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American Football - 05. August 2011.

16 women's duos remain at A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank

Klagenfurt, Austria,  – Following Thursday’s final round of pool play and the first round of single-elimination bracket play, 16 women’s teams were eliminated and 16 women’s tandems advance to continue playing Friday at the $600,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee.

The world’s best beach volleyball tandems are back in Austria as the double-gender event marks the 15th consecutive visit by the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour with Klagenfurt hosting 14 previous men’s events and 10 previous women’s events. In 2001 Klagenfurt hosted the FIVB Swatch World Championships and has hosted a grand slam every year since 2002.

One of the most popular events of many ‘favorite’ events on the FIVB Swatch World Tour, the Klagenfurt venue features a fan-friendly purpose-built 8,000-seat center court stadium and massive two-story VIP hospitality area alongside the shore of spectacularly beautiful Lake Woerth in western Klagenfurt, which is located in southern Austria and is known as one of Austria’s top summer holiday destinations.

With the eight pool winners receiving a bye in the first round of elimination, the winners of Thursday’s first round will meet the eight pool winners in the round of 16 followed by the quarterfinals to determine the women’s final four. On Saturday, the women’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on the Klagenfurt center court.

Winning their respective pools were two teams each from Brazil and the United States along with one each from Austria, China, Netherlands and Spain.

In the first round of the single-elimination bracket played early Thursday evening involving the other 16 teams that advanced from the two days and three pool play matches, teams from seven countries all won to advance to Friday’s round of 16. Joining the pool winners will be two teams from Brazil and single teams from Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and the United States.

In Thursday’s first round of elimination matches, Italy’s sixth-seeded Greta/Cicolari/Marta Menegatti eliminated USA’s fifth-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross, 25-23, 21-15 in 39 minutes, Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca beat Czech Republic’s 15th-seeded Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova, 21-19, 21-17 in 32 minutes, USA’s 19th-seeded Luaren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson topped Austria’s ninth-seeded Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli, 21-19, 22-20 in 39 minutes and Russia’s 26th-seeded Anastasia Vasina/Anna Vozakova overcame Finland’s 28th-seeded Emilia Nystrom/Erika Nystrom, 18-21, 15-21 and 8-15 in 43 minutes.

In the second four first round elimination matches, Germany’s seventh-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig defeated Greece’s 17th-seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti/Maria Tsiartsiani, 22-20, 21-17 in 39 minutes, Brazil’s 25th-seeded Liliane Maestrini/Angela Vieira stopped Belgium’s 20th-seeded Katrien Gielen/Liesbeth Mouha, 21-14, 21-15 in 33 minutes, Switzerland’s 18th-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr outlasted Germany’s 22nd-seeded Jana Kohler/Julia Sude, 21-17, 23-25 and 15-5 in 52 minutes and Czech Republic’s 14th-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova eliminated Netherlands’ 29th-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel, 21-19, 24-22 in 39 minutes.

The eight teams that lost in the first women’s elimination bracket round Thursday finished tied for 17th in Klagenfurt and each will split $5,100 in prize money. The eight teams eliminated in pool play each finished tied for 25th in the tournament and leave Austria with $3,500 per team.

The last of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank in Klagenfurt, the women’s semifinals and medal matches will be played Saturday with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday as the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishing teams will each receive $18,400.

Winning their pools and earning the first round single-elimination bracket round byes with the opening match Friday against the winners of the late Thursday matches between the other 16 teams that qualified for the final rounds are USA’s 16th-seeded Angie Akers/Nicole Branagh, China’s second-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, Brazil’s third-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes, USA’s fourth-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, Brazil’s 12th-seeded Carolina Salgado/Maria Clara Salgado, Spain’s 11th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez, Austria’s 10th-seeded Doris Schwaiger/Stefanie Schwaiger and Netherland’s eighth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel

All but Brazil’s Salgado sisters were undefeated at 3-0 in the respective pools and the Salgados won their pool by way of tie breakers with a 2-1 record. China’s Xue/Zhang, Spain’s Baquerizo/Fernandez and Austria’s Schwaiger sisters were the only teams who won their pools without losing a set, each going 6-0 in sets in pool play along with their 3-0 records so far in Klagenfurt.

