Moscow, Russia, May 26, 2016 – For 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams competing in the US$800,000 Moscow Grand Slam here Thursday, it will be “stayin’ alive” and “movin’ on up” at this week’s FIVB World Tour stop as 16 total pairs competing in the international Beach Volleyball event will be “packin’ their bags” to exit the Russian capital in 25th-place.
While the women will finish pool play in the mid-afternoon at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre with 16 matches in eight groups, the men face a 32-match schedule with two rounds of play with a morning start and an evening conclusion as the FIVB World Tour returns to the Russian capital for the ninth-straight season.
Three of the eight women’s pools will be decided when two undefeated teams in the group will vie for the top spot to earn a “bye” to the second-round of elimination bracket play Friday while the loser will drop into the opening rounds against a pair that finishes third in their cluster of four teams.
Top-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil will be challenged by 16th-seeded Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland for the Pool A title while fourth-seeded Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany play 13th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez of Spain in the Pool D battle of unbeatens. Seventh-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands meet 10th-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe of Germany in Pool G competition for the “elimination bye”.
Second-seeded and defending Moscow Grand Slam champions Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca of Brazil are alone atop the Pool B pool standings as are third-seeded April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States in Pool C, fifth-seeded Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada in Pool E and sixth-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Taiana Lima Brazil in Pool F.
Canadian Heather Bansley (right) hits against American rival Summer Ross Wednesday
Only three of the opening 16 men’s matches Wednesday defied the Moscow Grand Slam seeding order highlighted by 21st-seeded Vitor Felipe/Alvaro Filho of Brazil defeating 12th-seeded and defending Moscow Grand Slam champions Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) in a 37-minute Pool E match.
Other upsets Wednesday saw 19th-seeded Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany posting a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) Pool C win in 36 minutes over 14th-seeded Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri of Italy while 20th-seeded Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen of Mexico downed 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 23-21) in a 53-minute Pool D match.
Ontiveros and Virgen are challenging Erdmann and Matysik for the 15th and final Olympic qualifying spot awarded from the FIVB World Tour for the 2016 Rio Summer Games. The Germans hold a 60-point edge over Ontiveros and Virgen (4,490 to 4,430 Rio Olympic ranking points). Both teams can improve their Olympic point totals by winning their group titles Thursday.
The Moscow Grand Slam elimination matches will be played Friday and Saturday to set the lineup for Sunday’s medal matches. The winning teams will share the $57,000 first-place prizes.