Eight women’s teams advance to main draw at FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 17, 2015 — Another glorious day of glowing Florida sunshine illuminated eight women’s teams from five countries Wednesday who advanced from two rounds of a qualification tournament to complete the field for Thursday’s start of the 32-team main draw at the $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.

Advancing from two rounds of women’s qualifying on the purpose-built site at the popular Spa Beach Park at the Pier on Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg are the top eight-seeded qualification teams with three teams from Brazil, two from the United States along with one team each from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

This week’s FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam started with men’s qualifying on Tuesday followed by the start of men’s pool play Wednesday with women’s qualifying Wednesday followed by the start of women’s 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 had 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.

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.

ollowing 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 top-seeded qualification team Tiana Lima/Fernanda Alves, Brazil’s second-seeded Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado, Germany’s Julia Sude/Chantal Laboureur, Brazil’s fourth-seeded Liliane Maestrini/Carolina Horta Maximo, Austria’s fifth-seeded Barbara Hansel/Stefanie Schwaiger, Switzerland’s sixth-seeded Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, USA’s seventh-seeded Nicole Branagh/Jennifer Fopma and USA’s eighth-seeded Brittany Hochevar/Heather McGuire.

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.

As the host nation, the United States has four women’s teams pre-seeded into the main draw starting Thursday and Branagh/Fopma and Hochevar/McGuire were added from the women’s qualification tournament to give the USA six teams in the final 32. USA’s other main draw teams who will be in action starting Thursday 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.

In the longest match of the tournament so far at 74 minutes, USA’s Hochevar/McGuire came from way behind to overcome Germany’s ninth-seeded Julia Grossner/Victoria Bieneck in three sets, 21-18, 28-26 and 15-12. With the temperature hovering at over 102 degrees F, USA’s Hochevar/McGuire stayed as cool as the smart white sand court battling back for several match points before taking the lead at 24-23 and holding on for the set win in the highest-scoring set of the tournament so far.

Following the hard-fought match, Hochevar said, “"You know what, during the match, it was miserable, to be real honest. You've got one side that's hot and the other side that's hotter. Just managing the heat got tough, and I was terrible at the start of the second set. They switched and served me, and my vision wasn't real good, and that heat starts to settle in late in the second set. We called a timeout and I kind of had a meeting with myself because Heather was setting money, and at a home tournament to get knocked out of the qualifier when we've put in so much hard work, I didn't want to have that feeling. I got that feeling of how much it sucks to lose and got that emotion out of the way, and then made the decision that ‘no I'm a baller, I'm a gamer,’ and then we just turned it around as far as we won two really gnarly and gutsy rallies which are back breakers. For them to have match point five or maybe six times, and for us to just really gut it out said a lot about our team. Then I hugged Heather after that second set and I was like 'we're winning the third'."

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.

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.

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.

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.


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