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Prague Open Features Brazilian Beach Party

Brazilians Barbara Seixas (left) and Agatha Bednarczuk secure the top spot in the Prague Open elimination bracket with two other teams from the South American country winning their pools Friday.

Prague, Czech Republic, May 22, 2015 - It is a “Brazilian Beach Party” on the sands of Stvanice Stadium as three women’s Beach Volleyball pairs from the South American country captured pool titles here Friday to advance with five other teams to the second-round of elimination play in the FIVB World Tour event.

Leading the charge for Brazil was second-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas (Pool B) and 24th-seeded Eduarda Lisboa/Elize Maia (Pool H) as both teams finished group play with 3-0 records to advance. The fourth-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) dropped their final group match Friday to a host country team, but still won their pool for the South American country with a 2-1 record.


With the Prague Open being the 280th event since the start of women’s play on the FIVB World Tour in 1992, Brazil will be seeking to send three teams to a semi-final for the 44th-time. The South American country has captured all three places at a women’s FIVB World Tour event 21 times. Brazil has had a team in 200 of the previous 279 gold medal matches with 50 being being All-Brazilian affairs. Brazilian women has compiled 366 world tour medals and topped the podium 137 times.


Eduarda and Elize Maia improved their Prague Open match mark to 5-0 after withstanding a challenge from 25th-seeded Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte Friday morning by defeating the Lithuanians 201 (21-17, 17-21, 15-9) in 42 minutes. The Brazilians had to win two qualifying matches Wednesday to earn a spot in the "money" rounds.

Brittany Hochevar and Heather McGuire won the Pool E title as the 28th-seeded Americans had the edge in the three-team tie-breaker with pairs from the Slovak Republic and Japan. Like Eduarda and Elize Maia, Hochevar and McGuire had to win two qualifying matches Wednesday.


Other pairs winning pools Friday to advance to the second-round of elimination play Saturday morning were third-seeded Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude of Germany (Pool C), seventh-seeded Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada (Pool G), 11th-seeded Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug of Argentina (Pool F) and 16th-seeded Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen of Finland (Pool A).

The Finnish women captured Pool A with a 3-0 mark after handing defending Prague Open champions Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic their second loss of the tournament. It was the second-time this season the Fins have won a pool title in FIVB World Tour competition after topping the group in the season-opening event in China.

After three events on FIVB World Tour, German teams have won six pool titles this season followed by Canada (5), Brazil (3), Finland (2) and the United States (2). The pool title Friday was the first by Argentina this season with other countries topping groups being Australia, China, The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.


Joining Kolocova and Slukova as second-place pool finishers for the host country were 13th-seeded Martina Bonnerová/Barbora Hermannová (Pool D) and 31st-seeded Sona Novakova Dosoudilova/Lenka Hajeckova (Pool B). Bonnerová and Hermannová upset the Salgado sisters Friday morning, but lost the tie-breaker for the pool leadership.


The Prague Open concludes Sunday with the playing of the semi-final and medal matches. The semi-finals will be played at 11 a.m. followed by the third-place match at 3 p.m. and the gold medal finale at 4 p.m. The winning team will share the $11,000 first-place prize with $8,000 for second, $6,000 for third and $4,500 for fourth-place.


This week’s stop is the third women’s qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Prague Open entrants Broder and Valjas, who netted gold (Fuzhou, China) and bronze (Lucerne, Switzerland) medals in the first two events this season, lead the provisional Rio rankings with 1,080 points followed by Laboureur and Sude with 930. The winning team this week earns 500 Olympic qualifying points with second garnering 450, third securing 400 points and fourth gathering 350 points.


The FIVB World Tour resumes men’s and women’s competition next week with the Moscow Grand Slam (May 25-31). The FIVB World Tour’s first “Major Series” stops are set for Croatia (Poreč, June 1-7) and Norway (Stavanger, June 8-14) before international circuit crosses the Atlantic for the final world championship “tune up” in the United States for the St. Petersburg Grand Slam in Florida (June 15-21). The 2015 FIVB “senior” Beach Volleyball World Championships will be played at four sites in The Netherlands starting June 26 with the final matches scheduled for July 5 in The Hague.


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