Stavanger, Norway, June 11, 2015 - The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour stop in Stavanger has never been a successful site for Taiana Lima until this week as she reversed her past misfortunes with Fernanda Alves into something better after the Brazilians continued their “near-perfect” winning ways here Thursday in the US$800,000 Stavanger Major.
Lima, who finished out of the “money” in Stavanger by placing 33rd in both 2010 and 2011 with Vivian Cunha, and Fernanda have been playing since Tuesday in the second of three SWATCH Major Series events with a combined record of 5-1 for Country Quota, Qualification and Main Draw matches play on the Vagen Harbor courts. While Lima is appearing for the third time in the “oil” capital of Norway, Fernanda is playing here for the first-time.
After splitting a pair of Main Draw pool play matches Wednesday with a victory over an American rival and a setback to an Austrian pair, the fifth-seeded Lima and Fernanda posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) win in 36 minutes over 12th-seeded Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany to finish Pool E with a 2-1 pool mark.
Despite their success this week after failing to advance out of the country quota playoff rounds the past two weeks in Russia and Croatia, Lima and Fernanda finished third in their pool as Ludwig and Walkenhorst topped the pool with 28th-seeded Barbara Hansel and Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria placing second. All three teams tied with a 2-1 Main Draw pool play record, but the Germans had a plus-6 point ratio to win the group with the Austrians plus-3 and Lima/Fernanda minus-9.
With the late withdrawal of Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil, Lima and Fernanda are one of only six women’s teams in the 32-team Stavanger Major Main Draw that has won a “major” event on the FIVB World Tour. The Brazilians were the last of six teams to claim their “major” gold medal last season in The Netherlands.
Other pairs in the Stavanger Major with one “major” FIVB World Tour gold medals are Ekaterina Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova of Russia (Austria 2012), Carolina and Maria Clara Salgado (Russia 2013), Ludwig/Walkenhorst (Shanghai 2014), Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic (Germany 2014) and Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler of Germany (Switzerland 2014).
Lima did win three “major” FIVB World Tour gold medals when she teamed with Talita during the 2013 season in China, the United States and Germany when the Brazilians were the top-ranked team on the international circuit. The partnership lasted through five events at the start of the 2014 campaign before Talita “dropped” Lima to play with Larissa.
With Talita and Larissa becoming the “team to beat” on the FIVB World Tour with six-straight gold medal finishes together after placing ninth in their first two events, Lima and Fernanda have been on a roller-coaster ride after winning their second event together in The Hague. Playing in their ninth FIVB event, Lima and Fernanda have posted a fourth, three ninths and a 25th together along with the two country quota setbacks. Overall, the Brazilians have a 27-13 match mark together.
Brazil and Germany had two pairs each winning group titles Thursday to advance to the second-round of the elimination bracket with a “bye” and a guaranteed ninth in the competition. The second- and third-place finishers in each pool will play against each other in the opening elimination bracket round with the losers of those matches placing 17th.
Joining Ludwig/Walkenhorst as German pool winners Thursday to earn first-round elimination “byes” were 13th-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe of Germany (Pool D). Topping groups for Brazil were top-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil (Pool A) and the 14th-seeded Salgado sisters (Pool C).
Other pool winners were second-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands (Pool B), seventh-seeded Kolocova/Slukova (Pool G), 11th-seeded Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada (Pool F) and 25th-seeded Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug of Argentina (Pool H).
Gallay and Klug took advantage of a “lucky loser” berth in the Main Draw by defeating higher-seeded teams from Norway, Poland and Spain to advance to the second-round of elimination. One more win will give the Argentineans their best-ever finish in a “major” FIVB World Tour while a pair of victories will advance them to their first “final four” appearances. No women’s team from Argentina has ever placed on the FIVB World Tour podium.
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 four sites, world championships start (June 26) and end (with the medal matches July 4 for women and July 5 for men) in The Hague.