Eleven unbeaten teams in women’s main draw at FIVB Klagenfurt A1 Grand Slam
Three teams from Brazil, two Germany along with one team each from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States all opened pool play Wednesday with twin wins at the 2014 FIVB World Tour stop being held in Klagenfurt through Sunday in a purpose-built venue along side the picturesque Wörthersee.
The top seven seeds were among the undefeated but four breakthrough seeds including two who came into the main draw from Tuesday’s qualification tournament, comprise the 11 unbeaten teams. Women’s action Thursday will see the third and final pool play match as well as the first round of eliminations for the 24 teams that advance from pool play.
The eight teams who have earned spots in the 32-team main draw are USA’s top-seeded April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings, Czech Republic’s second-seeded Marketa Slukova/Kristyna Kolocova, Brazil’s third-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Brazil’s fourth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta, Germany’s fifth-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, Spain’s sixth-seeded Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo
Also undefeated Wednesday were Netherlands’ seventh-seeded Marleen Van Iersel/Madelein Meppelink, Australia’s 13th-seeded Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy, Germany’s 16th-seeded Laura Ludwig/Julia Sude, Canada’s 24th-seeded Sara Pavan/Heather Bansley and Brazil’s 25th-seeded Maria Clara Salgado/Liliane Maestrini.
GERMANY vs. USA AGAIN
Playing in just their fourth FIVB World Tour event as a team, Germany’s Ludwig/Sude as Ludwig’s previous teammate Kira Walkenhorst was forced to the sideline with a virus, Wednesday was a good day for the German pair with twin wins to set up a rematch from last week’s round of 16 in Long Beach, USA with USA’s Ross/Walsh Jennings Thursday morning. USA’s Ross/Walsh Jennings won that first meeting in three sets.
Germany’s Ludwig/Sude opened pool play in Klagenfurt Wednesday by defeating Switzerland’s 17th-seeded Nadine Zumkehr/Joana Heidrich, 21-13, 21-19 in 33 minutes and came back in the afternoon to stop Austria’s 32nd-seeded Barbara Hansel/Bianca Zass in straight sets again, 21-17, 21-13 in 35 minutes.
Extending their season-long pool play winning streak to 26 consecutive matches, USA’s Ross/Walsh Jennings kept pace with Germany’s Ludwig/Sude with a pair of wins of their own. First, USA’s Ross/Walsh Jennings beat Austria’s Hansel/Zass 21-13, 21-13 in 31 minutes then came back to beat Switzerland’s Zumkehr/Heidrich in two sets, 21-11, 21-12 in 35 minutes.
After their second win Wednesday, Germany’s Ludwig said, “It´s always a challenge to play against an Austrian team in front of their home crowd. They served really well and made us work for this win. We enjoy the great atmosphere on Centre Court and look forward to our next match which happens to be a great team in USA’s Ross and Walsh Jennings. We played really well against them in Long Beach last week and I think we can again this week. We just would like different results this time. They are both great Olympians and it is always an honor for me to play against them.”
USA’s Walsh Jennings was a bit more reflective, “We played well today all things considered. April is a good teammate, a superb played and I am learning new things every match. We are playing well together but we stumbled twice this year and we are striving not to repeat it. With different teammates, April and I have both played many times against Laura Ludwig and it is always a struggle because she is such a dedicated competitor and we have to be prepared for her to dig every possible attach we have. Both teams will move into single-elimination, but we want to be the team who gets the bye in the first round.”
MAJOR SEED BREAKTHROUGHS
Besides Germany’s Ludwig/Sude, also earning big seed breakthrough wins Wednesday were Canada’s Pavan/Bansley and Brazil’s Salgado/Maestrini. Both Canada’s Pavan/Bansley and Brazil’s Salgado/Maestrini first advanced from Tuesday’s women’s qualification tournament as the second and third qualification seeds.
Both in the same pool, in the other two major seed-busters, Canada’s Pavan/Bansley first defeated Austria’s ninth-seeded Stefanie Schwaiger/Lisa Chukwuma, 23-21, 21-6 in 32 minutes and then came from behind to knock off Germany’s eighth-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe in three sets, 16-21, 21-14 and 15-13 in 46 minutes.
Brazil’s Salgado/Maesrini, playing their first FIVB World Tour event together in over two years, first defeated Germany’s Borger/Buthe in twin sets, 21-16, 21-17 in 36 minutes and ended the day’s action on the nearly packed center court by coming from behind to defeat the inspired play of Austria’s home-country favorites Schwaiger/Chukwuma in three sets, 16-21, 21-15, 15-12 in 52 minutes, the third-longest women’s match of the day.
BREAKIN’ IT DOWN
The FIVB Klagenfurt A1 Grand Slam is using the FIVB format of a single-day qualification tournament on Tuesday for women and Wednesday for men to determine the final eight spots in each gender’s 32-team main draw tournaments, round-robin pool play with begin on Wednesday for women and Thursday for men. It will conclude with a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams. The event is being played on the purpose-built site located alongside Lake Wörthersee. Local event information is available at beachvolleyball.at.
Women’s single-elimination play will begin on Thursday and men’s on Friday with the women’s round of 16 and quarterfinals on Friday and men’s on Saturday. Women’s semifinals and men’s round of 16 and quarterfinals will be held on Saturday. The women’s medal matches closing the FIVB Klagenfurt A1 Grand Slam will be held on Saturday. On Sunday, the men’s semifinals and medal matches will conclude the event.
TEAM AUSTRIA UPDATE
As the host nation, Austria has three men’s and three women’s teams automatically pre-seeded into the main draw. For the women, the main draw teams from Austria are Lisa Chuwama/Stefanie Schwaiger (0-2 in pool play Wednesday), Katharina Schutzenhofer/Lena Plesiutschnig (1-1) and Barbara Hansel/Bianca Zass (0-2).
Additionally, Austria had two men’s team and two women’s teams in their respective qualification tournaments. The two Austrian women’s qualification teams were Valeria Teufl/Cornelia Rimser and Nadine Strauss/Teresa Strauss but both were eliminated in the qualifier.
FIVB PURSE, TOURNEY TOTALS
The FIVB Klagenfurt A1 Grand Slam is the 308th FIVB men’s tournament since its first event in 1987 and the 272 FIVB women’s tournament since FIVB began women’s competitions in 1992. Gold medal winning teams in each gender in Klagenfurt will split $57,000, silver will receive $43,000, bronze medalists get $32,000 and the fourth place finishers will earn $24,000 of the $800,000 total purse.
RETURN TO KLAGENFURT
This year is an unprecedented 17th time in the last 18 years that the Lake Wörthersee site has hosted the international circuit. While the men’s world tour has been in Klagenfurt 16 straight times from 1997 through 2012 for this magical summer festival, the women’s world tour has been in Klagenfurt for 12 consecutive years from 2001 through 2012.
Men’s championship team of the 2012 FIVB Klagenfurt Grand Slam was Netherland’s veteran Olympians Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schuil. Winning the 2012 women’s gold medal in Klagenfurt was the new Russian team of Ekaterina Khomyakova/Evgenia Ukolova.
KLAGENFURT MEDAL COUNT
Through the 2012 event, Austria has hosted a total of 28 FIVB World Tour events (16 men, 12 women-all in Klagenfurt) during a 16-year period with Brazil leading the medal count in both genders.
After 12 FIVB World Tour women’s events held in Klagenfurt, Austria through 2012, Brazil leads the medal parade with 15 total medals followed by the USA with 11, Germany and China with four each, Netherlands with two and with one women’s medal in Klagenfurt are Czech Republic, Russia and Ukraine.