Lausanne, Switzerland, June 16, 2015 — Radiant Florida sunshine rained down on a special venue as eight men’s teams from seven countries relished the moments Tuesday to advance from two rounds of a qualification tournament to complete the field for Wednesday’s start of the 32-team main draw at the $800,000 FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam. The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour has crossed over the pond 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.
Advancing from two rounds of qualifying on the purpose-built site at the popular Spa Beach Park at the Pier on Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg are two teams from the United States along with one each from Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Norway, Puerto Rico and Switzerland.
This week’s FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam started with men’s qualifying on Tuesday followed by men’s pool play Wednesday with women’s qualifying on Wednesday followed by the start of pool play on Thursday. The men’s quarterfinals will be held Friday, semifinals and medal matches on Saturday and women’s quarterfinals on Saturday with their semifinals and medal matches on Sunday. The tournament format has a one-day qualification tournament to determine the final eight spots in each gender’s 32-team main draw tournaments followed by round-robin pool play and a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams.MOVING FORWARD
Following Tuesday’s two elimination rounds in the event’s qualification tournament, the eight teams who have earned spots in the 32-team main draw are Brazil’s 10th-seeded Gustavo Carvalhaes/Allison Francioni, Germany’s third-seeded Thomas Kaczmarek/Sebastian Fuchs, Mexico’s second-seeded Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen, Norway’s fifth-seeded Iver Horrem/Geir Eithun, Puerto Rico’s fourth-seeded Eric Haddock/Roberto-Rodriguez-Beltran, Switzerland’s eighth-seeded Jonas Kissling/Mats Kovatsch and USA’s top-seeded qualification team Ryan Doherty/John Mayer and USA’s 11th-seeded Trevor Crabb/Derek Olson.BACK IN THE USA
With the FIVB World Tour back in the USA for the third straight year following a 10-year absence, a total of 53 men’s teams from 29 countries selected by their national federations and 49 women’s teams from 22 countries selected by their national federations are officially entered in the Olympian-filled field in the second FIVB Grand Slam of 2015.TEAM USA
As the host nation, the United States has four men’s teams pre-seeded into the main draw and two teams that advanced from Tuesday’s qualification tournament. USA’s main draw teams are provisional top-seeded Tri Bourne/John Hyden, 18th-seeded Theo Brunner/Nick Lucena, seventh-seeded Sean Rosenthal/Stafford Slick, United States and 11th-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson. Men’s team in the qualifier from the USA is Ryan Doherty/John Mayer, United States.
As the host nation, the United States has four women’s teams pre-seeded into the main draw and five teams in the women’s qualification tournament. USA’s main draw teams are 12th-seeded April Ross/Whitney Pavlik, 21st-seeded Lane Carico/Kim DiCello, 18th-seeded Emily Day/Jennifer Kessy and 15th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat. Women’s teams in the qualifier from the USA are Nicole Branaugh/Jennifer Fopma, Brittany Hochevar/Heather McGuire, Angela Bansend/Greena Urango, Kendra Vanzwieten/Amanda Dowdy and Caitlin Ledoux/Irene Hester.TOP SEEDS
For the FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam, preliminary revised top men’s seeds are USA’s Tri Bourne/John Hyden, Brazil’s No. 2 Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, Poland’s No. 3 Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel, Brazil’s No. 4 Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos, Italy’s No. 5 Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai, Netherlands’ No. 6 Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst, USA’s No. 7 Sean Rosenthal/Stafford Slick, Germany’s No. 8 Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik, Brazil’s No. 9 Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Salgado and Russia’s No. 10 Viacheslav Kraslinikov/Konstantin Semenov.
For the FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam, preliminary revised top women’s seeds are Brazil’s No. 1 Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca, Germany’s No. 2 Katrin Holtick/Ilka Semmler, Brazil’s No. 3 Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Brazil’s No. 4 Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta, Czech Republic’s No. 5 Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, Spain’s No. 6 Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez, China’s No. 7 Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, Germany’s No. 8 Karla Borger/Britta Buthe and Germany’s No. 9 Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst and Italy’s No. 10 Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth.UPSET SPECIALS
With six of the top eight-seeded teams in the qualification tournament advancing to the main draw, recording the two seed breakthroughs were USA’s Crabb/Olson and Brazil’s Carvalhaes/Francioni. Playing together for the first time and after only one day of practice, USA’s Crabb/Olson, upset the much-more experienced sixth-seeded Austrian duo Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl in two sets, 21-15, 29-27 in 48 minutes. Brazil’s Carvalhaes/Francioni overcame battles with the heat that soared to nearly 100 degrees on the court with humidity hovering around 60 percent to earn a three-set win over Canada’s seventh-seeded Daniel Dearing/Garrett May, 21-17, 21-23 and 15-6 in 46 minutes.
Both teams had to win first round qualification matches as well. USA’s Crabb/Olson defeated Japan’s Junki Hatabe/Katsuhiro Shiratori, in three sets, 21-11, 20-22 and 15-8 in 52 minutes. Brazil’s Carvalhaes/Francioni started their day by beating Czech Republic’s Ondrej Hromadka/Tomas Salva, 21-13, 21-16 in 35 minutes.THE QUOTE OF IT
After his team’s second qualification to earn a spot in the field of 32, USA’s Crabb commented, “The way that we came back in that last set there and the way we finished it there in that last play too was all great. We've got a little bit of a home crowd right there cheering to help us out. The next step is tomorrow morning, whoever we play. It's one game at a time. This is our first time ever playing together. It's our first Grand Slam. We had one day of practice yesterday. That should be noted. We're looking forward to playing some of the best teams in the world."FIVB ST. PETERSBURG GRAND SLAM PURSE
The gold medal team 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 men’s semifinals and medal matches and the women’s quarterfinal matches will all be played on Saturday with the women’s semifinals and medal matches on Sunday.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.