Thinned, but opportunities abound

Klagenfurt, Austria, July 26, 2016 - With the A1 Major Klagenfurt women’s field thinned by some notable Olympic absences, opportunities abound for up-and-coming players to make some noise.

Not that many of them look at it that way as the A1 Major Klagenfurt is the fourth of five SWATCH Major Series events owned and operated by the Beach Major Company, the world's leading producer of Beach Volleyball events.

The top-seeded qualifying team of Lane Carico and Summer Ross took care of their business and reached the main draw Tuesday with two victories in the qualifiers. But the duo that is coming off a ninth-place finish in the FIVB Gstaad Major and an appearance in the final of the AVP Manhattan Beach Open have their sights set higher.

“I think we’re just facing whatever challenge is right in front of us and we don’t need to worry about who else is in the tournament,” Carico said. “We just need to focus on doing our best.”

Carico and Ross opened with a 21-17, 21-7 win over Esther Van Berkel and Julia Wouters of the Netherlands and a 21-17, 21-18 victory over Switzerland’s Nicole Eiholzer and Dunja Gerson.

The finish in Gstaad matched their best Grand Slam finish on FIVB World Tour. But after taking a fifth in the Fuzhou Open this year, the young duo like their progress but remain hungry for more.

“It was pretty awesome (in Gstaad) but we wanted to win the other games,” Ross said, “so we’re going to try harder this time.”

“I think the ninth showed us we’re doing some good things, playing some ball at a high level,” Carico said. “But we still have some things to improve on, especially to do it consistently.”

Ross’ former partner, Emily Day, joined with Brittany Hochevar to win their two qualifiers and reach the main draw in only their fourth tournament together and first on the FIVB World Tour. They captured the prestigious Manhattan Open last week and now have won seven consecutive matches.

Day and Hochevar opened the day with a 21-15, 21-16 win over Dutch duo Flore Gravesteijn and Joy Stubbe, then came back to top Amaranta Navarro and Ester Ribera of Spain, 17-21, 21-8, 15-11.

Americans Betsi Metter Flint and Kelley Larsen won their first match over Ukraine’s Inna Makhno and Iryna Makhno, 21-17, 18-21, 15-12 before falling to second-seeded qualifiers Rinke Braakman and Jolien Sinnema of the Netherlands, 22-20, 21-18.

Kim DiCello and Kendra VanZwieten of the United States, seeded 10th in the qualifier, fell to Austrians Valerie Teufl and Bianca Zass, 15-21, 21-19, 15-13.

Carico and Ross will open Wednesday’s main draw as the No. 22 seed entering pool play. Day and Hochevar earned the No. 25 seed.

Wild-card entrants Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, the NCAA and World University Games champions from the University of Southern California, open pool play in their first FIVB World Tour event against, of course, top-seeded Olympians Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.

Both of the Brazilian Olympic teams, Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas plus Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes elected to skip the tournament to prepare for the Rio 2016 Olympics, as did Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross and Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat of the United States.

Quick links:
A1 Major Klagenfurt
Men - Qualification
Men - Main draw
Women - Qualification
Women - Main draw
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