Moscow, Russia, May 23, 2017 - When the FIVB World Tour returns to the Russian capital here next week for the 10th-straight season, the US$150,000 event will feature several “new” partnerships when Moscow hosts the sixth double gender event on the 2017 international Beach Volleyball calendar.
With two-thirds of the participating teams in each gender’s 32-team Main Draws lineup set, the current entries in the “money” rounds will feature 17 women’s and 12 men’s pairs that are competing together for the first-time this season on the FIVB World Tour that started in February in the United States and last staged an event this past week in Brazil.
Two of the “new” partnerships that will being playing in Moscow won the first two men’s events on the 2017 FIVB World Tour at stops in the United States and Iran. Also in the Russian capital will be two “new” women’s teams that topped the podium at the international stops in China and Brazil.
All four early-season winners will be in action when the Moscow Main Draw play starts June 1 with “modified” pool play. The Russian capital stop opens May 31 with qualifying for both men and women at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre where eight teams from each gender’s preliminary rounds advance to the “money” rounds.
2016 Moscow gold medal action at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre
Instead of the typical four-team, six-match schedule for each group, the “modified” pool play format still features four pairs, but with only four matches in the quad. The top seed in each pool will play the lowest seeded duo in the group with the second- and third-seeded pairs in each group meeting in the first two matches.
The winning teams in the opening pool matches will meet with the victors advancing as the group leader to the elimination round and securing a first-round “bye”. The loser will gain a spot in the first-round of elimination as does the winning team from the meeting of the opening pool losers.
With the top three pairs in each pool advancing from “modified” pool format, the 24-team elimination brackets are scheduled for June 2 and 3 to set the lineup for the June 4 medal matches. The winning duos in each gender’s competition will share the $10,000 first-place prizes.
Three of the four first-time gold medal winning teams are from Brazil with the fourth being the Russian men’s tandem of Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin. Both players competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with different partners as Krasilnikov placed fourth with Konstantin Semenov and Liamin fifth with Dmitri Barsouk. Both Russian pairs were eliminated from Copacabana gold medal competition by Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy.
Russia's Nikita Liamin (left) blocks Cuba's Nivaldo Diaz
Krasilnikov and Liamin, one of seven Russian tandems filling Main Draw spots next week (three men and four women), captured the Iranian event in mid-February on Kish Island by defeating Polish Olympians Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak, who placed second last week at the Rio Open after dropping the gold medal match to Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil.
The “new” pair of Alvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa captured the 2017 season-opening event at the Fort Lauderdale Major in United States where the Florida stop featured an All-Brazilian finale. Alvaro and Saymon defeated another “new” Brazilian team at the SWATCH Major Series event with a Fort Lauderdale win over Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola.
Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, who captured the gold medal at the 2015 FIVB World Championships and the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics, split after the Copacabana Summer Games and have found success with “new” partners Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa and Fernanda Alves.
After placing second to compatriots Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca at the Fort Lauderdale Major in February, Agatha and Duda captured the gold medal last week at the Rio Open. Barbara and Fernanda topped the podium at April’s Xiamen Open in China while placing fifth at Fort Lauderdale and a fourth at the Rio Open.
The two “new” Brazilian partnerships met in the Rio semi-finals with Agatha and Barbara defeating Barbara and Fernanda followed by a three-set gold medal victory over the newly-created Canadian partnership of Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada.
After placing fifth at the Rio Olympics, Pavan split with Heather Bansley to form “new” partnerships with Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson, respectively. Bansley and Wilkerson have finished ninth in their first two events this season in Fort Lauderdale and Rio as the Canadians were eliminated from both stops by Barbara and Fernanda. The last Bansley/Wilkerson setback was at three-setter as Barbara and Fernanda won the decider 17-15 in Rio.
Melissa Humana-Paredes (left) and Sarah Pavan of Canada
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 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.