2015-09-29 20:15:00 CEST
The first-ever Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals that got underway in Fort Lauderdale on September 29 is already shaping up to be the most important tournament of the season. Wild card upsets and medical drama were only part of the surprises, with more to come as Pool Play continues for the teams from eight nations on Wednesday.
With only the best teams on the planet going head-to-head in history’s first Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals, there’s no holding back in the early rounds. The very first match between Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst and Spain’s Liliana Fernández and Elsa Baquerizo was a three-set showdown, with the Germans finally clinching the win.
Next, it was a men’s stunner as wild cards Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy upset top-seeded Americans Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson.
“The international teams are playing a higher level of volleyball consistently than us playing on the U.S. tour,“ said Patterson. “It literally is like a final every match here. So even though this was our first day, it feels like they just won gold and we took silver.“
The other American men in action on Tuesday, wild cards Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, dug deep to beat Canada’s Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk, despite having only recently arrived after a 36-hour flight from China, where they won FIVB gold at the Xiamen Open on September 26.
Back on the women’s side, 2015 World Champions and confirmed 2016 Olympians Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas of Brazil won a tussle with Spain’s Liliana and Elsa, who were playing their second Pool A match of the day, while in Pool B Canada’s Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan needed three sets to take down 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist Jennifer Kessy from the USA and her partner Emily Day.
The USA’s April Ross, who won Olympic silver with Kessy, started out the tournament by clinching a win against Canada with her current partner Lauren Fendrick.
For Austrians Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst, the commencement of their tournament was anything but ideal, as they withdrew in the second set of their match against Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt when Horst was feeling unwell. “We wanted to be safe and let him recover before continuing the tournament.“ Doppler explained. “The best ten teams in the world are here, so there are no easy games. These are the teams you have to beat to win medals at big events like the World Championships or the Olympic Games.”
The action continues for men and women at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park on Wednesday, kicking off with Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca, the number 2 seed women who have been named to the 2016 Brazilian Olympic team, taking on number 6 seeds from the Netherlands. It all leads up to the medal rounds on October 3–4.
RESULTS, SWATCH BEACH VOLLEYBALL FIVB WORLD TOUR FINALS: TUESDAY, SEPT. 29
Women, Pool A
Ludwig/Walkenhorst (Germany) win vs. Liliana/Elsa (Spain): 21-9, 23-25, 15-9
Fendrick/Ross (USA) win vs. Broder/Valjas (Canada): 24-22, 21-14
Agatha/Barbara (Brazil) win vs. Liliana/Elsa (Spain): 21-18, 21-17
Women, Pool B
Bansley/Pavan (Canada) win vs. Day/Kessy (USA): 21-13, 15-21, 16-14
Men, Pool A
Lupo/Nicolai (Italy) win vs. Gibb/Patterson (USA): 21-16, 21-18
Men, Pool B
Dalhausser/Lucena (USA) win vs. Schalk/Saxton (Canada): 23-21, 21-12
Alison/Bruno Schmidt (Brazil) win vs. Doppler/Horst (Austria): 21-18, 7-3 (illness)