FIVB World Tour idle, but bubble watching

Hamburg, Germany, May 31, 2016 - With the first SWATCH Major Series less than a week away, all “eyes” will be on the European Continental Championships in Switzerland as the event is the next to last tournament that can help Beach Volleyball pairs gather points for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

After eight-straight weeks of FIVB World Tour play in Qatar, China, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and the United States, the international circuit is idle this week before resuming play here June 7 for the first of five SWATCH Major Series events.  The US$800,000 Hamburg Major will be played at the Tennis Stadium Hamburg Rothenbaum with the women’s semi-final and medal matches June 11 with the men’s competition ending June 12.

With 15 Olympic berths, excluding teams from Brazil, available via the FIVB World Tour, teams on the international circuit can use their best 12 finishes from either tour stops and/or continental finals.  For Asian and European confederation participants on the world tour, teams can use their best of two finishes to count among their top 12 placements since the start of the Rio qualifying process in April 2015.

Two teams from German (Marcus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen and Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik) are on the “bubble” in the men’s competition with pairs from Mexico (Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen and Canada (Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter) in hot pursuit for a top 15 finish with a maximum of two duos per country.  Both German teams have compiled 4,610 points from their best 12 finishes, but Bockermann/Fluggen have compiled more overall points to rank No. 14.  Ontiveros/Virgen and Binstock/Schachter have 4,430 and 4,250 points, respectively,

Tandems from China (Fan Wang/Yuan Yue) and Argentina (Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug) are within 50 points of each other for the No. 14 and No. 15 spots in the women’s side with 4,150 and 4,100 points, respectively.  Teams from Russia (Ekaterina Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova, 3,950 points), Vanuatu (Linline Matauatu/Pata Miller, 3,840), Finland (Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen, 3,740) and the Slovak Republic (Natalia Dubovcova/Dominika Nestarcova, 3,450) and Austria (Barbara Hansel/Stefanie Schwaiger, 3,440) are still in contention.

The European teams have the advantage entering the final weeks of the Rio qualifying process for the Copacabana quadrennial with their continental championships being held starting Wednesday in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.  Pool play starts the CEV championships followed by elimination rounds where the winning team will net 500 points.

While the Argentineans, Canadians, Chinese, Mexicans and Vanuatuans watch from afar, here what each European “bubble” team can do to improve their qualifying point total this week in Switzerland.

Bockermann/Fluggen - quarter-final or better (60 more points by finishing fifth, 110 more points by finishing fourth, 160 more points by finishing third, 210 more points by finishing second, 260 more points by finishing first).
Erdmann/Matysik - quarter-final or better (see Bockermann/Fluggen for additional points gained)
Birlova/Ukolova - gold medal (50 more points by finishing first)
Lahti/Lehtonen - ninth-place or better (see Bockermann/Fluggen for additional points gained)
Dubovcova/Nestarcova - bronze medal or better (50 more points for finishing third, 100 points for finishing second, 150 more points for finishing first)
Hansel/Schwaiger - ninth-place or better (see Bockermann/Fluggen for additional points gained)

In addition, women’s teams from Germany (Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, 4,770 points for their best 12 finishes) and the United States (Emily Day/Jen Kessy, 3,980) still have an opportunity for a second spot for their country in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  However, both pairs face almost unbeatable odds in replacing compatriots Karla Borger/Britta Buthe (5,100) of Germany and Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat (4,470) of the United States.

Trailing Borger and Buthe by 330 points, Holtwick and Semmler most reach the “final fours” in the CEV championships and the Hamburg Major with at least medal finish in one of the events to improve their score significantly and hope Borger and Buthe to not reach the semi-finals in the continental championships and place 17th or lower in the FIVB event.

Day and Kessy, who have placed 17th in their last three FIVB World Tour starts, are 490 points behind Fendrick and Sweat.  If Fendrick and Sweat place ninth or higher in Hamburg to clinch the No. 2 USA spot.  If Fendrick and Sweat place 17th or lower, then Day Kessy have to win the Hamburg Major gold medal to move ahead of their American rivals.

It should be noted that the 15 highest ranked teams on the Olympic Ranking as of June 13 will each earn one quota place for their national Olympic committee/national federation to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, respecting the maximum of two quota places per NOC/NF.  Once the FIVB posts the “official” Olympic ranking on June 13, the NOCs are required to confirm to FIVB by June 27 the use of the quota places earned through Olympic Ranking.  Once confirmed, the NOC/NF must “officially” name their teams for the Rio Games by July 18.

The Hamburg Major will be the last FIVB World Tour qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the process started in April 2015 with events in China.  With 24 teams competing in each gender’s Beach Volleyball competition at the Rio Summer Games, the top 15 pairs, excluding Brazilians with a maximum of two teams per country, will qualify for the Copacabana quadrennial from the FIVB World Tour.

Brazil earned its two Olympic spots per gender by winning the 2015 men’s (Alison/Bruno) and women’s (Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas) FIVB World Championships along with host nation berths (Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg and Talita/Larissa).  The seven remaining berths for the Rio Olympics will be determined via the Continental Cup format.


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