St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, June 19, 2015 — With weather conditions deemed unsafe to continue, three of eight women’s pool winners were decided Saturday as the last of three rounds of pool play were completed Friday for three groups as the last of pool play and elimination rounds begin Saturday at the double-gender $800,000 FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam. Being played through Sunday, the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour has returned from Europe for the first time in 2015 as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is visiting the United States for the 12th time overall and the state of Florida for the third time.
The five other pool winners will be decided Saturday morning as 24 teams will advance from the 32-team main draw field to the single-elimination rounds. Three teams from two countries won all three of their women’s pool play matches on the purpose-built site at the popular Spa Beach Park at the Pier on Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg. Two teams from Brazil along with one team each from Germany were 3-0 in pool play that was scheduled to end Friday.SUNSHINE SKED
With this week’s FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam starting with men’s qualifying on Tuesday and women’s qualifying on Wednesday, and after the 32-team main draws for each gender, the men’s quarterfinals, semifinals and medal matches will be held Saturday along with several of the final women’s pool play matches and two elimination rounds. Concluding the event on Sunday will be the women’s quarterfinals, semifinals and medal matches. WEATHER DELAY
While only a trace of rain fell on the venue Friday, safety officials ordered evacuation of the event site late morning with a delay of three hours before play resumed and then suspended all activity for the day and evacuated the event site again in the early evening because of lightning strikes in the vicinity. There were no lightning strikes within the event site or immediate perimeter.
FIVB regulations stipulate that the four women’s final pool play matches that were in progress when play was terminated for the day will be replayed in their entirety on Saturday morning.TV TIME
In addition to the international broadcast, NBC TV will air live beach action in the USA on Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET and on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET.POOL WINNERS
The three teams who won their respective pools Friday with unscathed 3-0 records to earn a bye in the first round of single elimination on Saturday are Brazil’s top-seeded Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes, Brazil’s third-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas and Germany’s 11th-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe.
The other women’s teams who are 2-0 after winning their first two round robin matches on Thursday are Brazil’s second-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Maria Antonelli, Italy’s fourth-seeded Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth, Brazil’s fifth-seeded Tiana Lima/Fernanda Alves, Canada’s sixth-seeded Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley, Spain’s ninth-seeded Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo, Germany’s 13th-seeded Julia Sude/Chantal Laboureur,
Czech Republic’s 14th-seeded Marketa Slukova/Chantal Laboureur and USA’s 23rd-seeded Jennifer Kessy/Emily DayUNBEATEN
Ending pool play with unblemished 3-0 marks heading into the knockout rounds were Brazil’s Larissa/Talita, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas and Germany’s Borger/Buthe. Brazil’s Larissa/Talita and Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas were both 6-0 in sets during their three pool victories while Germany’s Borger/Buthe were 6-1 in sets.Smart SEED BREAKTHROUGH
With 11 unfinished women’s matches Friday, the abbreviated schedule saw just one seed breakthrough as Germany’s 11th-seeded Borger/Buthe, who won the silver medal at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, upset Canada’s sixth-seeded Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley, 21-18, 21-12 in 38 minutes.SHE SAID IT
After finishing pool play with a 3-0 record, Brazil’s Larissa/Talita are hoping to win their seventh gold medal in just nine FIVB World Tour events as a team. Brazil’s Larissa/Talita closed out pool play Friday with another two-set victory, this time against China’s 16th-seeded Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, 28-26, 21-19 in 50 minutes. That match was suspended during the three hour weather delay Friday morning.
Talita commented after her team’s most recent victory, “We took the last tournament off to help us rest up and move forward. It’s a long season but we are getting better and better it seems. We got gold in seven of 10 events to win our national tour in Brazil so it’s a long season for us. We played good in pool play here in St. Petersburg but we can get stronger and better as a team and that’s what we are trying to do. The Chinese played well and we need good competition like them to help us grow as a team. We need to play happy, stay together, and learn more match by match what each other is thinking that will help us become a better team. We want to win this tournament and head back to Europe for next week’s FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands. In this tournament in St. Petersburg, the competition will get stronger and stronger and we need to just stay together mentally and good things will happen on the court.”
Looking retrospectively ahead, Talita said, “We have only played together for one year now and we have done well, but we can improve a lot. Our goal is to go home and win the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. We have started out strong, but our competition is getting stronger and stronger as well and we need to keep our edge to be successful and reach our goal of winning the Olympic gold medal.”FIVB ST. PETERSBURG GRAND SLAM PURSE
The gold medal teams in the FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam will split $57,000, the silver $43,000, the bronze $32,000 and fourth place $24,000. The event is a special first of its kind partnership between the international Olympic organization and sanctioning body FIVB, USA Volleyball and USA sanctioning body AVP.USA HISTORY
St. Petersburg is now one of 10 U.S. cities that have hosted an international FIVB beach volleyball event. Others have been Atlanta, Carson, Calif., Chicago, Clearwater, Fla., Hermosa Beach, Calif., Long Beach, Calif., Los Angeles, Miami and New York. The event in Atlanta was the 1996 Olympic Games, the first at which Beach Volleyball was a medal sport.
Through the 2014 event, the United States has hosted a total of 22 FIVB World Tour events (11 men, 11 women) with Brazil leading the medal count in both genders. In the men’s totals after 11 events, Brazil has 11 medals, followed by the USA with 10, Argentina, Norway and Switzerland with two each and with one men’s medal each the USA are Canada, Italy, Poland and Spain. After 11 FIVB World Tour women’s events held in the United States through 2014, Brazil leads the medal parade with 15 total medals followed by the USA with 13, Australia with three and with one women’s medal each in the USA are Germany and the Slovak Republic.MORE IN THE USA
Following this week’s event, the FIVB will return to the USA twice more in 2015 with the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam Aug. 18-23 in Southern California and the $500,000 Swatch FIVB World Tour Season Final in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Sept. 29-Oct. 4.GROWING HISTORY
The FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam is the 320th men’s event since the FIVB began men’s competition in 1987 and the 284th FIVB women’s tournament since they started in 1992.