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Copacabana chase continues

Argentina's Ana Gallay (left) and Georgina Klug react during the gold medal match against Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland at the 2015 Xiamen Open
Lausanne, Switzerland, April 2, 2016 - While the men’s FIVB World Tour resumes Monday in Qatar, the women’s portion of the international circuit takes another week off before returning to action next week in China for a pair of Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifying events in Xiamen and Fuzhou.

With points ranging from 30 for finishing 41st to 500 for topping the podiums at Xiamen (April 12-17) and/or Fuzhou (April 19-24), the two China stops are the 21st and 22nd of 28 Olympic qualifiers for women since starting the “Chase for Copacabana” via the FIVB World Tour in April 2015.

Quick links
•    Qatar Open website
•    Qualification
•    Main draw

The two Asian events will be followed by five straight weeks of additional Summer Games qualifying tournaments in Brazil (Fortaleza), Russia (Sochi and Moscow), Turkey (Antalya) and the United States (Cincinnati) before the FIVB World Tour takes a break for the European Championships to be played in June 1-5 at the Nicolas G. Hayek Park in Biel, Switzerland.


With 21 top-ranked women’s teams on the provisional FIVB World Tour Olympic qualifying list scheduled to compete April 12-17 in Xiamen, the spotlight will be on the pairs currently ranked 13th (Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, China), 14th (Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr, Switzerland) and 15th (tied between Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug, Argentina and Ekaterina Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova, Russia).

Wang and Yue currently hold a 190 points edge (4,090 to 3,900) over Heidrich and Zumkehr. With Gallay/Klug and Birlova/Ukolova tied for the 15th spot on the provisional list with 3,830 points each, the Argentineans and Russians are 260 points behind the Chinese pair.  If the two teams remain tied at the end of the qualifying period (June 13, 2016), three tie-breakers are in place to determine the Rio participant based on total qualifying points, total event participation and best finish.

Gallay and Klug have played the Russians only once on the FIVB World Tour with the Argentineans defeating Birlova and Ukolova 2-0 (22-20, 29-27) in a 49-minute quarterfinal match at last September's Xiamen Open. Gallay and Klug, the 2015 PanAmerican champions, finished second in the Chinese event after dropping the 40-minute gold medal match to Heidrich and Zumkehr in two sets 2-0 (21-18, 21-17).

The top 15 pairs from the FIVB World Tour on the Olympic qualifying list earn berths in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a maximum of two teams per country.

Team, Country, Olympic provisional ranking, Points, Xiamen placement needed to better point total
•    Wang/Yue, China, 13th, 4,090, 5th or better
•    Heidrich/Zumkehr, Switzerland, 14th, 3,900, 5th or better
•    Gallay/Klug, Argentina, Tied 15th, 3,830, 9th or better
•    Birlova/Ukolova, Russia, Tied 15th, 3,830, 5th or better


To qualify for the Olympics, a team must compete together in at least 12 FIVB World Tour events and/or recognised continental championships from January 2015 through June 13, 2016. A team’s best 12 finishes will be used to determine a tandem’s ranking.

Five pairs for each gender’s Olympic competition will qualify via Continental Cup action where each FIVB confederation is guaranteed a berth at the Rio 2016 Summer Games. The last qualifying event will be July 6-10 when Russia hosts the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament in Sochi. The top two tandems from each gender from the Continental Cup qualifier will earn the last two pairs in the 24-team Olympic competitions.


Brazil has already qualified two teams in each gender’s competition for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Two pairs from the South American country captured the gold medals at the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships last July in the Netherlands (Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas) to secure Copacabana compartments. Being the host of the Rio Summer Games, Brazil was also guaranteed two teams in the 24-team men’s and women’s fields (Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg and Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca).

