Americans Kelly Claes (left) and Sarah Hughes celebrate a point during their second round elimination win Friday at the Rio Open
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 19, 2016 - What was setting up here Friday afternoon for the advancement of six Brazilian women’s teams to the quarter-finals at the US$300,000 Rio Open turned out to have only three “elite eight” qualifiers from the South American country as teams from Canada, the Czech Republic and the United States served as “spoilers”.
Being played at the tennis center located at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca where wet and rainy conditions presistent throughout Friday competition, top-seeded Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca, fourth-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa and fifth-seeded Fernanda Alves/Barbara Seixas proved successful for Brazil as ninth-seeded Taiana Lima/Elize Maia, 14th-seeded Josemari Alves/Liliane Maestrini and 18th-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Carolina Salgado dropped matches in the second-round of elimination.
Playing a team that also competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games like the Brazilians, Talita and Larissa posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) win in 30 minutes over Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy of Australia. It was the Brazilians fifth victory in as many FIVB World Tour matches between the two teams as each confrontation was won in two sets by Talita and Larissa.
At the Rio Summer Games on Copacabana last August as both Brazilians were competing in their third Olympic Games, Talita and Larissa finished fourth while Bawden and Clancy placed fifth. Both dropped their final matches on Copacabana to April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States, who claimed the Rio Olympic bronze medal.
While Agatha/Duda and Fernanda/Barbara survived three-set “upset bids” by teams from Switzerland and Canada, respectively, Taiana/Elize were eliminated by Kelly Claes/Sarah Hughes of the United States 2-1 (10-21, 21-18 15-9) in 41 minutes. The Americans entered this week’s event after playing collegiately the last two weeks where Claes and Hughes led the University of Southern California to the team national title before claiming the country’s individual crown.
While the seven teams in the quarter-finals had to play one match Friday after winning their pools Thursday, Claes and Hughes posted three wins Friday starting with victories over 27th-seeded qualifiers Jagoda Gruszczynska/Kinga Kolosinska of Poland 2-0 (21-15, 22-20) in 34 minutes and 23rd-seeded Marta Menegatti/Rebecca Perry of Italy 2-0 (21-17, 21-12) in 29 minutes.
Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, who are seeded 11th in the Rio Open and posted pool play wins Thursday over Claes/Hughes and Bawden/Clancy, advanced to the quarter-finals with a 2-0 (22-20, 21-13) win in 34 minutes over Juliana and Carolina. The Brazilians were playing their sixth match this week after starting Tuesday with country quota and Wednesday with qualifying wins to gain a spot in the “money” rounds.
Seventh-seeded Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova, who represented the Czech Republic in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, scored a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) win in 37 minutes over Josemari and Liliane to deny the host country another quarter-final berth.
German pairs still in the competition are second-seeded Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst and third-seeded Chantel Laboureur/Julia Sude as the two teams advanced Friday with wins over tandems from the Ukraine and The Netherlands, respectively. Ludwig and Walkenhorst are the reigning Olympic champions after defeating Talita/Larissa in the semi-finals and Agatha/Barbara in the gold medal match.
Kira Walkenhorst (right) celebrates with German partner Laura Ludwig
Here is Saturday’s quarter-finals matches with the winning teams advancing to the afternoon semi-finals. The Rio Open medal matches for both women and men will be played Sunday morning with the winning teams sharing the $20,000 first-place prizes.
• Ludwig/Walkenhorst, Germany vs. Humana-Paredes/Pavan, Canada
• Laboureur/Sude, Germany vs. Hermannova/Slukova, Czech Republic
• Agatha/"Duda", Brazil vs. Claes/Hughes, United States
• Fernanda/Barbara, Brazil vs. Talita/Larissa, Brazil
Following the Rio Open, the next stop on the FIVB World Tour will be May 31-June 4 in Moscow for a three-star event in the Russian capital. Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.