Porec, Croatia, June 30, 2016 - Five of the 14 women’s pairs bound for Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games were successful here Thursday in winning their pools in the US$800,000 Porec Major with the quintet securing “byes” for the first-round of elimination to be played later today in the Croatian coastal resort town.
Top-seeded Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil (Pool A), the defending Porec Major champions, led the eight pool winners to second-round elimination matches Friday where the “Sweet 16” and “Elite 8” contests will be played to set the field for Saturday’s semi-finals and medal matches in the FIVB World Tour event.
Other Olympic-bound pairs winning pools as expected were second-seeded Laura Ludwig of Germany (Pool B), fourth-seeded Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada (Pool D) and seventh-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe of Germany (Pool H).
Also breaking through to win their group Thursday was 14th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez of Spain, who upset third-seeded and reigning FIVB world champions Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) victory in 34 minutes over the Brazilians.
Posting Porec “surprises” by winning their groups were two other Brazilians pairs - 21st-seeded Fernanda Alves/Josemari Alves (Pool E) and 22nd-seeded Maria Antonelli/Liliane Maestrini (Pool F) - and 25th-seeded Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli of Switzerland (Pool H).
By winning nine of 14 matches Thursday, the Olympic-bound teams posted a 26-16 record in pool play with six of the matches head-to-head confrontations between pairs that will be playing on Copacabana August 6-18 at the Rio Summer Games. Here is a list of Olympic-bound teams competing in the Porec Major (pool record).
Pool A - Talita/Larissa (3-0), Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas, Canada (1-2)
Pool B - Ludwig/Walkenhorst (3-0)
Pool C – Agatha/Barbara (2-1), Elsa/Liliana (2-1)
Pool D - Bansley/Pavan (2-1), Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth, Italy (2-1)
Pool E - Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel, Netherlands (2-1), Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, United States (0-3)
Pool F - Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy, Australia (0-3), Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, Switzerland (2-1)
Pool G - Borger/Buthe (3-0), Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, China (2-1)
Pool H - Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr, Switzerland (2-1)
The SWATCH 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.