Fuzhou, China, April 24, 2015 – Sean Faiga/Ariel Hilman from Israel are entering their third year on the international circuit and began venturing onto the World Tour with four FIVB Open events in 2014.
From failing to qualify in Fuzhou at the beginning of last year, the pair went on to finish just outside the final four in Parana and Mangaung Opens as the 2014 season came to a close.
At the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Fuzhou Open 2015 this year Faiga/Hilman had little trouble entering the main draw, earning a bye in the first round of qualification thanks to the points they earned in 2014. In the second round they beat Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Artem Yarzutkin (RUS) 2-0 (21-16, 23-21) and were drawn in Pool F of the main draw.
The Israeli pair then took on Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros from Mexico and China’s Li Zhuoxin/Zhang Lizeng, digging deep to secure two, three set victories. The Israelis were beaten in their other pool match by former world champions Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands, but Faiga/Hilman still finished second in the pool.
Their first round match in the single elimination competition saw Faiga/Hilman pitted against USA’s Todd Rogers/Stafford Slick. The match was another three set thriller, with Rogers/Slick taking the win at the last hurdle 2-1 (22-24, 21-17, 15-12).
“We were there all the game and I think that the third set was even in the end so I’m disappointed that we lost.
"Our expectation was to get into the main draw from the qualifier and to go the highest possible that we can. The first round is not enough for us so we are a little bit disappointed.
"It is the first time that we get in, in Fuzhou, last year we lost in the qualifier so it’s progress for us but we should keep going,” said Faiga.
The Israeli team come into the new season after serious training away from home over the winter.
“Our preparation was long, we stayed for one month in Brazil and then one and a half months in USA so we know these guys, we practice with them and it was a really good preparation for the season.
“I think it is our goal to play all the Opens and try to get into the Grand Slam. If we get inside, I think anything will be possible.
We are confident because if we are not confident, we should go home,” said Faiga.