Stavanger, Norway, June 10, 2015 - After a week of “hot” weather in a “colorful” Croatian coastal city on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, the second stop on the SWATCH Major Series is being played in cooler conditions in a harbor bordering the sea to the west and Boknafjorden in the northeast.
The “cool” conditions at the US$800,000 Stavanger Major did not stop a “major” rebound by European champions Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel as the second-seeded team from The Netherlands is seeking to better their 25th-place finish at last week’s SWATCH Major Series stop in Croatia.
The Porec Major 25th matched the Dutch’s worst finish in 14 FIVB World Tour starts together and was deemed the low point of their partnership since Meppelink and Van Iersel failed to win a match in Croatia. One of the setbacks was to Australians Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy, who finished third in Porec for their best-ever international placement.
Meppelink and Van Iersel will have a chance to complete their reversal of fortunes Thursday when the Dutch face Bawden and Clancy again in a match that will determine the Pool B winner and a “bye” for the first-round of elimination later in the day. The loser will also net a spot in the elimination bracket, but will have to play a third-place finisher from one of the seven other pools.
After posting a 2-0 (21-10, 21-14) win in 30 minutes over 31st-seeded Ingrid Lunde/Vilde Solvoll of Norway, Meppelink and Van Iersel scored a 2-1 (15-21, 21-18, 15-7) win in 50 minutes over 18th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat of the United States. The 15th-seeded Bawden and Clancy also defeated the Americans (2-0, 22-20, 21-16, 40 minutes) and the Norwegians (2-0, 21-17, 21-16, 34 minutes).
Prior to the “Croatian collapse”, Meppelink and Van Iersel had placed second in the Moscow Grand where the Dutch dropped a two-set finale to Brazilians Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca. The No. 1-seeded team in the upcoming FIVB “senior” Beach Volleyball World Championships in The Netherlands (June 26-July 5), Meppelink and Van Iersel also earned a silver medal at last month’s FIVB “open” event in Switzerland (Lucerne).
The sixth stop on the 2015 FIVB World Tour calendar for women, the Stavanger Major continues through the weekend with the gold medal teams sharing the $57,000 first-place prize along with garnering 800 points towards their qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The women’s semi-final and medal matches will be played Saturday while the men’s “final four” contests will be staged Sunday.
Following this week’s SWATCH Major Series event, the FIVB World Tour crosses the Atlantic Ocean for an event in the United States in St. Petersburg, Fla. The June schedule ends with the start of the world championships in The Netherlands. Being played at for sites, world championships start (June 26) and end (with the medal matches July 4 for women and July 5 for men) in The Hague.