No pool title, but group satisfying for Chinese

Hamburg, Germany, June 9, 2016 - After losing twice here Wednesday during the opening pool play rounds in the US$800,000 smart Major Hamburg, China’s Fan Wang and Yuan Yue rebounded Thursday to maintain hopes in increasing their “slim” advantage in qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Seeded as a 27th qualifier after winning a preliminary match Tuesday, Wang and Yue dropped their opening two contests Wednesday to teams from Brazil and Switzerland before posting a 2-1 (22-20, 10-21, 16-14) Pool F win in 48 minutes over 22nd-seeded Taru Lahti and Riikka Lehtonen of Finland.

With the Thursday victory, Wang and Yue advanced to Friday’s first-round of elimination as the third-ranked team from their pool behind sixth-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Taiana Lima of Brazil and 11th-seeded Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland.

Excluding Brazilians with a maximum of two teams per country, Wang and Yue are currently No. 14 on the list of qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where the top 15 pairs from the FIVB World Tour will qualify for the Copacabana quadrennial.  The Chinese have 4,150 points for their best 12 finishes during the qualifying process for Rio that started in April 2015.

Ana Gallay and Georgina Klug are No. 15 on the list with 4,100 points as the Argentineans join the Chinese in competing with Ekaterina Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova of Russia (3,950 points) and Linline Matauatu/Pata Miller of Vanuatu (3,840).  All four teams will play in the opening elimination round Friday with the Russians and Vanuatuans needing a win to keep their Olympic hopes alive via the FIVB World Tour qualifying system.

An opening win Friday by any of the four teams will increase their point totals by 120 points.  If Wang/Yue and Gallay/Klug fail to win Friday, Birlova/Ukolova must win at least two matches to pass the Argentineans and Chinese.  It is almost the same scenario for Matauatu and Pata, who must win three matches to pass Wang/Yue and Gallay/Klug.

The 17th-seeded Gallay and Klug finished second in Pool A with a 2-1 record after defeating 32nd-seeded qualifiers Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova of Kazakhstan 2-0 (21-19, 21-15) in 35 minutes Thursday.  The Argentineans spit their two matches Wednesday with a win over Spain and a 2-0 (21-16, 21-19) setback in 34 minutes to top-seeded Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.

Birlova and Ukolova, who also had to qualify Tuesday to be seeded 26th in the Main Draw, placed second in Pool G after posting a 2-0 (21-13, 21-17) win in 31 minutes over 23rd-seeded Mariafe Artacho/Nicole Laird of Australia.  The Russians dropped their first two matches Wednesday to pairs from Germany and the United States.

Despite losing their last two group matches to pairs from Brazil and Germany, the 20th-seeded Matauatu and Pata used an opening win Wednesday over 13th-seeded qualifiers Eduarda Lisboa/Elize Maia of Brazil 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) in 31 minutes to place second in Pool D.

With the smart Major Hamburg featuring men’s play, the top three teams from each pool advance to Friday’s elimination bracket where the women will play three rounds and the men two.  The winners of each group earn a first-round elimination “bye” and secure a guaranteed ninth in the smart Major Hamburg.  The men play their quarter-final contests Saturday and the women contest their semi-finals and medal matches.  The men’s semi-final and medal matches will be played Sunday.


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