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12 unbeaten women’s teams at FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open Thursday

Brazil's Maria Antonelli, left, passes the Mikasa to her new partner-the legendary Juliana Felisberta as their team along with compatriots Taiana Lima/Talita Antunes and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas are all 2-0 at the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, May 8, 2014 Three women’s teams from Brazil, two from China and Germany and one each from Greece, Mexico, Netherlands and USA combined to produce 12 undefeated teams Thursday, each winning both of their pool play matches with one remaining on Friday in the 32-team main draw at the double-gender US$150,000 FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open.

With women’s competition going through Sunday on the sensational sands on the purpose built, four-court complex on the picturesque Playa Camarones, the tournament is the third event on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar.

Friday’s exciting schedule includes three rounds of men’s elimination play in addition to the final women’s pool play matches on Playa Camerones in the heart of this Mexican resort city on the Pacific Ocean in the state of Jalisco.

The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) international tour is back in Mexico for the first time since 2006 for its first event in Puerto Vallarta being held on Playa Camarones adjacent to the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort and Convention Center. The FIVB World Tour has had eight previous tour stops in Mexico. Acapulco hosted double-gender events in 1999, 2005 and 2006 and Rosarito hosted one double-gender tour stop in 2000.

Rewarding their home country fans with a pair of pool play victories to help lead the field of unbeaten women’s teams were Mexico’s ninth-seeded Martha Revuelta/Bibiana Candelas who recorded a pair of two-set victories Thursday over teams from Norway and Venezuela. On Friday, the popular Mexican team will finish pool play with a match against Germany’s eighth-seeded Jana Kohler/Anni Schumacher who split their two pool play matches on Thursday.

The other 2-0 teams besides Mexico’s Revuelta/Candelas following Thursday’s twin wins in pool play are Brazil’s top-seeded Taiana Lima/Talita Antunes, Brazil’s second-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Brazil’s 12th-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Maria Antonelli, China’s third-seeded Chen Xue/Xinji Xia, China’s fifth-seeded Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, Germany’s sixth-seeded Isabel Schneider/Teresa Mersmann, Germany’s seventh-seeded Julie Sude/Chantal Laboureur, Argentina's 11th-seeded Ana Gallay/Georgina Klub, Greece’s 16th-seeded Panagiota Karagkouni/Vasiliki Arvaniti, Netherlands’ 15th-seeded Laura Bloem/Marloes Wesselink and USA’s 20th-seeded Heather Hughes/Christal Engle.

Mexico has four teams in the women’s main draw, including Haydee Lopez/Mayra Santacruz who advanced from the qualification tournament.  While Mexico’s Revuelta/Candelas were 2-0, Lopez/Santacruz, Stephanie Burnside/Diana Valdez and Paulette Cruz/Vanessa Virgen all lost both of their first two pool play matches but have one more remaining on Friday to give them possible advancement into the single-elimination rounds.

Mexico’s Candelas commented after her team’s victories Thursday, saying, “At first in both matches we were really nervous because they were our first two matches in the tournament and also because we know we are playing in our country. We will give our very best and hope to have great results on the court and make our country proud. I need to block better and help out Martha who played very well today.  I am living a dream to be able to compete on the FIVB World Tour in a sport I enjoy so much.”

Brazil’s three teams in the women’s main draw were all impressive with a 12-1 record in the sets they played on Thursday in winning their two matches.

Juliana/Antonelli, who are playing their first season together, finished second on Brazil’s national tour this year while Bednarczuk/Seixas were champions and Lima/Antunes finished third.

A seven-time FIVB World Tour season champion, former FIVB World Champion and bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Juliana is as enthusiastic as ever as she enjoys her newest adventure. She reflected after her team’s second win of the day, “We are improving every match and that’s the most important thing right now. Maria’s a very good play but with a different style than Larissa who I played with for so many years. We are playing hard and that is critical as we continue to get used to each other’s style of play. We are focused and just trying to take things one set and one match at a time and develop quickly as a team because a lot of the teams have been together for much longer.”

The FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open is the 300th FIVB men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1987 and the 263rd FIVB women’s tournament since each started play in 1992.

The second of 10 FIVB Open events in 2014, the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open men’s action started Tuesday and goes through Saturday while women’s competition began Wednesday and ends Sunday. The tournament format had a one-day qualification tournament to determine the final eight spots in each gender’s 32-team main draw tournaments followed by round-robin pool play of three matches per team followed by a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams.

The men’s semifinals and medal matches will be held Saturday while the women’s semis and medal matches will be played on Sunday at the purpose-built stadium at Puerto Vallarta’s Playa Camarones.

Mexico is also hosting the Inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball U17 World Championships this year in Acapulco (July 15-20).

The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500. The men medal matches will be held on Saturday and the women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.

Based in Lausanne, Switzerland as the international governing body for the Olympic sports of Beach Volleyball and Volleyball, the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries.  This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 11 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.

The 11 FIVB Open tournaments in 2014, seven double-gender, two men only and two women only, have $150,000 total purses for the double gender events and $75,000 for the single-gender competitions.

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