Moscow, Russia, June 1, 2017 - After two days of country quota and qualifying matches, the “money” rounds for the US$150,000 FIVB World Tour begin here Thursday with 24 matches per gender to help set the schedule for the weekend elimination matches at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre.
With the international Beach Volleyball circuit returning to the Russian capital for the 10th-straight season, Thursday’s play will be highlighted by opening “modified” pool play action. The elimination rounds Friday and Saturday will set the lineup for Sunday's medal matches as the winning men’s and women’s pairs in each gender’s competition will share the $10,000 first-place prizes.
The final eight duos per gender qualified for the Main Draw Wednesday where five men’s pairs and one women’s team made seed-break-throughs during the preliminary rounds. Posting the best “break-through” was the No. 24 Ilya Leshukov and Alexander Likholetov of Russia, who eliminated the eighth- and ninth-seeded teams from Germany and the Ukraine, respectively.
Joining the Russian pair with seed-break-throughs to the Main Draw were 10th-seeded Billy Allen/Stafford Slick of the United States, 15th-seeded Aliaksandr Dziadkou/Aliaksandr Kavalenka of Belarus, 20th-seeded Rihards Finsters/Edgars Tocs of Latvia and 21st-seeded Ondrej Perusic/David Schweiner of the Czech Republic. Breaking through in the women’s qualifier were 14th-seeded Magdalena Dostalova/Karolina Rehackova of the Czech Republic.
Headlining the men’s Main Draw lineup is top-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia and reigning Olympic and FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil. While the Latvians will be seeking their second FIVB World Tour gold medal in Moscow, Alison and Bruno will be searching their first.
Seeded third in the “money” rounds Alison and Bruno were upset in the 2017 Moscow finale by Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands. Alison has won two gold medals in Moscow by topping the Russian capital podium in 2011 and 2012 with the legendary Emanuel Rego.
Also playing in the men’s Main Draw Thursday with be 10th-seeded Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira of Spain, who teamed to win their first FIVB World Tour gold medal on the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre sand by defeating Brazilians Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg in the 2015 Moscow finale.
Rio Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst are seeded second in the women’s Main Draw behind Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil. Both teams have Moscow medals with Talita and Larissa topping the podium in 2015 and placing second last season to April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States. Ludwig and Walkenhorst placed second in 2013.
Following the Moscow stop, the FIVB World Tour takes a week off before resuming play June 15-18 for a “three-star” $150,000 event in The Netherlands at The Hague. 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.