Moscow Grand Slam quarterfinals will be interesting

Moscow, Russia, May 28, 2016 - Led by Beach Volleyball power Brazil, 16 teams from nine countries will be competing here Saturday in the men’s and women’s quarter-finals matches at the US$800,000 Moscow Grand Slam with the “Elite 8” winners advancing to the afternoon and early evening semi-finals at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre.

Brazil, which will host the Rio 2016 Olympic Beach Volleyball competition August 6-18 on iconic Copacabana, has five pairs left in the competition led by reigning FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt.  The Netherlands, Poland and the United States will each have two teams playing in Saturday’s quarter-finals along with pairs from Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. 

With the FIVB World Tour returning to the Russian capital for the ninth-straight season, defending Moscow Grand Slam champions Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca of Brazil and Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain are still playing in the women’s and men’s elimination bracket seeking to return to Sunday’s medal matches where the winning pairs will share the $57,000 first-place prizes.
Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre

Talita and Larissa are one of three Brazilian women’s teams still playing as the 12-time winners of the FIVB World Tour since former their partnership in July 2014 will be challenged by 10th-seeded Karla Borger and Britta Buthe of Germany.  Both teams have won four-straight matches in the Moscow Grand Slam this week without losing a set.

The series between the two teams is tied 1-1 with Borger/Buthe winning the last meeting by defeating Talita and Larissa 2-1 (23-21, 15-21, 15-11) in a 47-minute elimination bracket match February 26 in Maceio, Brazil.  When the Brazilians started playing together, their very first match was against the Borger/Buthe with Talita and Larissa prevailing 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) in a 39-minute pool play match July 16, 2014 in The Hague.

Other Brazilian women in the quarter-finals are sixth-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Taiana Lima and 19th-seeded qualifiers Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa/Elize Maia.  Juliana and Lima play 16th-seeded Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland in the “Elite 8” with Duda/Elize Maia challenging third-seeded and 2014 Moscow Grand Slam champions April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States.

Taiana Lima (left) and Juliana Felisberta of Brazil

Lima, who celebrated her 32nd birthday Friday, and Juliana will be playing the Swiss for the second-time as Heidrich/Zumkehr defeated the Brazilians 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) in a 40-minute elimination match March 28 in Vitoria, Brazil.  Ross and Walsh Jennings have defeated Duda and Elize Maia twice this season, including a hard-fought pool play match Wednesday 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 16-14) in 49 minutes.

The other women’s quarter-final match will feature fifth-seeded Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada versus 11th-seeded Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska of Poland.  Although the Poles lead the FIVB series 2-1, the last match was forfeited by the Canadians in mid-March at the Rio Grand Slam.  Brzostek and Kolosinska won the last match played on sand with a 2-1 (22-24, 21-19, 16-14) elimination win in 57 minutes at the Olsztyn Grand Slam last August in Poland.

The 12th-seeded Gavira and Herrera challenge second-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson of the United States in Saturday’s first center court match at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre.  The two teams have met five times previously on the FIVB World Tour with the Americans holding a 3-2 edge.

The Netherlands is assured of one team in the semi-finals as the country’s top two men’s team collide in the quarter-finals with fifth-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst playing sixth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen.  Brouwer and Meeuwsen, the 2013 FIVB world champions, hold a 3-2 edge in the series by winning the first, third and fifth meetings.  Nummerdor and Varenhorst captured the silver medal at the 2015 FIVB world championships by losing the title match to Alison and Bruno.

Dutchem Christiaan Varenhorst (left) and Robert Meeuwsen compete at the FIVB World Tour net.

It could be an All-Brazilian men’s semi-finals as Alison/Bruno and 21st-seeded Vitor Felipe/Alvaro Filho are on the same side of the bracket and play tams from Italy and Poland, respectively.  Alison and Bruno will be challenged by 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai while Vitor and Alvaro challenge 17th-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland.

Alison and Bruno have won four of seven meetings with the Italians, including three-straight victories highlighted by a gold medal win at March’s FIVB stop in Vitoria, Brazil.  Kantor and Losiak, who captured the season’s first “big” event by winning the Rio Grand Slam in mid-March, will be playing Felipe and Alvaro for the first-time on the international circuit.


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