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16 teams advance at Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International

Great Britain's Lucy Boulton, right, smacks the Mikasa against Brazil's Vivian Cunha as Cunha and Taina Lima defeated Boulton and Denise Johnson in pool play Thursday but both teams advanced at the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International in London.

London, Great Britain, August 11, 2011 – Following three games in three days of pool play round robin matches, the original 24-team field was reduced to 16 teams from eleven countries on Thursday for the elimination bracket rounds of the 2011 Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International, a women’s Olympic test event being held through Sunday at the iconic Horse Guards Parade in the heart of central London.

Friday’s action at the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International will feature eight matches in the round of 16 of the single-elimination bracket phase of the tournament with the first session of four matches starting at noon (local time) and the second session of the last four matches beginning at 16.30. On Saturday the quarterfinals will be held, with the semifinals and medal matches on Sunday on the stunning Horse Guards Parade centre court.

In the first session, the schedule will have Mexico’s sixth-seeded Bibiana Candelas/Mayra Garcia vs. China’s 12th-seeded Yuanyuan Ma/Fan Wang, Estonia’s 15th-seeded Anu Ennok/Mari-Liis Graumann vs. Brazil’s 19th-seeded Liliane Maestrini/Angela Vieira, Brazil’s fourth-seeded Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima vs. Puerto Rico’s 13th-seeded Dariam Acevedo/Yarleen Santiago and USA’s third-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross vs. USA’s seventh-seeded Brittany Hochevar/Lisa Rutledge

The schedule for the 16.30 session Friday will have China’s second-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang vs. Canada’s 10th-seeded Kacie MacTavish/Julie Rodrigue, Australia’s eighth-seeded Natalie Cook/Tamsin Hinchley vs. Vanuatu’s 11th-seeded Linline Matauatu/Elwin Miller, Great Britain’s ninth-seeded Lucy Boulton/Denise Johns vs. Canada’s fifth-seeded Heather Bansley/Elizabeth Maloney and Great Britain’s top-seeded Zara Dampney/Shauna Mullin vs. Spain’s 17th-seeded Andrea Garcia Gonzalo/Alejandra Simon.

A special visitor at Thursday’s matches was Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

One of Britain’s all-time great middle-distance runners who won four medals at two Olympic Games, Coe commented: “This venue is the big ticket venue and we have always known from the outset that beach volleyball in Horse Guards Parade, with Buckingham Palace at one end of The Mall and Downing Street at the other, was always likely to be a huge attraction.”

Winning their respective pools with unblemished 3-0 records were teams from six countries. The 24 women’s teams that started the tournament on Tuesday were divided into six pools of four teams each playing three round robin matches over the first three days of the test event to determine the final 16 for single elimination play.

From pool play, the top two teams from each of the six, four-team pools  advanced to the single-elimination bracket rounds with the final 16 teams. Completing the field is the top two third place teams and then two ‘lucky loser’ spots who were the winners of Thursday night’s late two matches held between the other four third-place teams from pool play.

Winning their respective pools following their match victories on Thursday were Great Britain’s Dampney/Mullin, China’s Xue/ Zhang, USA’s Kessy/Ross, Brazil’s Cunha/ Lima, Australia’s Cook/Hinchley and Mexico’s Candelas/Garcia.

In their final pool play victories on Thursday, Great Britain’s Dampney/Mullin needed to come from behind in three sets for the second straight match but held on in a 54-minute match to defeat China’s Ma/Wang, 16-21, 21-18 and 18-16, China’s Xue/Zhang were pushed to the limit as well, having to come from behind to beat Vanuatu’s Matauatu/Miller, 18-21, 21-19, 15-10 in 47 minutes, USA’s Kessy/Ross defeated Canada’s MacTavish/ Rodrigue, 21-11, 21-17 in 33 minutes, Brazil’s Cunha/Lima stopped Great Britain’s Boulton/Johns, 21-17, 21-10 in 33 minutes, Australia’s Cook/Hinchley beat Canada’s Bansley/Maloney, 21-17, 21-11 in 36 minutes and Mexico’s Candelas/Garcia beat USA’s Hochevar/Rutledge, 21-14, 21-18 in 38 minutes.

In the two ‘lucky loser’ matches late Thursday at Horse Guards Parade that both went three sets to finalize the last two spots in the round of 16, Spain’s Garcia Gonzalo/Simon eliminated USA’s 21st-seeded Tealle Hunkus/Heather Lowe while Canada’s MacTavish/Rodrigue beat Greece’s 14th-seeded JoAnna Papageorgiou/Christina Roubanis.

In winning their pool and remaining unbeaten, Great Britain’s Dampney/Mullin struggled against the China’s young Ma, 21, and Wang, 17. After the Chinese won the first set, Dampney/Mullin seemed to catch fire led by Mullin’s blocking and the increasing support of their home country crowd.

“We’ve achieved one of our goals but we’ve still got some way to go with our overall performance,” said Mullin following the victory.

Mullin’s teammate Dampney commented, “We definitely need a bit of a shock it seems to get us into our game. We want to be in the top 16 of the world ranking, but in this competition we want to be on the podium on Sunday.”

USA’s Kessy/Ross, the 2009 FIVB Swatch World Champions, played in very dominating fashion against Canada’s Mactavish/Rodrigue.

Afterwards, Ross commented, “This venue is amazing. It’s my first time to London and hopefully a two-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it’s awesome to be playing here at Horse Guards Parade.  I heard that King Henry VIII used to tilt (joust) here and I can imagine them competing, it’s a competition where you can die. It was tougher today as it’s our third day of competition and our legs were heavy. We had to step up our game in the second set as the Canadians played a better set.”

In other exciting final pool play match on Thursday, Vanuatu’s crowd favorites Miller/Matauatu nearly upset China’s 2008 Olympic bronze medalists Xue/Zhang, but in the end the Chinese fought through losing the first set, won the tight second set and then pulled away to win the tiebreaker set and earn their third win of the tournament to capture their pool. The match was played during an amazing downpour of rain and dry skies as well.

After escaping the grasp of defeat, China’s Zhang reflected, “It’s like a baby face, always changing. It was very tough to play in the rain, the game changes as the ball gets slippery. It was the same at the Beijing Olympics. Now we will train some more before our next match and probably do some sightseeing and go shopping here in London, it’s such a great city and place to visit.”

Many of the teams participating in this week’s London event are regulars on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour calendar that features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, within all five FIVB confederations plus this one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event being held through Sunday at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64m in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.

Being presented by the London 2012 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) in collaboration with the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the British Volleyball Federation, the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International Olympic test event carries with it a special $10,000 total purse.

The venue for this event features a 1,500-seat centre court, but for next August’s London 2012 Olympics a massive 15,000-seat stadium will be built. The event is part of the London Prepares series that features test events for several Olympic sports.

For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, please visit or visit the event website at

  Press Contact - FIVB Press Director Richard Baker,
Email:     Mobile. + 41 79 603 3926 or +44 7714 537 400

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