Upsets highlight Fort Lauderdale Major women’s play on Wednesday


Kim Behrens (right) hugs partner Sandra Ittlinger after the 23rd-seeded German team's second win Wednesday at the Fort Lauderdale Major

Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 28, 2018 – Only three of the top eight seeded women’s teams in the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major advanced unbeaten through modified pool play here Wednesday as pairs from Australia, Brazil, Germany and the United States posted seed-breakthrough wins to earn a bye for the elimination phase of the competition in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event.

With the international beach volleyball circuit returning to Fort Lauderdale Beach Park for the third-time in the last four seasons, the German pairs of 21st-seeded Karla Borger/Margareta Kozuch and 23rd-seeded Kim Behrens/Sandra Ittlinger led the surprises on Wednesday as each posted a pair of wins to advance to the second round of elimination bracket play on Friday with six other modified pool play winners.

Behrens and Ittlinger posted a 2-1 (15-21, 22-20, 15-13) win in 47 minutes in their first match on Wednesday over 10th-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa of Brazil, who placed second in the 2017 Fort Lauderdale Major. The Germans secured the Pool G title by defeating 26th-seeded Joy Stubbe/Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands 2-0 (21-16, 21-12) in 30 minutes. Earlier Wednesday, the Dutch upset seventh-seeded Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland 2-1 (16-21, 21-15, 16-14) in 50 minutes.

After upsetting 12th-seeded Alix Klineman/April Ross of the United States 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) in a 40-minute Pool E match, Borger and Kozuch secured the group title with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-14) win in 33 minutes over 28th-seeded Valentyna Davidova/Ievgeniia Shchypkova of the Ukraine.  The Ukrainians started the day with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-11, 15-10) win in 46 minutes against fifth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Carolina Salgado of Brazil.

Other teams breaking through Wednesday were ninth-seeded Fernanda Alves/Barbara Seixas of Brazil, 11th-seeded Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes of the United States and 14th-seeded Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy of Australia. Protecting their seeds were top-seeded Nicole Branagh/Lauren Fendrick of the United States, second-seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan of Canada and fourth-seeded Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic.

The women’s competition at the Fort Lauderdale Major concludes Saturday with the semifinal and medal matches on the Fort Lauderdale Beach Park center court. The men’s podium placement matches will be played on Sunday. The winning teams will share the $40,000 first-place prizes.