Olympic champs upset twice on opening day in Cagliari

Switzerland’s Betschart & Huberli start World Tour Finals off with two wins

The very first day of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals in Cagliari delivered some unexpected results, with reigning Olympic champions April Ross and Alix Klineman, who claimed gold at Tokyo 2020 just a couple of months ago, surprisingly finding themselves on the losing end of both three-setters they played on Wednesday.

In fact, three of the four matches on the women’s Pool A first-day programme were decided in tie-breakers. Switzerland’s Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli opened the tournament with a 2-1 (16-21, 26-24, 15-12) victory over Germany’s Karla Borger and Julia Sude and, later in the day, followed up with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) clean slate against the Italian wild-card pairing of Marta Menegatti and 18-year-old Valentina Gottardi to become the first team with two wins in the tournament and top the pool standings.

“We are super happy that we won two times today, at the World Tour Finals where the best 10 teams of the world are competing. I like our second game a little better. I think we were more stable. We knew only one of the Italian players, Marta. We know she is a good player and she is also a player who can help the other player a lot with her skills, with her technique. Valentina is a really talented player. She played really well and I think they needed a good game from us as well,” Betschart told Volleyball World. “I look forward to tomorrow and I hope that we can keep winning.”

Nina Betschart in flight

The first team to upset April and Alix were Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina. They lost the first set to the Americans in overtime, but came back to win the next two on the way to a 2-1 (22-24, 21-19, 15-10) victory. The first competition day in Pool A finished with a match between April and Alix and Borger and Sude. The Germans snatched the first set narrowly, lost the second by a wide margin, but recovered to dominate the decider for a 2-1 (22-20, 13-21, 15-8) win.

Pool B opened with three matches on Wednesday. USA’s Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes came back from a set down against Swiss wild cards Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich to claim a 2-1 (19-21, 21-14, 15-11) victory. World champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada mastered a tough 2-0 (21-17, 25-23) shutout of Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink. In the last match of the day’s programme in Cagliari, the Canadians produced one more straight-setter, a hard-earned 2-0 (21-18, 22-20) over the world’s number one team, Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa of Brazil.

Sarah Pavan in action

More from the day in Cagliari:
Perusic & Schweiner start off World Tour Finals with two wins

Quick links:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020