In Friday’s round of 16 matchups, it will be USA’s Akers/Branagh vs. Czech Republic’s Kolocova/Slukova, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel vs. Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr, Spain’s Baquerizo/Fernandez vs. Brazil’s Maestrini/Vieira, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh vs. Germany’s Goller/Ludwig, Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes vs. Russia’s Vasino/Vozakova, Austria’s Schwaiger/Schwaiger vs. USA’s Fendrick/Hanson, Brazil’s Salgado/Salgado vs. Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa and China’s Xue/Zhang vs. Italy’s Cicolari/Menegatti.

The 32 teams in the main draw were split into eight pools of four teams each playing three round-robin matches and the top three finishers in each advanced to the single-elimination bracket rounds.

Host country Austria had two of three teams advance from pool play. Besides the Schwaiger sisters, Austria’s Hansel/Montagnolli advanced with a 1-2 record from pool play but the Hansel/Montagnolli duo was eliminated late Thursday afternoon and end the tournament with a 17th-place finish.

In the biggest upset of pool play, USA’s Akers/Branagh clinched their pool by defeating Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa in three sets, 21-14, 20-22 and 15-13 in 49 minutes. In their first season playing together, this is the first time Akers/Branagh has defeated them as they lost to the Brazilian world champions in the Moscow Grand Slam a few weeks ago. After the match, USA’s Akers/Branagh upped their season record on the FIVB Swatch World Tour to 27-18 while Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa match record fell to 55-6.

China’s Xue/Zhang ended pool play with another strong performance and another two-set win, beating Czech Republic’s Hajeckova/Klapalova, 21-16, 22-20 in 35 minutes. China’s Xue/Zhang increased their season record to 48-15 with their final pool play win Thursday.

USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh, who have won the Klagenfurt gold medal four times, worked hard to earn their elimination round bye with a three-set win over Germany’s 13th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, 21-16, 17-21, and 15-11 in 44 minutes.  The loss eliminated Holtwick/Semmler from the tournament with an 0-3 pool play record and USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh are currently 44-9 after Thursday’s final pool play win.

Bringing their home-country fans to their feet on the packed center court, the very popular Austria’s Schwaiger sisters completed their pool sweep on Thursday by upsetting Germany’s Goller/Ludwig in straight sets, 21-9, 21-17 in just 32 minutes.

The talented field includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as at least one member of the men’s gold medal teams in Klagenfurt 12 of the previous 14 years and seven of the previous women’s gold medal winners. Three of the men’s gold medal teams are playing with new teammates at the extremely popular event and venue.

Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Klagenfurt were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), USA’s Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena (Silver), Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (bronze), Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo Santos (fourth place).

In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold, with silver going to Brazil’s Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima, the bronze was won by Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig and fourth place to Austria’s own Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli.  This year all but Cunha/Lima are still playing as last year’s silver medalists were eliminated in a country quota playoff match on Monday.

Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa also won the Klagenfurt gold medal in 2009. The other Klagenfurt gold medal team back this year is USA’s two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh who struck gold here together four times (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007) and Walsh also won here in 2004 with Rachel Wacholder.

The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.

After the A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank, the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour takes a week off for the 24-team women’s only Olympic test event in London’s Horse Guard’s Parade.  Following that event, Europe hosts the final two double-gender open events of 2011 in Aland, Finland from August 15-21 and The Hague, Netherlands from August 23-28.  The FIVB will then present the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Junior World Championships for players under 21 years old, August 31-September 4 in Halifax, Canada.

The $600,000 A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank is the 229th women’s event and 268th men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill).  The first men’s FIVB Swatch World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain. While this is the 25th year that the FIVB has sanctioned international pro beach volley events, it is the 23rd year of the men’s and 20th year of the women’s FIVB Swatch World Tour.

Also on-site this week at the Klagenfurt venue this week is a special production crew from IMG, the company that not only produces the live international telecasts of select matches, but also the weekly FIVB Swatch World Tour highlight show that is syndicated throughout the world.

For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, please visit www.fivb.org or visit the event website at www.beachvolleyball.at.
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