Ljubljana, Slovenia, November 28, 2018 – Less than four months after Ljubljana hosted its first ever FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in early August, the Slovenian capital is ready to welcome its second double-gender one-star event, this time for an indoor winter edition at the Ludus Sports Park in Crnuce from November 29 through December 2.
A total of 79 duos (52 men’s and 27 women’s teams) from 31 different countries have registered to take part in the tournament and battle it out for the larger pieces of the $10,000 prize pie. In each gender, a 16-team main draw will feature a modified pool play system with the top three teams in each four-team pool progressing into the single elimination stage. The pool winners will advance directly to the quarterfinals, while for the pool runners-up and the third-placed pairs one additional elimination round will take place before the quarters. With 12 duos seeded directly into the main draw, the remaining four spots will be contested in qualifications to be played on Thursday.
Aliaksandr Dziadkou and Pavel Piatrushka of Belarus top the men’s preliminary seeding based on entry points. While experienced Dziadkou will take a shot at winning his first World Tour medal, for his current partner Piatrushka the participation in Ljubljana will be his first appearance on the Tour.
Poland’s Kacper Kujawiak and Mateusz Paszkowski are the next best ranked team ahead of the Ljubljana one-star stop. 24-year-old Kujawiak, 2014 U21 world champion, 2012 U19 world champion and 2015 U22 European champion, and 21-year-old Paszkowski are aiming for their first podium finish on the World Tour.
Selcuk Sekerci and Safa Urlu complete the top three on the list. After returning to the Tour for a couple of events at home in Turkey back in May, 34-year-old Sekerci will be back in action, for the first time teaming up with 24-year-old Urlu. Both of these Turkish players have never finished in the top three of a World Tour competition and will be looking for their maiden medals.
Four Slovenian teams and one each from Australia, Czechia, Germany, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands make up the remaining duos seeded directly into the men’s main draw and awaiting four more additions emerging from Thursday’s qualifications.
Danijel Pokersnik and Gasper Plahutnik are the best ranked home pair in the men’s tournament. "I think we are in quite a good shape. We trained hard and prepared well for the tournament,” Plahutnik said. “But it all starts with the official matches, so we will have to wait some more to see where we belong at this moment. The teams that are coming to Ljubljana play beach volleyball on a high level and I am sure we will witness a strong tournament."
The women’s pair with the most entry points to their names comes from Ukraine. 26-year-old Diana Lunina and Maryna Samoday debuted as a team at the Ljubljana summer edition in August and finished ninth. They followed up with appearances at Qinzhou and Yangzhou in the fall and on all three occasions managed to pass through the qualifications successfully, only to return to Ludus as the highest ranked duo.
Next in line are Vytene Vitkauskaite and Urte Andriukaityte of Lithuania. While 25-year-old Vitkauskaite is making her first appearance on the World Tour, her 21-year-old partner will be playing her 11th tournament with two fifth place finishes in 2018 as her best results so far.
Sweden’s Isabelle Pаhlsson and Anniken Rаdstrоm come in third in the women’s preliminary ranking. Both of them marked their first participations in the World Tour earlier in 2018 before teaming up for the Agadir two-star in July. The Ljubljana winter edition will be their third World Tour stop together and they will be playing for their first medals.
The host country will be represented by four duos in the women’s main draw as well. The other five teams with secure spots come from Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Scotland and Switzerland. Thursday’s qualifications will determine which four other teams to join the main draw.
Nina Lovsin and Ana Skarlovnik are fifth in the preliminary seeding, representing the Slovenian women’s team with the most entry points. "Although this will be our first tournament together with Ana, I am sure we can deliver a good performance,” Lovsin commented. “I know most of the teams. Many of them already have experience on the international level. I expect tough competition and if I have to point out my favourites, I would say this would be the Italians.”
“We play qualifications tomorrow and we don't know any of the teams,” said Elena Colombi and Sara Breidenbach, the Italians Lovsin referred to. “But we know ourselves. For us this will be the first international appearance. Our goal is to play at the highest level possible and we have been preparing for this tournament for two months. We played well in the Italian championship and we came here with high expectations. We hope we will deliver our best performance. This is part of our philosophy. To have high goals also means to sometimes achieve them. Why not do it here?”