Fort Lauderdale prepares for third FIVB World Tour event


The Fort Lauderdale Major welcomes the top teams on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour this week

Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 26, 2018 - For the second-straight February and the third-time in the last four seasons, the international beach volleyball circuit stops in south Florida this week as Fort Lauderdale Beach Park hosts the first Beach Major Series event on the 2018 calendar.

The $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major officially begins here Tuesday with qualifying where eight teams from both the men’s and women’s preliminary rounds will advance to the 32-team Main Draws where modified pool play begins Wednesday. Play continues through the weekend with the women’s final on Saturday and the men’s medal matches on Sunday on the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park center court.

More than 120 men’s and women’s teams from 34 countries entered the Fort Lauderdale Major where the winning teams will share the $40,000 first-place prizes for the eighth men’s and sixth women’s event on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour schedule.

While the women will be competing their first event since a February 4 tournament in Shepparton, Australia, the men will be playing for the second-straight week as Poland’s Mariusz Prudel and Jakub Szalankiewicz defeated Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs of Latvia 2-0 (21-18, 24-22) in a 35-minute gold medal match on Saturday in Iran on Kish Island.

Both of the Kish Island 2018 finalists will be competing in Fort Lauderdale with Plavins and Tocs starting play Wednesday in the Main Draw while Prudel and Szalankiewicz must win qualifying matches Tuesday to advance to the money rounds. Both teams started the season in January at The Hague where Plavins and Tocs topped the podium with Prudel and Szalankiewicz placed fifth after being eliminated in the quarterfinals by compatriots Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak.

The 2018 Fort Lauderdale Major field returns the defending men's champions Saymon Barbosa and Alvaro Filho of Brazil. After winning a qualifying match to earn a spot in the Main Draw in 2017, Saymon and Alvaro won seven more matches highlighted by a 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) gold medal win in 39 minutes over compatriots Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola.

Alvaro Filho (left) and Saymon Barbosa of Brazil

Due to the pregnancy of Talita Antunes, a new women’s champion will be crowned this season in Fort Lauderdale. Talita and Larissa Franca were perfect in Fort Lauderdale as the Brazilian pair won 13-straight matches by capturing both the 2015 FIVB World Tour Finals and the 2017 Fort Lauderdale Major gold medals.

After defeating eventual Rio 2016 Olympic and 2017 world champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst for the 2015 Fort Lauderdale gold medal, Talita and Larissa conquered Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Duda Lisboa 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) in the 38-minute all-Brazilian finale last February 12.

Headlining the 2018 Fort Lauderdale men's field will be the past three World Championship winning teams along with Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. Evandro/Andre (Vienna 2017) and Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt (The Hague 2015) captured the past two World Championship gold medals for Brazil while Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands topped the 2013 World Championship podium in Stare Jablonki, Poland.

Other top men's team in the Main Draw are Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria, Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin of Russia. Joining Dalhausser/Lucena in the Main Draw for the United States are Jake Gibb/Taylor Crabb, John Hyden/Theo Brunner and Stafford Slick/Casey Patterson.

With Talita and Larissa missing, the top-ranked women's team in the women's Main Draw will be Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan. Playing their first full-season together in 2017, Humana-Paredes and Pavan posted seven final four finishes last season in eight events with a gold medal finish at the Porec Major in Croatia along with silver medals in Brazil and Poland, and a third-place finish in Switzerland.

Melissa Humana-Paredes (left) and Sarah Pavan of Canada

Other top women's teams include Barbara Seixas/Fernanda Alves and Agatha/Duda of Brazil, Barbora Hermannová/Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova/Michala Kvapilová of the Czech Republic, Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude of Germany, and Nina Betschart/Tanja Hüberli and Joana Heidrich/Anouk Vergé-Dépré and Switzerland.

The United States has placed four women's pairs in the 2018 Fort Lauderdale money rounds, including Lauren Fendrick/Nicole Branagh, Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes, April Ross/Alexandra Klineman and Brooke Sweat/Summer Ross. Sweat and Summer Ross are listed eighth on the FIVB ranking list while April Ross and Klineman won The Hague Open at the start of January in their first ever FIVB World Tour event together.

The Fort Lauderdale Major will feature night-time action Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park centre court.

Following the Fort Lauderdale Major, men’s play continues in March with three events scheduled for Doha, Qatar (March 6-10), Oman (March 14-17) and Aalsmeer, the Netherlands (March 15-18). The women resume play from April 8 to 11 as Thailand hosts the FIVB World Tour in Satun.