Women’s field reduced to 24 for single-elimination rounds in Long Beach
Winning their pools Friday were three teams from Brazil, two from the United States along with one each from Australia, the Netherlands and Slovak Republic. The eight pool winners now receive a bye to the round of 16 eliminations with the second and third place teams in each pool meeting in the first ‘knockout round’ Friday morning at Alamitos Beach.
This year’s ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam, is the third of four consecutive FIVB Grand Slam tournaments being held in four separate countries—Switzerland, The Netherlands, the United States and Austria. The tournament will be featured in extensive coverage by the NBC family of networks Friday through Sunday. Overall the event is a SoCal beach festival that includes 4-person and 6-person recreational events, a youth tournament and nightly music concerts. The event also includes live or same-day telecasts split between NBC Sports Network, Universal Network and NBC TV Network.
UNDEFEATED POOL WINNERS
The six teams playing their way to the preeminent position within their respective pools of four with unblemished 3-0 records were USA’s top-seeded April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings, Brazil’s fifth-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Brazil’s seventh-seeded Taiana Lima/Fernanda Alves, Netherlands’ eighth-seeded Marleen Van Iersel/Madelein Meppelink, USA’s 13th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Seat and Slovak Republic’s 14th-seeded Dominika Nestarcova/Natalia Dubovcova.
USA’s top-seeded A. Ross/Walsh Jennings are now 24-0 in pool play this season after their win on Thursday over Canada’s 16th-seeded Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley, 21-15, 21-18 in 38 minutes. In their three pool play wins in Long Beach, USA’s dynamic duo won each in two sets for a perfect 6-0 set record. The 2014 FIVB World Tour match record is now 38-4.
MORE POOL WINNERS
Also winning their pools, but with 2-1 records to also earn byes to Friday’s second elimination round were Australia’s 11-seeded Taliqua Clancy/Louise Bawden and Brazil’s 18th-seeded qualification team of Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes.
WOMEN’S SEED BREAKTHROUGHS
The four most significant seed break through wins Thursday were recorded by USA’s Fendrick/Sweat, USA’s 31st-seeded Nicole Branagh/Whitney Pavlik, Slovak Republic’s Nestarcova/Dubovcova and Australia’s 11th-seeded Taliqua Clancy/Louise Bawden.
In the longest women’s match of the tournament so far at one hour, two minutes, USA’s 13th-seeded Fendrick/Sweat upset Spain’s fourth-seeded Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo in three sets, 17-21, 21-17 and 17-15. In another huge breakthrough win, USA’s Nicole Branagh/Whitney Pavlik wouldn’t go away and pulled off the biggest seed breakthrough of the tournament so far by holding on to defeat Brazil’s Larissa/Talita in two sets, 17-21, 21-18 and 20-18 in 50 minutes.
The third surprise was Slovak Republic’s Dubovcova/Nestarcova went three sets as well to upset Germany’s third-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, 21-16, 17-21 and 15-10 in 48 minutes. On paper, the final major upset of women’s pool play was Australia’s Clancy/Bawden, in two sets as well over Germany’s sixth-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, 21-16, 21-19 in 36 minutes.
After her team’s impressive upset of Spain’s Fernandez/Baquerizo, USA’s Fendrick happily expressed her thoughts, saying, "They are a great team. They are never going to give up. Elsa (Baquerizo) got some heat stroke. It was pretty impressive to see her go down and be all dizzy and then play great out of the timeout. We were definitely going after her and she played great. It was a hard-fought match back and forth the whole time. Luckily we pulled out some points at the end. It's great to do it in front of the home crowd and family and friends... We had to make some plays. They were playing really well. They weren't giving anything away. It was a defensive battle. Brooke busted out her jump serve, so that put them in some trouble at the end and allowed me to get two blocks at the end."
The ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam has used a format of a single-day qualification tournament on Tuesday to determine the final eight spots in each gender’s 32-team main draw tournaments, round-robin pool play which began on Wednesday. It will conclude with a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams. With the event being held for the second straight year in Long Beach the purpose-built site is located on the sands of the Alamitos Beach adjacent to Marina Green Park on East Shoreline Drive. General admission is free to the event and VIP tickets are on sale through the event website at www.wsobv.com.
TEAM USA HOMECOMING
Host nation USA has six women’s teams that started pool play. Ending pool play with an overall 10-8 record, the three teams that were eliminated in pool play were Lane Carico/Brittany Hochevar (1-2), Heather Hughes/Christal Engle (0-3) and Branagh/Pavlik (0-3).
Besides USA’s pool winners A. Ross/Walsh Jennings and Fendrick/Seat, also advancing with a 2-1 record in pool play is USA’s 12th-seeded Emily Day/Summer Ross. The trio will all begin single-elimination rounds Thursday.
Men and women’s single-elimination play will begin on Friday with the quarterfinals for men also on Friday. Women’s quarterfinals and men’s and women’s semifinals will be held on Saturday. The medal matches closing the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam will be held on Sunday. Thursday will start at 8:30 a.m. Friday is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., Saturday at 8 a.m. and at 10 a.m. on Sunday for the medal matches.
The total entry list for the 2014 ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam includes 79 men’s teams from 29 countries and 60 women’s teams from 26 countries selected by their respective national federations.
FIVB PURSE, TOURNEY TOTALS
The ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam, will be the 307th FIVB men’s tournament since its first event in 1987 and the 271st FIVB women’s tournament since FIVB began women’s competitions in 1992. Gold medal winning teams in each gender in Long Beach will split $70,000, silver will receive $52,000, bronze winners get $40,000 and the fourth place finishers will earn $30,000 of the $1,000,000 total purse.