Eight unbeaten women’s teams on to single elims at FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open
With women’s competition going through Sunday on the sensational sands of the purpose built, four-court complex on the picturesque Playa Camarones, the tournament is the third event on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar.
Saturday’s schedule includes three rounds of women’s elimination play in addition to the men’s semifinals and medal matches on Playa Camerones in the heart of this Mexican resort city on the Pacific Ocean in the State of Jalisco. The women will play the first elimination round, followed by the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals late Saturday afternoon. The eight women’s teams who advanced undefeated from pool play include three from Brazil, and one each from Argentina, China, Germany, Mexico and the United States.
The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) international tour is back in Mexico for the first time since 2006 for its first event in Puerto Vallarta being held on Playa Camarones adjacent to the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort and Convention Center. The FIVB World Tour has had eight previous tour stops in Mexico. Acapulco hosted double-gender events in 1999, 2005 and 2006 and Rosarito hosted one double-gender tour stop in 2000.
Rewarding their home country fans with their third pool play victory to help lead the field of unbeaten women’s teams was Mexico’s ninth-seeded Martha Revuelta/Bibiana Candelas who recorded a pair of two-set victories Thursday over teams from Norway and Venezuela. On Friday, the popular Mexican duo finished pool play with a another two-set victory, this one over Germany’s eighth-seeded Jana Kohler/Anni Schumacher, 21-16, 21-18 in a 38-minute Playa Camarones stadium court match.
The other 3-0 teams after pool play besides Mexico’s Revuelta/Candelas following Friday’s single wins in pool play are Brazil’s top-seeded Taiana Lima/Talita Antunes, Brazil’s second-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Brazil’s 12th-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Maria Antonelli, China’s third-seeded Chen Xue/Xinji Xia, Germany’s seventh-seeded Julie Sude/Chantal Laboureur, Argentina’s 11th-seeded Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug, and USA’s 20th-seeded Heather Hughes/Christal Engle.
The eight pool winners advance directly to the Round of 16 while the remaining 16 teams (second and third place from each of the four-team pools) that advanced from pool play will meet in the first elimination round Saturday morning. The only qualifier team that has advanced to the elimination rounds is USA’s Hughes/Engle. Overall, four of the eight pool winners did not lose a set while three lost one set and the other two enroute to their three pool plan victories. The eight teams eliminated as they finished last in their respective pools, leave Puerto Vallarta with 25th-place finishes.
Brazil’s three teams in the women’s main draw were all impressive finishing with an 18-1 record in the sets they played winning their pools matches. Juliana/Antonelli, playing in their first season together, finished second on Brazil’s national tour this year while Bednarczuk/Seixas were champions and Lima/Antunes finished third. Juliana/Antonelli, Lima/Antunes were both 6-0 in sets played while Bednarczuk/Seixas was 6-1 while winning their three pool play matches.
A seven-time FIVB World Tour season champion, former FIVB World Champion and bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Juliana is as enthusiastic as ever as she enjoys her newest adventure.
Mexico started with four teams in the women’s main draw, including Haydee Lopez/Mayra Santacruz who advanced from the qualification tournament. While Mexico’s Revuelta/Candelas were 3-0 in winning their pool, Lopez/Santacruz, Stephanie Burnside/Diana Valdez and Paulette Cruz/Vanessa Virgen all lost three of their pool play matches and did not advance out of pool play.
An elated Mexico’s Candelas commented after her team’s third win on Friday, saying, “For me to play in Puerto Vallarta is really special. I have a very special memory her from the Pan American games back in 2011 and with this kind of crowd, all our people cheering for us, you push yourself harder. We had some good matches this year in China during those two tour stops and that has helped us come out strong here at home in Mexico.”
Quietly marching their way unbeaten in pool play with a 3-0 record including 6-1 in sets captured, China’s 2014 FIVB World Champion Chen Xue and her new teammate Xinji Xia continue to emerge as one of the top teams in the world. On Friday, the pair capped off pool play with a straight set win over Sweden’s 14th-seeded Karin Lundqvist/Nina Grawender, 21-16, 21-15 in 33 minutes.
One of the youngest players on the FIVB World Tour, 17, Xia commented after her team’s third victory, “Chen is one of the world’s top players and it is an honor to play with her. She is a good teacher and very patient with me and I am learning more and more how to play the game every match we have. We have started out well here in Mexico and we look forward to having a bye in the first round of eliminations and be ready when we do play.”
Starting to play together at the end of last year, Xue has 17 career FIVB World Tour gold medals including two with Xia at the end of last season.
The FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open is the 300th FIVB men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1987 and the 263rd FIVB women’s tournament since each started play in 1992.
The second of 10 FIVB Open events in 2014, the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open men’s action started Tuesday and goes through Saturday while women’s competition began Wednesday and ends Sunday. The tournament format had a one-day qualification tournament to determine the final eight spots in each gender’s 32-team main draw tournaments followed by round-robin pool play of three matches per team followed by a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams. The men’s semifinals and medal matches will be held Saturday while the women’s semis and medal matches will be played on Sunday at the purpose-built stadium at Puerto Vallarta’s Playa Camarones.
Mexico is also hosting the Inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball U17 World Championships this year in Acapulco (July 15-20).
The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500. The men medal matches will be held on Saturday and the women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland as the international governing body for the Olympic sports of Beach Volleyball and Volleyball, the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries. This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 11 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.
The 11 FIVB Open tournaments in 2014, seven double-gender, two men only and two women only, have $150,000 total purses for the double gender events and $75,000 for the single-gender competitions.