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Swiss Setbacks to Dutch Delight

Kinga Kolosinska (left) and Monika Brzostek of Poland posts upset wins Wednesday over pairs from China and Germany.

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 16, 2014 - A pair of teams on the rebound after disappointing FIVB World Tour finishes last week in the Swiss Alps posted two match wins each here Wednesday to highlight the opening pool play rounds for women in the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation.

With the fourth-seeded Spanish team of Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez expected to win their two matches Wednesday over pairs from China and Italy, 24th-seeded Monika Brzostek and Kinga Kolosinska of Poland had to survive qualifying Tuesday to advance to the “money” rounds where they upset higher-ranked pairs from China and Germany.

Brzostek and Kolosinska’s second win Wednesday was a 2-1 (21-17, 14-21 and 15-11) victory in 49 minutes over eighth-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany earned the Poles the top spot in their pool entering Thursday play where they face 25th-seeded Tatyana Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova of Kazakhstan.

“It was the first-time we beat the Germans,” said the 24-year old Brzostek.  “I don’t know how we beat them.  Maybe they were tired after playing so many matches last week in Gstaad where they won the gold medal.  Seriously, this was a big win for us and now we have a chance to win our pool and earn a bye for the elimination rounds.  It will be a tough match against Kazakhstan.”

While Holtwick and Semmler where winning the gold medal last week in Switzerland, Brzostek and Kolosinska were placing 25th for one of their worst finishes of the 2014 season as the Poles were beaten by two German teams in the Gstaad pool play.

“We are playing a lot better this week,” Brzostek added.  “Against Katrin and Ilka, we sided out better and we took advantage of our service strategy.  It helped us a lot in the third set to take the lead early and rely on siding out by playing good defense.  We need to maintain our focus for tomorrow’s match as earning an elimination bye is huge.”

Baquerizo and Liliana also rebounded from a disappointing Gstaad performance where they placed ninth by winning only two of five matches.  In the previous FIVB World Tour event in Norway at the end of June, the Spaniards placed second after losing the finale to American Olympic medal winners April Ross and Kerri Walsh.

“It was tough for us last week as we missed two days of training when our coach (Danny Wood) was hospitalized,” said Liliana.  “We lost our focus as we were really concerned about Danny’s condition.  He helps us a lot when we train and play.  So we were not at our best in Gstaad.”

With Zeben Jorge helping out this week as the Spaniards coach, the fourth-seeded Baquerizo and Liliana posted a pair of three-set wins Wednesday over teams from China and Italy to lead their pool.  A win Thursday over 13th-seeded Emily Day and Summer Ross of United States would secure a first-round “bye” for the Spaniards when elimination play starts Friday.

With the Transavia Grand Slam being the 10th women’s event on the 2014 FIVB World Tour, 24 of the women’s pool play matches were staged Wednesday on the four sand courts on Scheveningen beach.  Four matches each were also played on specialty-made set ups in the Marktplein at Apeldoorn and the Gustav Mahlerplein in Amsterdam.

Highlighting the women’s play in Amsterdam was a pair of wins by American Olympians April Ross and Kerri Walsh over pairs from The Netherlands and Canada.  The second-seeded Ross and Walsh survived a third set upset bid by 18th-seeded Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan as the Canadians had a match point at 15-14 with Ross and Walsh closing out the contest with three-straight points to post a 2-1 (21-15, 22-24 and 17-15) victory in 54 minutes.

With the Transavia Grand Slam a “prelude”* to the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships to be played in The Netherlands, the final three days of the competition will be staged only at the Scheveningen courts where the medal matches will be played Sunday.  The final two teams in both gender’s competition with be competing for the gold medals and a share of the $70,000 first-place prize for each winning team.

Following this week’s event, the FIVB World Tour returns to the United States for the second-straight year as Long Beach in southern California hosts another $1-million event.  The international circuit returns to Europe in August for stops in Austria (Klagenfurt, July 29-August 3) and Poland (Stare Jablonki, August 19-24).

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