With all that said, Brazilian pairs cannot qualify another team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games through the FIVB World Tour. Therefore, the ranking list excludes Brazilians in the ranking order as Talita/Larissa (6,940) and Agatha/Barbara (6,870) rank 1-2 on the women’s provisional list. Alison/Bruno (7,050 points) and Evandro Pedro (6,130) are the top two teams on the men’s provisional points list for Rio.


For five pairs, the $75,000 Xiamen Open provides an opportunity to improve their point total as one of the top 15 teams on the current provisional rankings for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Here is a breakdown of the ranked teams.

Team, Country, Olympic provisional ranking, Points, Xiamen placement needed to better point total
•    Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth, Italy, 4th, 5,070, 5th or better
•    Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, Germany, 7th, 4,600, 17th or better
•    April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings, United States, 9th, 4,390, will gain 120 points with first serve
•    Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, United States, 10th, 4,330, 9th or better
•    Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré, Switzerland, 11th, 4,270, 5th or better


For five of the Xiamen entrants, the Chinese stop provides another opportunity to increase their Olympic point total to reach a spot among the top 15 teams from the FIVB World Tour.

Team, Country, Olympic provisional ranking, Points, Xiamen placement need to better point total
•    Natalia Dubovcova/Dominika Nestarcova, Slovak Republic, 17th, 3,370, 17th or better
•    Linline Matauatu/Pata Miller, Vanuatu, 18th, 3,270, 17th or better
•    Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen, Finland, 19th, 3,110, 9th or better
•    Barbara Hansel/Stefanie Schwaiger, Austria, 20th, 3,036, 17th or better
•    Sayaka Mizoe/Takemi Nishibori, Japan, 21st, 2,460, will gain 40 points with first serve


Three Xiamen entrants will automatically gain points as each duo has not reached the requirement to play in a minimum of 12 events.

Team, Country, Olympic provisional ranking, Points, guaranteed Xiamen points due to Main Draw placement of 25th
•    Jantine van der Vlist/Sophie van Gestel, Netherlands, 23rd, 1,930, will gain 120 points with first serve
•    Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova, Czech Republic, 25th, 1,740, will gain 120 points with first serve
•    Xinyi Xia/Chen Xue, China, 29th, 1,280, will gain 120 points with first serve

The Dutch pair needs three more qualifying appearances to satisfy the participation requirement as the Xiamen Open will be their 10th qualifying event. Hermannova and Slukova will be playing in their ninth qualifying event. Xue, a two-time Olympian and 2013 world champion with Xi Zhang, and Xia, the youngest player to ever win a FIVB event, need seven more qualifying events to satisfy the participation requirement. The Chinese pair won the recently-completed Asian Championships on Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia.


With a minimum of two teams per country in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games field, four Xiamen entrants will be seeking to improve their provisional points total.

Team, Country, Olympic provisional points, Xiamen placement need to better point total
•    Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, Germany, 4,390, 5th or better
•    Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude, Germany, 4,090, 5th or better
•    Emily Day/Jennifer Kessy, United States, 3,920, 9th or better
•    Melissa Humana-Paredes/Taylor Pischke, Canada, 3,180, 17th or better

Holtwick/Semmler and Laboureur/Sude are currently on 210 and 510 points, respectively, behind German rivals Borger and Büthe. Day and Kessy are 410 points behind Fendrick and Sweat. Humana-Paredes and Pischke's road to Rio appears almost impossible as the Canadians are 1,460 behind compatriots Broder and Valjas.


With the Qatar Open a men’s only event, the next eight events are double gender tournaments highlighted by $800,000 FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops in Moscow and Hamburg.

•    April 12-17 - Xiamen (China) Open
•    April 19-24 - Fuzhou (China) Open
•    April 26-May 1 - Fortaleza (Brazil) Open
•    May 3-8 - Sochi (Russia) Open
•    May 10-15 - Antalya (Turkey) Open
•    May 17-22 - Cincinnati (United States) Open
•    May 24-29 - Moscow (Russia) Grand Slam
•    June 7-12 - Hamburg (Germany) Grand Slam

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