Moscow, Russia, May 31, 2017 - Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado, two of the more experienced players on the FIVB World Tour with a combined 259 international starts, led eight teams from the women’s qualifying round here Wednesday into the Main Draw in the US$175,000 Beach Volleyball event at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre.
Being played alongside a men’s qualifier, the international stop for the 10th-straight season in the Russian capital features opening “modified” pool play action Thursday followed by elimination rounds 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.
Seeded first in the women’s qualifier after winning two country quota matches Tuesday, Antonelli and Carolina had to overcome a first set loss and two match points for Miki Ishii and Yukako Suzuki to score a 2-1 (24-26, 21-16, 21-19) win in 61 minutes over the 17th-seeded Japanese pair.
Yukako Suzuki (left) celebrates a Moscow point with Japanese partner Miki Ishii
Despite playing in their first-ever FIVB event together, Antonelli and Carolina entered this week’s event with a combined 13 world tour gold medals and nearly $1.4-million in earnings. The Japanese tandem had combined to play in only 12 international events with only $12,200 in winnings. The Moscow stop was only Ishii and Suzuki’s third FIVB event as the pair did post a fifth earlier this season in Shepparton, Australia.
With three victories this week, Antonelli and Carolina will join five other Brazilian pairs in the Moscow “money” rounds, including Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca, Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa, Fernanda Alves/Barbara Seixas, and Rebecca Cavalcanti/Ana Patricia Silva. Antonelli, Talita, Larissa, Agatha and Barbara are all Olympians while Duda and Ana Patricia teaming to win the gold medal at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Other pairs gaining Main Draw berths Wednesday were second-seeded Karla Borger/Margareta Kozuch of Germany, fourth-seeded Jolien Sinnema/Joy Stubbe of The Netherlands, fifth-seeded Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar of the United States, sixth-seeded Manon Nummerdor-Flier/Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands, seventh-seeded Katharina Schutzenhofer/Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria, eighth-seeded Alexandra Jupiter/Ophelie Lusson of France and 14th-seeded Magdalena Dostalova/Karolina Rehackova of the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic pair posted the only seed-break-through in the women’s qualifier after winning two matches Wednesday over pairs from China and Australia that featured past Olympians. After posting a 2-1 (18-21 21-14, 16-14) victory in 45 minutes over 19th-seeded Xinxin Wang/Chen Xue of China, Dostalova and Rehackova scored a 2-1 (13-21, 21-15, 17-15) win in 44 minutes over third-seeded Phoebe Bell/Nicole Laird of Australia.
Czech Republic's Magdalena Dostalova (left) and Karolina Rehackova
Xue competed in two Olympics with Xi Zhang with a bronze medal finish at the Beijing 2008 Summer Games followed by a fourth-place finish at London 2012. Xue and Zhang also topped the FIVB World Championship podium in 2013 at Stare Jablonki, Poland. Laird teamed with Mariafe Artacho at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.