Moscow Grand Slam takes shape as teams hold their nerve in qualifying
Eight teams per gender battled hard to make it to pool play and they now face a guaranteed three matches ahead of the elimination rounds.
The tournament is the second FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Grand Slam of the year and will begin a period of seven Grand Slams in eight weeks that will go a long way to deciding the outcomes of the 2014 female and male World Ranking winners.
Double the celebrations for birthday girl
Georgina Klug was able to mark her 30th birthday in memorable style when she and Ana Gallay made it through the qualification rounds.
The Argentine duo defeated Austria’s Barbara Hansel and Bianca Zass 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) to seal their passage into the main draw, which begins on Wednesday.
“I’m 30-year-olds today so I was waiting till after the match to let everyone wish me a happy birthday,” Klug said.
“Until now I said don’t give me anything, don’t celebrate it until after the match and now we can celebrate. We are proud of our work; it’s another main draw for us.”
Joining them among seven other teams are Italian duo Daniela Gioria and Laura Giombini. They defeated Finnish twin sisters Erika and Emilia Nystrom 2-0 (23-21, 21-12).
“We’re very happy, we’ve won our match and we’ve qualified,” Gioria said. “Tomorrow it all starts again for us and we have to refocus again and relax a little before then.”
Lucena and Doherty partnership taking shape
Nick Lucena and Ryan Doherty didn’t hang around as they reached the main draw. The USA duo were up against Venezuela’s Igor Hernandez and Jesus Villafane in qualifying, but made it through to the main draw that starts on Thursday with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-13) victory.
Moscow is only their third tournament together having played Sao Paolo in 2013, where they reached the quarterfinals and the Shanghai Grand Slam earlier in 2014.
In fact for Doherty it is only his second year on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. He played most of the 2013 season with former Olympic and world champion Todd Rogers, after he moved to beach volleyball having previously played a high level of baseball.
“He’s got a lot of potential,” Lucena said. He’s seven feet (214cm), athletic and he’s gotten a lot better than last season and I think he will improve more and just needs more experience and I think we can get better.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Moscow Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 11 through to Sunday June 15. It is the sixth event and the second Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Berlin Grand Slam which runs from June 17-22.