Lausanne, Switzerland, November 19, 2016 - It was the most wonderful time of the year… preparation for the upcoming FIVB Swatch Major Series portion of the 2016 FIVB World Tour that was in full swing and the crème de la crème of beach volleyball were flexing their muscles with some imperious performances.Quick links - Beach Volleyball:FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 2016Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach VolleyballFIVB.com - Beach VolleyballFIVB.com
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We’ve reached May in our look back on the season – where the women’s top seeds really began to stand out from the crowd with some extraordinary displays on the sand.Laura Ludwig prepares to serve during the Antalya Open final on May 14
Between May 10-15, the elite travelled to Turkey for the FIVB Antalya Open which clearly saw the shape of things to come from German duo Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst as they swept all before them on their way to clinching gold. They didn’t drop a single set during the week and dispatched Finnish opponents Taru Lahti/Riika Lehtonen in the two-set final.
A week later, top seeds were again ruling the roost. On home sand, USA’s April Ross/Kerri Walsh-Jennings were in unstoppable form on their way to the top of the podium at the FIVB Cincinnati Open. The USA duo didn’t have it all their own way in the final – losing the first set to China’s Xinyi Xia/Chen Xue – but they showed their class to come back and record victory in three grueling sets.
So two of the world’s most feared teams in the women’s game were gearing up well for a busy summer with success, but what about the men?
Well, in Turkey Latvian stars Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins won gold and benefitted from an injury default in the final as a knee injury to Germany’s Lars Flüggen caused him and teammate Markus Böckermann to forfeit. Gustavo Carvalhaes (left) and Saymon Barbosa celebrate winning a point during the Cincinnati Open final
The next week, in Cincinnati, USA’s top seeds Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson were knocked out in the quarterfinals so it was left to up-and-coming Brazilian stars Saymon Barbosa/Gustavo Carvalhaes to take the golden honors, the medals and the champagne, beating Canada’s Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter in straight sets in the final.
The stage was clearly being set for another adventuresome FIVB World Tour in an Olympic year and featuring the FIVB Swatch Major Series portion of the schedule.
Read more on the swatchmajorseries.com: 2016 Flashback: Top seeds strut their stuff