The Hague, The Netherlands, June 14, 2017 - With a “unique” backdrop of the Sportcampus Zuiderpark and a FIVB World Tour competition being played outdoor and inside the newly-constructed multifunctional sports and education center, the US$150,000 Dela Beach Open started here Wednesday with women’s teams from eight countries qualifying for the “money” rounds at the international Beach Volleyball event.
The Dela Beach Open also marks the first-time that a FIVB World Tour event is also being held at the same site of a FIVB World League indoor stop where The Netherlands will host teams from Korea, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in Volleyball action Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Tuesday’s country quota winners Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado headlined the advancing pairs to Thursday’s opening “modified” pool play rounds for both men and women. Seeded first in the qualifier after winning twice Tuesday, the top-seeded Antonelli and Carolina were scheduled to play 16th-seeded Alexandra Moiseeva and Ekaterina Syrtseva of Russia for a spot in the Main Draw.
However, an injury for Syrtseva resulted in a Russian forfeit as the Brazilians advanced to Thursday’s Main Draw along with women’s Beach Volleyball pairs from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Kazakhstan, Norway Poland, Spain, the Slovak Republic and the United States.
Katrien Gielen and Liesbeth Mouha were Wednesday’s “big winners” as the 22nd-seeded Belgium pair netted two seed-break-through wins over 11th-seeded Inna/Iryna Makhno of the Ukraine 2-0 (21-15, 21-12) in 28 minutes and sixth-seeded Stefanie Schwaiger/Teresa Strauss of Austria 2-0 (21-10, 21-17) in 30 minutes.
Despite the lower seed, Gielen and Mouha are an “experienced” team with the Dela Beach Open being their 23rd FIVB World Tour event together, but only their second this season as the Belgium duo failed to qualify at the mid-April stop in China. Prior to this season, the last time the two players competed on the FIVB World Tour was in 2012 highlighted with a fourth at the Gstaad Grand Slam in Switzerland and a No. 13 ranking overall on the international circuit.
In the next-to-last women’s qualifying match Wednesday, Natalia Dubovcova and Andrea Strbova of the Slovak Republic advanced to Main Draw with two 33-minute wins in their first-ever FIVB World Tour event together. Seeded 18th, Dubovcova and Strbova posted triumphs for 15th-seeded Lane Carico/Caitlin Ledoux of the United States 2-0 (22-20, 21-12) and second-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Angela Lobato of Spain 2-0 (21-17, 21-16).
Natalia Dubovcova of the Slovak Republic
Posting Wednesday’s first break-through win was Rio Olympian Mariafe Artacho with new partner Jessyka Ngauamo as the 12th-seeded Australians posted two wins Wednesday highlighted by a 2-0 (21-13, 21-15) victory in 31 minutes over fifth-seeded Julie Gordon and Camille Saxton of Canada. It marked the first-time in three qualifying attempts that the Aussies have advanced from the preliminary rounds to the Main Draw at a FIVB World Tour stop.
Artacho and Ngauamo’s second triumph Wednesday also avenged a setback to the Canadians earlier this season as Gordon and Saxton, who captured the Sydney stop on the 2017 FIVB World Tour calendar by defeating the Australians 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) in a 33-minute gold medal match March 19.
Australia's Mariafe Artacho (left) and Jessyka Ngauamo
Other teams advancing Wednesday in the fifth qualification tournament on the FIVB World Tour this season were third-seeded Nadja Glenzke/Julia Grossner of Germany, fourth-seeded Emily Day/Brittany Hochevar of the United States, seventh-seeded Jagoda Gruszczynska/Kinga Kolosinska of Poland and eighth-seeded Ingrid Lunde/Oda Ulveseth of Norway.
Norway was assured a spot in the “money” rounds as Lunde and Ulveseth advanced to Thursday’s schedule with a 2-1 (20-22, 21-15, 15-8) win in 45 minutes over ninth-seeded compatriots Victoria Kjolberg/Ane Tveit Hjortland. Lunde and Ulveseth advanced from a FIVB qualifier for the second-time this season in three attempts, including a successful trip through the preliminary rounds in mid-April at Xiamen, China.
Bumping Mikasa is Oda Ulveseth (right) as Norwegian partner Ingrid Lunde follows the action Wednesday on an indoor court at the Dela Beach Open.
Following the men’s and women’s qualification, the first of four days of Dela Beach Open Main Draw action starts Thursday with “modified” pool play and concludes Sunday with the medal matches for the seventh double gender event on the 2017 FIVB World Tour calendar. Sunday’s gold medal winners will each share the $10,000 first-place prizes.
Following the Dela Beach Open, the international circuit takes a week off before resuming play with SWATCH Major Series stops in Croatia (Porec, June 27-July 2) and Switzerland (Gstaad, July 4-9). 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 and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.