Trips to Toronto at stake in Long Beach

Long Beach, Calif., United States, August 24, 2016 - With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games over, the FIVB World Tour resumes here this week with the US$800,000 ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball as the event is the last international stop to help set the field for the 2016 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals to be staged September 13-18 in Toronto, Canada.

The top eight pairs from the men’s and women’s FIVB World Tour with a maximum of two teams per country will qualify for the US$500,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals along with four “wild card” selections per gender for the second annual event to be held on Polson’s Pier in Toronto.  The winning teams will share $100,000 first-place prizes.

A total of 12 men’s and 11 women’s teams are still in the running for the FIVB World Tour berths in the season-ending event on the 2015-2016 international calendar.  The inaugural SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals was staged last October in the United States on a south Florida beach in Fort Lauderdale.

Once the field is determined after the completion of this week’s ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, the “elite eight” pairs from the FIVB World Tour and the four “wild card” tandems will be placed into four pools of three teams each.  Based on their pool performance, each team in the groups will advance to the elimination rounds where the winning pool pairs will receive a “bye” into the quarter-finals.

Here is how the “Trip to Toronto” is shaping up for the eight berths available per gender from the FIVB World Tour.

Men - Defending SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt are not ranked among the top eight teams on the international circuit, but the reigning Olympic and world champions are expected to receive one of the four “wild card” berths.  The Brazilians played a limited 2015-2016 FIVB schedule due to their participation in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where the pair topped the podium by defeating Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai in the Copacabana “mid-night” finale August 19.  The Italians and Dutch Olympic bronze medal winners Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen are other leading candidates for Toronto “wild cards” along with a team from Canada.

2015 FIVB World Tour Finals gold medal winners Alison Cerutti (left) and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil

Dalhausser and Lucena defeated Alison and Bruno in Fort Lauderdale pool play last October, but dropped the finale for the $100,000 first-place prize.Teams competing in Long Beach with a secured spot for Toronto are Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia (No. 1 ranked with 5,430 points), Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena of the United States (No. 2, 5,230), Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland (No. 4, 4,920) and Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen of Mexico (No. 6, 4,590).  The Mexicans won the 2015 PanAmerican Games gold medal in Toronto.  Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri of Italy, who are No. 3 on the FIVB ranking list (5,060 points) for Toronto, are not competing together in Long Beach, but are expected to play in Toronto.

Tri Bourne and John Hyden (No. 5, 4,870) have secured a second spot for the United States in Toronto, but are still competing with Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson (4,460) for the American berth in the SWATCH Finals.  Bourne and Hyden can clinch a spot for Toronto with a fifth-place or higher finish on the southern California beach.  Gibb and Patterson must at least medal in Long Beach to have a chance for a SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals berth.

Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk of Canada are currently No. 7 on the ranking list with 4,400, but could be passed by four other teams.  Vying with the Canadians for one of the final three spots among the eight teams are Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel of Poland (currently No. 8 with 4,240 points), Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg of Brazil (4,050), Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain (4,000) and Martins Plavins/Haralds Regza (3,860).  The Poles can tie Saxton/Schalk with a ninth-place finish in Long Beach and will pass the Canadians with a fifth-place or higher ranking.  The other three teams need to reach the Long Beach “final four” as Evandro/Pedro can pass Saxton/Schalk with a fourth-place finish, the Spaniards move ahead of the Canadians with a bronze medal placement while the Latvians need to reach the finales to surpass the North Americans.  Evandro and Pedro finished third in the 2015 SWATCH Finals by defeated Brouwer and Meeuwsen in the Fort Lauderdale bronze medal match.

Women - Defending SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals champions Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca are currently the fourth team on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour ranking lists (4,500 points) and have secured a spot for Toronto along with Olympic champions Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany (No. 1-ranked, 5,980 points), April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States (4,890) and Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland (No. 5, 4,270).
2015 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals gold medal winners Talita Antunes (left) and Larissa Franca of Brazil

Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude (No. 2, 4,960) have secured a second spot for Germany in the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals.  Karla Borger/Britta Buthe (4,860) and Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler (4,780) are still competing with Laboureur/Sude for the second Germany berth in Toronto.  Both trailing German teams must place at least two spots ahead of Laboureur and Sude to have a chance for their country’s second spot in the SWATCH Finals.

Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy (No. 6, 4,260), Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug of Argentina (No. 7, 4,130), Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez of Spain (No. 8, 4,110) and Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa/Elize Maia of Brazil (No. 9, 3,810) are vying for the finale three Toronto spots.  All, but the Italians, are competing in Long Beach.  The Argentineans, who won the gold medal at the 2015 PanAmerican Games in Toronto, and Spaniards can pass the Italians with ninth-place or higher finishes in the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball.  Duda and Elize Maia must reach the Long Bach podium to have a chance to gain a second spot for Brazil in Toronto.

With host Canada receiving at least one women’s “wild card” for the Toronto event, the status for Rio Olympic silver medal winners and reigning FIVB world champions Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil is uncertain.  If Duda and Elize Maia do not reach the podium in Long Beach, Agatha and Barbara would be the top team to be considered for a “wild card”.  If Brazil does qualify a second pair for Toronto, Agatha and Barbara could be named as a replacement team if one of the two tandems drops out of the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals.  Agatha and Barbara placed third in the 2015 SWATCH Finals in Fort Lauderdale by defeating Canadians Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan for the bronze medal.  Talita and Larissa defeated Ludwig and Walkenhorst for the $100,000 first-place prize in Fort Lauderdale.


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