Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2017 - The meeting of the planet’s top beach volleyball players in the Russian capital for the 10th-straight season opened here Tuesday with five country quota matches for pairs from Brazil and the United States on the stadium court at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre.
The $175,000 FIVB World Tour stop in Moscow officially begins Wednesday with men’s and women’s qualification as Tuesday country quota contests featured participants from the past two Summer Games along with a youth Olympian from the Nanjing 2014 competition.
Men’s and women’s teams from both the North and South American countries advanced to the next phase of the Moscow event as this week’s event marks the sixth double gender tournament on the 2017 international calendar that started in early February in the United States and last stopped two weeks ago in Brazil.
The schedule for Wednesday’s 24-team men’s and women’s qualification tournament will be announced at mid-day Wednesday after the morning check-in as eight pairs from each’s gender’s preliminary rounds will advance to Thursday’s opening pool play matches. The elimination rounds will be played Friday and Saturday to set the lineup for Sunday's medal matches. The winning duos in each gender’s competition will share the $10,000 first-place prizes.
“This is a tough match today as either team is good enough to qualify for the Main Draw” said Pedro Solberg, who teamed with Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes to score a 2-1 (21-16 16-21, 15-11) win in 51 minutes over Brazilian rivals Vitor Felipe and George Wanderley. “I am glad that we won, but I am disappointed for Vitor and George.”
A ninth-place finisher at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Evandro Goncalves, 31-year old Solberg is competing in his 137th FIVB World Tour event as the Brazilian has captured 17 gold medals with five different partners since starting his international career full-time in 2006.
Guto, who captured a World Tour gold medal last season enroute to becoming the international circuit’s rookie-of-the-year, and Solberg are playing in their third FIVB event together. Earlier this season, Guto/Solberg netted a 17th in the season-opening Fort Lauderdale Major in the United States and ninth at the Rio Open.
Vitor is a two-time winner on the FIVB World Tour with gold medal finishes in 2014 with Evandro at a Berlin stop followed by a podium-topping performance with Alison Cerutti at the Xiamen Open in China. George placed fifth at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games with Arthur Mariano as the pair also won the FIVB under-19 world title in 2014 and the under-21 crown in 2016.
Other Olympians competing Tuesday were American Sean Rosenthal with Trevor Crabb along with Brazilian Maria Antonelli with Carolina Solberg. Rosenthal placed fifth at both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games with Jake Gibb. Antonelli and Talita Antunes finished ninth in the London Summer Games.
While Rosenthal and Crabb failed to advance after losing to Billy Allen and Stafford Slick 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) in 48 minutes, Antonelli and Carolina posted a pair of country quota wins Thursday starting with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) victory in 31 minutes over Josemari Alves and Liliane Maestrini followed by a 2-0 (22-20, 21-19) win in 47 minutes Taiana Lima and Elize Maia.
Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar were the first team to advance from the country quota round Tuesday after posting a 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) win in 38 minutes over Lane Carico and Caitlin Ledoux in a United States match. Day and Hochevar, who captured the first domestic event on the American AVP Tour this season, rallied from earlier deficits in both sets to win their match.
Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Vienna, Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany. Overall, there are 15 men’s and 19 women’s events on the $5.335-million FIVB World Tour schedule.