Eight unbeaten women’s teams head to single elims at FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam
São Paulo, Brazil, October 10, 2013 – Pool Play completed, 24 women’s teams, including eight who were undefeated at 3-0 in round robin play to win their pools, head to the start of Friday’s single-elimination play at the $440,000 FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam double-gender tournament. Marking the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour’s return to Brazil for the 27th consecutive year, two teams each from Germany and the United States and one team each from Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany and Netherlands were unbeaten in pool play and will now receive a bye in round of 24, moving to the round of 16 Friday afternoon.
Each receiving a bye into the round of 16, the eight unbeaten pool winners who emerged from Thursday’s two match victories to go with their first win on Wednesday, were: Brazil’s top-seeded Taiana Lima/Talita Antunes, Germany’s fourth-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, Germany’s fifth-seeded Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst, Netherlands’ eighth-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel, USA’s 10th-seeded April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings, Czech Republic’s 14th-seeded Marketa Slukova/Kristyna Kolocova, USA’s 15th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brittany Hochevar and Canada’s 27th-seeded Jamie Lynn Broder/Kristina Valjas,
The 24 teams in each gender who advanced from pool play from the 32-team main draws in each gender, will now move into Friday’s start of single elimination play. For the women on Thursday, all eight pool winners were undefeated at 3-0 as the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour resumed in South America this week. Friday will see the round of 24, round of 16 and quarterfinal matches in each gender as the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour has resumed in South America after a six-week respite. With the event being held for the first time in São Paulo the purpose-built site is located on the expansive grounds of Parque Villa Lobos on the west side of the massive city.
Brazil had one team in each gender advance from Tuesday’s qualifiers and the home country had its full allotment of five teams in each gender in the São Paulo main draw. For the women, the qualification team that advanced was Elize Secomandi/Fernanda Alves, who were 0-3 in pool play and were eliminated. Overall, the Brazilian women’s teams finished pool play with a combined 8-7 record. Besides Lima/Antunes, the other Brazilian women’s team who advanced to Friday’s single elimination rounds were second-seeded sisters Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado (2-1 record), third-seeded Barbara Seixas/Liliana Maestrini (1-2) and seventh-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Maria Antonelli (2-1).
Led by Lima/Antunes, Brazil will have four teams start single-elimination play Friday, but only Lima/Antunes will receive a bye as a pool winner into the Round of 16. The Salgado sisters, Seixas/Maestrini and Bednarczuk/Antonelli will all play in the early morning Round of 24.
Leading both the FIVB World Rankings and the FIVB World Tour/FIVB Open point standings with five gold medals so far this year, Brazil’s Lima/Antunes were not only 3-0, but won all six sets on the way to the top spot in their pool. On Thursday, the Brazilian duo ended pool play by winning over Slovak Republic’s 16th-seeded Dominika Nestarcova/Natalia Dubovcova, 21-15, 21-16 in a 33-minute match.
The Salgado sisters and Bednarczuk/Antonelli won their first two pool play matches but were defeated by lower-seeded teams in their final match of the day. Both teams were defeated by teams from the USA and both went three sets.
First, USA’s new tandem Ross/Walsh Jennings defeated Bednarczuk/Antonelli, 21-16, 20-22 and 15-11 in 55 minutes. The American Olympians came back from a 10-14 deficit in the first set to score nine consecutive points and in the deciding third set Ross/Walsh Jennings overcame a 1-5 deficit to pull out the win in just their second FIVB World Tour event as a team. In the tie-breaker, Walsh Jennings helped end the match and give her team the victory with a two of her patented massive blocks at the net.
In the other three-setter involving Brazil and the USA, American’s Fendrick/Hochevar came from behind against Brazil’s Salgado sisters, to win their pool, 16-21, 21-18, 15-12 in 52 minutes.
Not really a surprise, but winning both their three matches to win their pool, is USA’s newest team features the Olympic pair of Ross/Walsh Jennings who are playing in just their second FIVB World Tour Grand Slam event after Olympic careers with different teammates. Walsh Jennings has three career Olympic gold medals and Ross won the silver medal last year at the 2012 London Olympics. Ross/Walsh Jennings, who both admit they have a long way to go as a team but are very, very pleased with their results so far in São Paulo.
Besides Brazil’s Lima/Antunes, both Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler and Ludwig/Walkenhorst won all six of their sets on the way to winning the respective pools. On Thursday, Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler defeated Netherland’s 13th-seeded Marleen Van Iersel/Sanne Keizer, 21-18, 21-11 in 37 minutes while a short time later, Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst stopped USA’s 12th-seeded Jennifer Fopma/Brooke Sweat, 21-9, 21-14 in 31 minutes.
Always focused, Antunes commented after their win Thursday, saying, “Winning is always good, especially in Brazil. We’re sorry that the other Brazilian teams couldn’t advance directly to the Round of 16, but we’re happy four of us are still in it. We’ll support them tomorrow to pass through the Round of 24. About us, we’re still focused, thinking game by game, like if each of them was a final. In theory, we’re considered the favorites because we’re on the top of the ranking, but we need to show it.”
After suffering a tough three-set loss to USA’s Ross/Walsh Jennings, Brazil’s Antonelli reflected, “Both teams knew that it was going to be a tough match. In a game like today’s, if you don’t feel the tension it’s because you don’t want to win it. It is positive and important to feel this way. We lost this time, and that’s part of the game. But this is not over yet.”
This year’s FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam will have the semifinals and bronze medal matches for both genders on Saturday and the gold medal matches for both on Sunday. The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam will each split $33,000, the silver $22,000, the bronze $16,500 and fourth place $12,900.
The FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam marks the 35th time that Brazil has hosted a men’s and 30th time Brazil has hosted a women’s FIVB international beach volleyball world tour event. Brazil has staged a FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event every year since the start of the international circuit for men in 1987 and women in 1992. It is also the 295th FIVB World Tour men’s tournament and 257th women’s tournament.
The 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is comprised of 10 Grand Slam events and the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. Not part of the World Tour but counting towards FIVB points/earnings are five Open events (four double-gender tournaments and one women-only). The last of 10 FIVB World Tour Grand Slams will be the 2013 Grand Slam schedule will now end in China Oct. 22-27 at the double-gender $440,000 FIVB Xiamen Grand Slam.