Beautiful save by Sara Hughes in the match against fellow Americans Walsh Jennings and Branagh
Ostrava, Czech Republic, June 22, 2018 – After many exciting battles on the four sand courts in Ostrava on Friday, the last 16 per gender at the four-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour have emerged.
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The first elimination round in the women’s competition featured as many as two all-American clashes. In the day’s longest running match, sixth-seeded Sara Hughes and Summer Ross persevered through three sets and 52 minutes of a fierce battle against 18th-seeded compatriots Kerri Walsh Jennings and Nicole Branagh to emerge with a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 (18-21, 22-20, 18-16) victory.
In the other USA vs. USA duel, 25th-seeded Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen delivered a feel-good 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) shutout of 17th-seeded Lauren Fendrick and Lane Carico and said that they are ready to go all the way.
“We are feeling really good!” Stockman commented. “Kelley and I are a new team and we are getting better every time we step on the court, so it’s really exciting.”
“Yes, we are stoked to be moving on to tomorrow! Against the other US team we played well, we played good defence and scored some good points at good times,” Larsen added.
In another truly nail-biting match of the first round of women’s single elimination, Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan, seeded 26th, pulled off a 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 20-18) win over 15th-seeded Russians Svetlana Kholomina and Nadezda Makroguzova. This was their second win of the day after the 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) victory over Finland’s Taru Lahti-Liukkonen and Anniina Parkkinen in pool play earlier in the morning.
The other teams, who won their first round matches and moved on to face the pool winners in Saturday’s second round, were Germany’s Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger, Czech Republic’s Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova, Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink, Switzerland’s Nina Betschart and Tanja Hueberli and Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson.
Aerial view of the centre court at Ostrava
On the men’s side, the day opened with the two postponed matches from Thursday evening. Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak and Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov came out victorious to qualify directly to the second round of single elimination.
A first-round duel between top-seeded Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Andre Loyola Stein and third-seeded Dutchmen Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen was the real pearl in the day’s men’s programme. In front of packed stands at centre court, the stellar line-up put on a high-level beach volleyball show, which ended at 2-0 (27-25, 21-19) in favour of the European side. For the Dutch pair this was the second big win for the day. In the Pool C losers’ match against Norway’s Anders Berntsen Mol and Christian Sandlie Sorum, they came back from a first-set scare to turn things around to a 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-12) victory.
Over-the-net duel between Meeuwsen and Andre
Poland’s Mariusz Prudel and Jakub Szalankiewicz, seeded 18th, also hammered out two big wins on Friday. First, they came from behind against the home team of Jan Dumek and Vaclav Bercik on the way to a 2-1 (21-16, 19-21, 15-11) victory. Then, they shut out sixth-seeded Austrians Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst 2-0 (22-20, 21-17) to advance to the next round.
“In the first match, against the Czech team, we didn’t play our best game, but we did what we needed to win in the end,” Mariusz Prudel said. “It was a really hard game against Clemens and Alex. We were losing 14-10, but we didn’t give up and made it. That was very important to us – we played very well and this is a big win for us. We are getting better and tomorrow we’ll be very good...”
Seventh-seeded Brazilians Pedro Solberg and Bruno Oscar Schmidt also had to deal with two tie-breakers on Friday, but managed to win both and stay in contention. They started their day with a tough 2-1 (21-19, 20-22, 15-7) victory over Chile’s Esteban Grimalt and Marco Grimalt and went on to claim a 2-1 (21-13, 14-21, 15-9) win over Canada’s Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter.
Netherlands’ Christiaan Varenhorst and Jasper Bouter, Czech Republic’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner, Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs, Spain’s Pablo Herrera Allepuz and Adrian Gavira Collado and Russia’s Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Nikita Liamin won the remaining first-round matches and completed the line-up for the second round.