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Former basketball star upsets top seeded Russian team

Former basketball star Kelly Schumacher (left) and Summer Ross upset Russia's first seeded Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova
Moscow, Russia, August 22, 2013 – USA’s Kelly Schumacher crowned her debut on the FIVB World Tour with a surprise win over top seeded Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova at the Moscow Grand Slam on Thursday.

With her new partner Summer Ross, 35-year old Schumacher defeated the Russian team 2-1 (21-17 14-21 19-17) in the first pool play match of the day. Schumacher made a remarkable switch from professional basketball to beach volleyball.

The centre/power forward played in the women’s NBA (WNBA) for eight seasons and represented the USA in 2000.

Retired from the WNBA in 2009

Since she retired from the WNBA in 2009 she has been pursuing a career in beach volleyball. But she has been a bit unlucky with the suspension of the AVP in 2010. So Schumacher had to wait a few years until she could make her international beach volleyball debut.

But now, with only one and a half week practice with Ross, who finished 4th at the Long Beach Grand Slam with Emily Day this year, she could not have dreamed of a better start. “She is still undefeated”, 20-year old Ross pointed out.

“It was a tough match though”, Schumacher said. “They are a really good team. This is my first FIVB event so I really don’t know what to measure it to yet. But we just tried to come out hard and play as well as we could and it paid off.”

Lots of rallies and match points

After one set each, the tiebreak brought forth some spectacular rallies. In the end the USA team warded off a couple of Russian match points to claim victory at their first. “We just never gave up, served tough”, Schumacher said. “In the second set we started letting up on our serve a little bit. We tried to focus on that in the third and it helped us out.”

The former basketball star, who by the way played for Dynamo Moscow in 2007, came to Moscow without any expectations. “I did not know what to expect, but I know this is the only event that I can play this year. I want to make it the best and kind of show what I can do.”

Because she was not sure if she would get the opportunity to play professional beach volleyball this year and the AVP did not start till August, she signed a short term basketball contract in Spain.

“I am supposed to play professional basketball again in September. So I won’t be able to play the rest of the summer. And now I am kicking myself a little bit, because I have a great opportunity, with a great player, but hopefully next season.”

Old love

Schumacher says beach volleyball is an old love. “I started playing beach volleyball in high school and I really loved it, but I was already kind of in the basketball scene. So I got drafted for the WNBA, but I always wanted to play beach volleyball when I was done with my basketball career. Because there is something about beach volleyball, I just love it, it’s better than any sports.”

At the age of 35 she is still set on a professional career in beach volleyball. “That’s my number one priority. I really want to take this one further. But I need a young gun, like her, to carry me along.”

FIVB Moscow Grand Slam Tournament Page

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