Home town delights as Ukolova and Prokopeva progress in Moscow
The pair who are seeded ninth in Moscow beat Canada’s Jamie Lynn Broder and Kristina Valjas 2-0 (21-13, 21-14) to book their place in the second elimination round.
“We’re very happy to have won the pool because it wasn’t an easy pool,” Ukolova said.
“It is always tough in the main draw and this season all the teams are all around the same level, so we are really pleased to have finished top and guaranteed a ninth-place finish. Now we will just wait to find out who our next opponents are.”
The pair recently won silver at the Anapa Open to go with the gold medals on Russia’s Black Sea coast in 2013.
For Ukolova in particular there is particular importance to showing her full potential in Moscow as she hails from the Russian capital.
“Of course it is great to play in Moscow because it is my home town,” Ukolova added. “I have to thank all the fans because today there was a lot of rain and a strong wind but they stayed in the stands and kept cheering us on.”
Last year’s bronze medallists Elsa Baquerizo McMillan and Liliana Fernandez Steiner also wrapped up pool play with three wins from three.
They ensured that they go straight to the second elimination round by beating Russia’s Ekaterina Syrtseva and Alexandra Shiryaeva 2-0 (21-17, 21-15).
“It is the first time this season we’ve topped the group, so it is a good sensation,” Baquerizo McMillan said. “We played them in the European Championships last week and we had to beat them to finish fifth and it was a tough match, so we had to be concentrated today.”
So far in 2014 they have won a number of national tour events before they reached the quarterfinals of the CEV European Championships last week.
The pair won their first World Tour medals when claiming bronze in Moscow a year ago and while they have twice won silvers at FIVB Open events, they are aiming to add to their collections in 2014.
“It has been the best start to the season in our five years on the World Tour,” Baquerizo McMillan said. “Our goals are getting higher and we are trying to be more consistent and starting strongly, so we started very well this year and I hope we maintain our game.”
“We want to get another one of course, but not just because it is here,” Fernandez Steiner added. “We’d love to repeat our podium finish from last year.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Moscow Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 11 through to Sunday June 15. It is the sixth event and the second Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Berlin Grand Slam which runs from June 17-22.