Lausanne, Switzerland, May 27, 2019 - The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour returns to sites in the Czech Republic and China this week while the participants at the upcoming FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Germany await confirmation of their entry points to learn their draw positions in the drawing of lots at next week’s event in Hamburg.
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After completing two stops in Asia last week for double gender events in China and the Philippines, the FIVB World Tour begins action this week in the Czech Republic on Wednesday with men's and women's qualifying at the $300,000 J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open.
With defending women’s champions Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic in the field, the J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open money rounds begin on Thursday with pool play followed by the knockout rounds on Friday and the medal matches on Sunday where the winning pairs will split the $20,000 first place prizes.
Centre Court at the Ostrava event in 2018
On Thursday, the $25,000 Silk Road Nantong Open starts for the third annual women's only event with qualifying that sets the field for main draw pool play on Friday followed by elimination bracket draw on Saturday and the final four matches on Sunday where the winning team will share the $4,000.
Six of the eight teams that competed in the final fours at the inaugural J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open in 2018 are entered in this week's event, including gold medal winners Hermannova/Slukova and Spaniards Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera. Hermannova and Slukova defeated Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson of Canada 2-1 (17-21, 21-15, 15-13) in the 54-minute women's Ostrava finale last June.
The Canadians are also in the 2019 field along with last year's fourth-place finishers Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider of Germany, who dropped the 2018 Ostrava bronze medal match to compatriots Karla Borger/Margareta Kozuch. Borger and Kozuch are both entered in the 2019 J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open. Borger is now playing with Julia Sude and Kozuch is paired with 2016 Olympic and 2017 FIVB world champion Laura Ludwig.
In the men's 2018 Ostrava event, Gavira and Herrera posted a 2-1 (27-25, 15-21, 15-11) gold medal win in 51 minutes over Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland while Russians Konstantin Semenov/Ilya Leshukov defeated Ondrej Perusic/David Schweiner of the Czech Republic 2-1 (14-21, 21-18, 26-24) in 62 minutes over the bronze medal. Kantor and Losiak are late withdrawals this season as the Polish pair forfeited the bronze medal match two weeks ago in Itapema, Brazil.
The 2018 Ostrava podium with Polish, Canadian, Spanish, Czech, Russian and German players
In Nantong, two of the three podium placing teams from the 2018 Silk Road event return, including Gaia Traballi/Agata Zuccarelli of Italy and Phoebe Bell/Jessyka Ngauamo of Australia. The Italians dropped the gold medal match to Josemari Alves/Liliane Maestrini of Brazil while the Aussies defeated Ayumi Kusano/Takemi Nishibori of Japan for the third spot on the podium.
In action last week, Americans Brooke Sweat and Kerri Walsh Jennings entered the FIVB World Tour record book by defeating Australians Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy in the women’s finale in Jinjiang, China. In addition to being one of 21 women’s team to win a World Tour event after qualifying for the main draw, Sweat and Walsh Jennings became the oldest women’s team to win an FIVB gold medal.
Record-setting Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings (left) and Brooke Sweat
With the three-time Olympic and world champion hitting the 700-match win mark on Saturday in a quarterfinal win over Kozuch and Ludwig, the 40-year-old Walsh Jennings also became the oldest player to win a women’s FIVB World Tour gold medal. Walsh Jennings has now won 56 FIVB gold medals to rank second overall while Sweat was topping a World Tour podium for the first time.
China - Jinjiang, May 22-26, US$150,000, FIVB women's event No. 397
1. Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings, United States, $20,000
2. Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy, Australia, $16,000
3. Rebecca Cavalcanti/Ana Patricia Silva, Brazil, $10,000
4. Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa, Brazil, $8,000
Gold - Sweat/Walsh Jennings def. Artacho/Clancy, 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) (34)
Bronze - Ana Patricia/Rebecca def. Agatha/Duda, 2-0 (21-19, 21-15) (31)
In the men’s finale, Anders Mol and Christian Sorum won their third gold medal this season and sixth overall as the Norwegians out-lasted Brazilians and past FIVB world champions Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Oscar Schmidt in three sets.
Amazement for Anders Mol (left) and Norwegian partner Christian Sorum
China - Jinjiang, May 22-26, US$150,000, FIVB men's event No. 432
1. Anders Mol/Christian Sorum, Norway, $20,000
2. Evandro Goncalves/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, Brazil, $16,000
3. Andre Loyola/George Wanderley, Brazil, $10,000
4. Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb, United States, $8,000
Gold - Mol/Sorum def. Evandro/Bruno, 2-1 (14-21, 21-17, 15-12) (50)
Bronze - Andre/George def. Bourne/Crabb, 2-0 (21-17, 21-10) (33)
Teams from Thailand and Japan captured the men’s and women’s gold medals last week in Boracay as the FIVB World Tour returned to the Philippines for the second straight season. The women’s finale marked the third time that two Japanese teams vied for the gold medal as Satono Ishitsubo/Asami Shiba bested compatriots Sakurako Fujii/Minori Kumada for the title.
Philippines - Boracay, May 23-26, US$5,000, FIVB men's event No. 433
1. Narongdet Kangkon/Banlue Nakprakhong, Thailand, $1,000
2. Yuya Ageba/Nobuaki Taira, Japan, $700
3. Jumpei Ikeda/Katsuhiro Shiratori, Japan, $400
4. Simon Baldauf/Maximilian Trummer, Austria, $400
Gold - Kangkon/Nakprakhong def. Ageba/Taira, 2-1 (19-21, 22-20, 15-8) (51)
Bronze - Ikeda/Shiratori def. Baldauf/Trummer 2-1 (16-21, 26-24, 16-14) (46)
Narongdet Kangkon (left) and Banlue Nakprakhong of Thailand
Philippines - Boracay, May 23-26, US$5,000, FIVB women's event No. 398
1. Satono Ishitsubo/Asami Shiba, Japan, $1,000
2. Sakurako Fujii/Minori Kumada, Japan, $700
3. Brittany Kendall/Stefanie Weiler, Australia, $500
4. Tjasa Jancar/Tjasa Kotnik, Slovenia, $400
Gold - Ishitsubo/Shiba def. Fujii/Kumada, 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) (32)
Bronze - Kendall/Weiler def. Jancar/Kotnik, 2-1 (23-25, 21-13, 15-13) (46)
Following this week's events, the FIVB World Tour remains in China for a women's only event in Nanjing (June 6-9), while also sanctioning a double gender stop in Europe at Baden, Austria (June 6-10). The final weekend of competition prior to the 2019 FIVB World Championships in Germany will be played June 12-16 in Poland (Warsaw) and Greece (Ios). The FIVB World Championships will be staged June 28 through July 7 in Hamburg.