Moscow, Russia, June 2, 2017 - It was no day at the “beach” for players competing here Friday in the US$150,000 FIVB World Tour event, but a “Summer Sweat” did break-out at the at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre to create the “hot” headline of the day.
The “Summer Sweat” was the American tandem of Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat as the 11th-seeded American pair won three matches Friday to advance to Saturday morning quarter-finals highlighted by a 2-0 (21-19, 21-13) win in 27 minutes over reigning Olympic and SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.
While the second-seeded Germans were watching after winning their group Thursday with “modified” Pool B victories over duos from the Czech Republic and Brazil, “Summer Sweat” started play Friday with a 2-0 (21-11, 21-12) Pool F victory over 27th-seeded qualifiers Katharina Schutzenhofer/Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria as the temperature was 10°c (44°f).
In recovering from a Thursday setback to a team from Canada in their first group match, “Summer Sweat” advanced in the 24-team elimination bracket by ousting compatriots and 17th-seeded Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) in 27 minutes to earn a match against Ludwig and Walkenhorst where the Americans had never played the Germans since the Moscow stop was only their second FIVB World Tour event together.
"It was a long day,” said the 31-year old Sweat, who competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Lauren Fendrick. “We lost our match yesterday, so we had to get out here early this morning to finish our pool play and this was our third match. We have been going back and forth to the hotel, so it has been a busy, long day, but a good day. We played solid. I don't know if they are dealing with injuries or what, but I am proud of the way we sided out and just were steady at our side.”
As for injuries, both Ludwig and Walkenhorst have been hindered with shoulder and knee problems. In fact, Ludwig was playing in only her third event (second international) since having right shoulder surgery in mid-December and she started playing in May at a German domestic event before finishing fifth two weeks ago at the FIVB stop in Rio de Janeiro.
“Summer Sweat” will now play 20th-seeded qualifiers Karla Borger and Margareta Kozuch of Germany seeking to advance to their second FIVB World Tour semi-final this season after placing fourth at the Fort Lauderdale Major, the 2017 season opening event in the United States at the start of February in south Florida.
Like the Americans, Borger and Kokzuch are a new team on the FIVB World Tour and are playing in their third international event with a 17th in the SWATCH Major Series stop in Fort Lauderdale and a ninth at April’s Xiamen Open in China. Before competing in the Moscow Main Draw, the Germans had to defeat a team from Greece in Wednesday’s qualifier.
Borger and Kokzuch defeated a team from China Thursday morning before losing 2-1 (21-17, 20-22, 19-17) to fourth-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa in a 56-minute Pool D afternoon match. Friday, the Germans posted elimination bracket wins Friday over 32nd-seeded Svetlana Kholomina/Olga Motrich of Russia 2-0 (21-13, 21-19) in 28 minutes and Fendrick/April Ross of the United States 2-0 (25-23, 23-21) in 44 minutes.
Saturday’s other quarter-final matches will have 19th-seeded Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider of Germany playing 15th-seeded Maria Antonelli/Carolina Salgado of Brazil while fourth-seeded Agatha/Duda challenge third-seeded Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude of Germany and 12th-seeded Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy of Australia meet topo-seeded Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca of Brazil
With the FIVB Russian capital event also featuring men’s play, Saturday’s schedule will conclude with the semi-final matches 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.
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.