Porec, Croatia, July 1, 2016 - When play opens here Friday morning in the US$800,000 Porec Major, women’s teams from Brazil and Germany are leading the way with four pairs each from the South American and European countries making up half of the “Sweet 16” field at the FIVB World Tour stop in the Croatian coastal resort town.
Led by defending champions and top-seeded Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca, three of the four Brazilian pairs are in the top-half of the women’s Porec Major elimination bracket with two German pairs. Fernanda and Josemari Alves (not related) are the only Brazilian team in the lower half of the bracket with another two German teams.
Reigning FIVB world champions and third-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil recovered from a Thursday morning pool play upset to Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo of Spain to win an afternoon elimination to advance to Friday’s play.
Agatha and Barbara will meet 10th-seeded Karla Borger and Britta Buthe of Germany Friday morning with the winner advancing to the afternoon quarter-finals against either Talita/Larissa or 13th-seeded Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy.
Borger and Buthe have a 3-0 FIVB match mark against Agatha and Barbara will the previous three matches being played in 2014. Talita and Larissa hold a 2-1 world tour edge over Menegatti and Orsi Toth, who posted a “Sweet 16) win over the Brazilians at the Rio Grand Slam earlier this season on Copacabana in mid-March.
Friday’s women’s schedule at the Porec Major will feature two rounds of elimination to set the field for Saturday’s semi-finals and medal matches where the winning team will share the $57,000 first-place prize in the second of five SWATCH Major Series events on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar.
The second annual Porec Major also features men’s play where the final “pool play” matches will be played Friday along with the first-round of elimination. Each of the eight group winners will advance to the men’s “Sweet 16” with a first-round “bye” with the second- and third-place finishers playing Friday afternoon elimination matches.
Nine of the 16 women’s teams still playing in the Porec Major have qualified for the Olympics. Five Rio-bound pairs were eliminated from the competition Thursday. Here’s the lineup for Friday morning’s women’s “Sweet 16” matches with the quarterfinals being played in the afternoon.
• Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes Brazil (No. 1-seeded team) vs. Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth Italy (13)
• Karla Borger/Britta Buthe Germany (10) vs. Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas Brazil (3)
• Maria Antonelli/Liliane Maestrini Brazil (22) vs. Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas Canada (16)
• Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude Germany (19) vs. Riikka Lehtonen/Taru Lahti Finland (20)
• Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley Canada (4) vs. Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo Spain (14)
• Fernanda Alves/Josemari Alves Brazil (21) vs. Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre Switzerland (11)
• Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli Switzerland (25) vs. Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler Germany (17)
• Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst Germany (2) vs. Vasiliki Arvaniti/Penny Karagkouni Greece (27)
After the Porec Major, the SWATCH Major Series continues with two more stops in Europe at Gstaad Switzerland (July 5-10) and Klagenfurt, Austria (July 26-31). Following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the ASISCS World Series of Beach Volleyball at the end of August in the United States at Long Beach will be the final event used to determine the top eight teams for the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals to be played September 13-18 at a site to be determined.