Gstaad, Switzerland, July 6, 2016 - Fan Wang and Yuan Yue had the most productive day of the 17 Rio-bound teams competing in the US$800,000 Gstaad Major here Wednesday with a pair of Beach Volleyball victories over teams headed next month to Copacabana for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Seeded 25th in the third of five SWATCH Major Series events this season, Wang and Yue finished Wednesday leading Pool H with a 2-0 record by defeating eighth-seeded Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland 2-1 (24-26, 21-17, 15-12) in 60 minutes and ninth-seeded Karla Borger and Britta Buthe of Germany 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) in 35 minutes.
The win over the Swiss snapped a four-match losing streak to the Europeans with the Wang and Yue winning for the fourth-time in nine FIVB World Tour matches with Heidrich and Zumkehr. Wang and Yue also snapped a six-match losing streak to Borger and Buthe, who had won seven of the first eight matches from the Chinese.
Depending on the outcome of Thursday’s morning match with 24th-seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti and Penny Karagkouni of Greece, Wang and Yue appeared headed to winning the pool along with earning a first-round “bye” when elimination bracket play starts Thursday afternoon. In the only match with the Chinese, Arvaniti and Karagkouni posted a 2-1 (18-21, 26-24, 15-9) elimination win in 52 minutes over Wang and Yue at last week’s Porec Major in Croatia.
Non-Olympic pairs leading pools after Wednesday’s 32-match schedule are 18th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler of Germany (Pool B) and 20th-seeded Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen of Finland (Pool D), who defeated two teams headed to Copacabana.
The second of Holtwick and Semmler’s two wins Wednesday was a 2-0 (21-13, 21-18) victory in 31 minutes over 15th-seeded Rio-bound participants Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat of the United States. Earlier Wednesday, Fendrick and Sweat bested second-seeded compatriots April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings 2-1 (15-21, 21-19, 15-13) in 50 minutes. It was Fendrick and Sweat’s first win in 10 matches with Ross and Walsh Jennings, including four on the FIVB World Tour.
Holtwick and Semmler play Ross and Walsh Jennings for the pool leadership as the two teams have split a pair of FIVB World Tour matches. If Ross and Walsh Jennings defeat the Germans and Fendrick and Sweat beat 31stt-seeded qualifiers Nicole Eiholzer/ Dunja Gerson of Switzerland, the three-way tie would be broken by point ratio among the three deadlocked pairs. Ross and Walsh Jennings won their second match Wednesday by defeating the Swiss women 2-0 (23-21, 21-11) in 38 minutes.
After posting a 2-1 (28-26, 16-21, 15-13) win in 56 minutes over 13th-seeded Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland, Lahti and Lehtonen gained control of Pool D by upsetting fourth-seeded Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan of Canada 2-1 (21-19, 10-21, 15-11) in 43 minutes. The Fins can clinch the group out-right by defeating 29th-seeded Julie Gordon and Brandie Wilkerson of Canada in the first FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams.
Here are how the 17 Rio-bound teams fared Wednesday as the pairs combined for a 22-10 record.
Pool A - Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca, Brazil, 2-0; Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas, Canada, 1-1.
Pool B - April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings, United States, 1-1; Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, United States, 1-1.
Pool C - Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst, Germany, 2-0; Jantine van der Vlist/Sophie van Gestel, Netherlands, 1-1.
Pool D - Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan, Canada, 1-1; Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, Switzerland, 1-1.
Pool E - Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez, Spain, 2-0; Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska, Poland, 1-1.
Pool F - Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth, Italy, 2-0.
Pool G - Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel, Netherlands, 2-0; Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy, Australia, 1-1.
Pool H - Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, China, 2-0, Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, Germany, 1-1; Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr, Switzerland, 1-1.