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Canada and Italy claim top position in pool play for the first time

Canada's Sarah Pavan (left) and Heather Bansley claimed top position in the pool for the first time
Prague, Czech Republic, May 23, 2014 – Canada’s Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan and Italy’s Daniela Gioria and Laura Giombini became pool winners on Friday for the first time in their careers. Both teams will continue the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Prague Open in the second elimination round on Saturday.

After two wins over fellow Canadians MacTavish/Whitaker and Japan’s Nishibori/Mizoe on Thursday, Bansley and Pavan fought off Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Maria Prokopeva in three sets (22-24, 21-10, 15-10) to claim the pool on Friday.

“Our goal was to have an afternoon off and prepare for tomorrow”, said 1,96 meter tall Pavan. “This is our first tournament this season to prepare for the grand slams, but we also came here to finish in the top 10. That happened, so now we will push one game at a time.”

Pavan, a long-time member of the Canadian national volleyball team, made her debut in beach volleybal in 2013 but still plays indoor in the winter. She plans to sign a short contract for the coming volleyball season, and after that will commit to beach volleyball fulltime. “To fully focus on Rio in 2016.”


Italy’s Gioria and Giombini, playing together since 2013, booked their biggest success on Thursday by upsetting China’s world champion Chen Xue and her partner Xinyi Xia. “After that win I told Laura that now we would have to win the pool as well and we did”, said Gioria, after their 2-0 (21-11, 21-16) win over Norway’s Treland/Pedersen.

The Italians, Chinese and the Finnish Nystrom-twins all ended up with two wins, the rally points ratio turned the scale in favour of Italy.


Also topping their pool were Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta. The Brazilian medal contenders had an easy 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) against China’s Wang/Yue.

“I feel very well and am really excited to play in Prague. It’s a nice place and the people like beach volleyball. I hope I can give my best here”, said Juliana.

She won the 2011 World Championships and the World Tour Points Championship seven times with her old partner Larissa Franca. After a year of absence the 30-year old veteran teamed up with Antonelli this season and they managed to win two silvers (Fuzhou and Puerto Vallarta) already.

Despite this success Juliana is saying she is still adjusting to the new partnership. “I played a long time with the same partner, I played with Larissa for ten years. It’s very different, we are getting better slowly, and in general we are a good team. Our performance is good, considering this is only the start.”

“But playing with Maria really is a big difference. Me and Larissa - she always talked a lot - but she knew me and I knew her. Me and Maria, we have to get to know each other all over.”

About their chances to win another medal, she said: “We have to play hard, match after match to build our confidence. That is the secret to winning a medal. We are also here to earn points and get rhythm and improve.”

Other teams

The other teams that advanced straight into the second elimination round as pool winners are the top seeded Czech team Kolocova/Slukova, Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst, Borger/Büthe and Holtwick Semmler and Austria’s Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger.

The numbers two and three of each pool start in the first knockout round at 16:00 Friday afternoon. The winners will join the pool winners in the second round on Saturday at the women’s only Prague Open.

FIVB Prague Open Tournament Page

FIVB Prague Open Main Draw

FIVB Prague Open Pool Standings

FIVB Prague Open Qualification

FIVB World Tour Twitter Account


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