 2-0 on Saturday before an injury forfeit loss to Russia.
Besides the four Sunday teams, the other women’s teams who earned participation in the tournament in Moscow and their final records were Mexico (3-2), Switzerland (2-2), Uruguay (2-2), Kazakhstan (2-3), Venezuela (1-4), Kenya (0-4) and Mozambique (0-4). Countries who had 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.
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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