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Minds focused as Stavanger Grand Slam enters glory stage

Janis Smedins (left) and Aleksandrs Samoilovs are facing three matches in three days in Stavanger
Stavanger, Norway, June 27, 2014 – In the Stavanger Grand Slam men’s draw the jostling is over and teams now know exactly what they have to do if they want to taste success in Norway after the pool stage concluded on Friday.

A number of the leading teams will have to win three matches on Saturday, including FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour champions Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins, FIVB Beach Volleyball world champions Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer, as well as leading Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt. 

Those who topped their pools can rest easy to some extent knowing that they face only two matches to reach the semifinals, but that their rivals will have the chance to build some much-needed momentum. 

In the women’s tournament the sides are down to the last four. First time semifinalists Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova take on Olympic medallists April Ross and Kerri Walsh and then European champions Marleen van Iersel and Madelein Meppelink take on a team they know very well in Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo. 

Rosey and Phil still striving for improvement at Stavanger Grand Slam

Sean Rosenthal and Phil Dalhausser may have finished pool play unbeaten at the Stavanger Grand Slam, but the pair is still aiming to find their best form as the elimination rounds draw into view. 

The duo are chasing their first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold medals of 2014, though Dalhausser has previously won one gold and two bronze medals from prior visits to Norway’s south-west coast.

“The game today was good for me and Phil,” Rosenthal said. “We scored a lot of points, but we still have to clean up our side outs. There are some places in between where we lose some rallies, but for the most part we played well and we were scoring points and when we are doing that, we are hard to beat.”

First-time semifinalists Dubovcova and Nestarcova on course for taste of glory 

Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova reached new heights after they beat Wang Fan and Yue Yuan in the Stavanger Grand Slam quarterfinals to reach their first ever World Tour semi final.The Slovakian’s win sets up a clash against number one seeds April Ross and Kerri Walsh of the USA.

In the second semifinal Dutch duo Madelein Meppelink and Marleen van Iersel take on Spain’s Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo.

The match was the first time the Slovakians had met the Chinese on the World Tour, but they played Ross and Walsh a week ago in the second elimination round of the Berlin Grand Slam. 

“We played them last week and we played pretty well, but it was the first time we played against them,” Dubovcova said. “We knew they are the best team in the world, so we were a little bit scared maybe, but now we know what they can do so we will try our best.”

The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Stavanger Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 25 until Sunday June 29. It is the eighth event and the fourth 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 Gstaad Grand Slam which runs from July 9-13.

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