Ostrava, Czech Republic, May 31, 2019 – As many as four women’s teams managed to win two matches each on Friday to move successfully from the pools’ survival matches in the morning through the first direct elimination round to book their spots in Saturday’s round of 16 at the four-star J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open 2019 main draw on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
One of them was Netherlands’ duo Sanne Keizer & Madelein Meppelink, who started their day with a 2-1 (24-26, 21-11, 15-13) win in the all-Dutch clash with Joy Stubbe & Marleen Ramond-van Iersel for the third place in Pool G. The sixth-seeded pair went on to knock out bottom-seeded Ukrainian sensations Diana Lunina & Maryna Samoday with a hard-earned 2-0 (23-21, 21-17) victory.
“This morning we had the Dutch battle. It was a good game and a tough one, so we are happy we won. It was a difficult switch to the next game to keep going, but we did a good job. In the first set we made it a bit exciting, but I think in the second set we controlled the game,” said Keizer, and added, “It’s an awesome location, the organization is really good, and people are very friendly. Every time I walk around here I see new stuff and I am just amazed and grateful we can play here.”
“The Ukrainian team had many good results lately and we were excited to play against them for the first time. They did a really good job. It was not easy and we had to fight for every ball,” Meppelink commented. “At this point, I have no idea who we play next, but we are looking forward to playing any match here, hopefully through the end.”
29th-seeded Greeks Vasiliki Arvaniti & Panagiota Karagkouni faced few issues in hammering out a 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) shutout of China’s Xinyi Xia & Fan Wang for the last ticket from Pool D. They continued their good performance into the first knockout round, where they managed a 2-1 (21-16, 16-21, 17-15) victory after denying a match point for their Russian opponents Nadezda Makroguzova & Svetlana Kholomina, to remain as the lowest seeded team still in contention.
Greece’s Vasiliki Arvaniti
27th-seeded Chen Xue & Xinxin Wang of China delivered sensational upset of eighth-seeded Canadians Sarah Pavan & Melissa Humana-Paredes. To book a spot in the next round, Xue & Wang survived a triple match point for the opponents in the tie-breaker on the way to a spectacular comeback for a 2-1 (21-17, 18-21, 17-15) win. Earlier on Friday, the Chinese pair also upset the highest ranked German duo, Sandra Ittlinger & Chantal Laboureur, seeded first at next month’s World Championship in Hamburg, by 2-0 (21-15, 22-20) for the third place in Pool F.
Katharina Schuetzenhoefer & Lena Plesiutschnig, seeded 28th, also knocked out a strong German team in their losers match in Pool E. The Austrians claimed a 2-0 (21-16, 29-27) win over Victoria Bieneck & Isabel Schneider, and went on to master a 2-1 (17-21, 21-16, 15-13) come-from-behind victory over Russia’s Ekaterina Birlova & Evgenia Ukolova.
Austria’s Schuetzenhoefer & Plesiutschnig in action on Friday
Having finished second in their pools on Thursday, three American teams - Sara Hughes & Summer Ross, Brooke Sweat & Kerri Walsh Jennings and Sarah Sponcil & Kelly Claes – and one Brazilian pair, Agatha Bednarczuk & Eduarda Santos Lisboa, had the luxury of needing only one win on Friday to progress to the second knockout round, and they all achieved it in straight sets.
Sponcil & Claes took a 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) victory over Switzerland’s Nina Betschart & Tanja Hueberli, the team that had upset Czech top seeds and defending Ostrava champs Barbora Hermannova & Marketa Slukova earlier in the day to knock them out of contention.
“We are so excited about this new partnership and we’ve been trying to just get a little bit better each tournament and each game we play,” Kelly Claes pointed out. “The Swiss are an amazing team. They’ve been together for a while and they’re great competitors. It’s fun to see our progress going through. We are so excited and we are ready to keep this momentum going.”
“I think we did a good job communicating throughout the game,” Sarah Sponcil added. “It’s easy to look far ahead, but we are just focusing on the next match, recovering, looking at our next opponent, and trying to get better at the things we didn’t do well in this game.”
Saturday’s programme kicks off at 09:30 local time and features the round of 16 and the quarterfinals.