Two Spanish and two Russian teams also among Ostrava qualifiers
Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam stole the show in Ostrava on Wednesday as they delivered a sensational upset of qualification bracket top seeds Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat to become one of eight teams to progress to the main draw of the 4-star event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
The 16th-seeded Dutch pair mastered a 2-1 (21-18, 19-21, 15-12) victory in the deciding qualifier and practically put an end to the Tokyo Olympic aspirations of legendary Walsh Jennings, who was on the podium at the previous four Olympics, winning three golds and a bronze.
Seven more women’s teams took two wins each in Wednesday’s qualifications to fill the remaining vacancies in the J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open 32-team main draw.
Finland’s Riikka Lehtonen and Niina Ahtiainen were the first team to book a spot in the main draw, but only after two tight and nervous matches. In the first qualification round, the seventh-seeded pair battled it out for a 2-1 (21-14, 19-21, 15-10) victory over Poland’s Agata Ceynowa and Marta Lodej. In a second-round decider, the Finns managed a late second set comeback to knock out Austria’s Dorina Klinger and Ronja Klinger in straight sets, 2-0 (21-18, 22-20).
“It wasn’t so easy a day for us. I think the first game was quite difficult. We couldn’t find our rhythm in the game, but we managed to win, so it’s nice. For me, this is a really special place, because I lived in Czechia for three years, so I hope to see some familiar faces in the crowd,” Ahtiainen told Volleyball World.
“We started well in the first match, but our game was a little bit nervous what it hasn’t been lately. What is really nice is that when we went to the third set, we found our rhythm and we made it,” Lehtonen added. “It was the same in the second game. They also came well; they were serving well, changing the rhythm with their serves, but we managed to keep it calm enough and good enough to make it a 2-0. This is a great venue. I really like it, so I am happy to go into the main draw and continue with the games here. It’s exciting! Two nervous games today are now behind us and we are immediately putting our thoughts into the main draw. Lately we’ve made some steps in our game, so we are looking forward to making some more...”
In a really competitive all-Spanish second-round encounter, fifth-seeded Amaranta Navarro and Angela Lobato came out on top with a narrow 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 17-15) win to advance to the main draw and knock compatriots Daniela Alvarez Mendoza and Tania Moreno Matveeva out of contention. In the first round, Amaranta and Lobato claimed a 2-0 (21-16, 23-21) victory over Norway’s Frida Berntsen and Oda Ulveseth.
Another Spanish duo, sixth-seeded Paula Soria and Maria Belen Carro, also progressed after cruising to two convincing shutouts, 2-0 (21-12, 21-10) against Poland’s Kinga Legieta and Aleksandra Gromadowska and 2-0 (21-12, 21-11) against Russia’s Mariia Bocharova and Aleksandra Ganenko.
Anastasiia Frolova and Maria Voronina of Russia produced a 2-1 (21-16, 17-21, 15-12) second-round upset of third-seeded Marleen van Iersel and Pleun Ypma of the Netherlands, while their compatriots Ksenia Dabizha and Daria Rudykh advanced after a 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) win over Ukraine’s Inna Makhno and Iryna Makhno.
In their second-round match, Canada’s Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara took a 2-0 (23-21, 21-13) victory over Netherlands’ Emi van Driel and Mexime van Driel. Second-seeded Germans Kim Behrens and Sandra Ittlinger claimed a 2-0 (21-16, 28-26) win over France’s Lezana Placette and Alexia Richard.