Moscow, Russia, August 16, 2019 – Eight pairs earned their spots in Saturday’s women’s quarterfinals of the Moscow four-star stop on the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour and two of the players, Italy’s Marta Menegatti and USA’s Sarah Sponcil did so on their birthdays.
First, it was sixth-seeded Kelly Claes & Sarah Sponcil, who cruised to an emphatic 2-0 (21-16, 21-9) round-of-16 victory over Slovakia’s Andrea Strbova & Natalia Dubovcova to make the last eight of the tournament.
“It was a good win, kind of hard, because we had the entire day to rest, while the team that we played had a match that they had already played. They were definitely warmed up, but I think we came out really strong. At the very beginning I didn’t feel very warmed up, so maybe that’s something that we can work on, but towards the middle of the first set we got some energy going and got some good side-outs,” said Sponcil, who turns 23 on Friday. “Nothing like to win on your birthday! That’s all I wanted today and I am really excited. My friends and I are going out to dinner and try to celebrate as much as we can, but making sure we’re ready for tomorrow as well.”
Claes & Sponcil rejoice upon advancing to the quarterfinals
The eighthfinal win did not come as easy for Marta Menegatti on her 29th birthday. She and her partner Viktoria Orsi Toth, seeded 16th in the main draw, managed to deny multiple match points for their opponents Laura Ludwig & Margareta Kozuch of Germany in a nail-biting second set of their encounter to eventually celebrate with a 2-1 (17-21, 33-31, 15-11) win.
“I don’t remember how many match points there were in the second set, but it was crazy! We enjoyed it a lot, but I think our coach did much less than us,” two-time Olympian Menegatti laughed after the match. “This was a great match not only for us, but also for our opponents. They fought a lot. We are so happy, because we often get great results in Moscow. It feels great to win on my birthday. I was thinking about it before the match, but not too much, so I don’t lose focus on the game. If our coach allows us, tonight we will celebrate a little bit, maybe with some sweets and some tiramisu…”
“For me it was a great to win the pool yesterday and continue winning today,” added Orsi Toth, who turned 29 herself just two days ago. “Let’s see how far we can go…”
Menegatti & Orsi Toth triumphant upon their eighthfinal victory
USA’s Brooke Sweat & Kerri Walsh Jennings, who won their pool on Kerri’s 41st birthday on Thursday, also extended their winning streak on Friday, earning a highly dramatic 2-1 (21-18, 16-21, 19-17) victory over China’s Chen Xue & Xinxin Wang to make the quarterfinals.
Two of the teams who progressed to the last eight had to do that the hardest way, by losing the first match on Thursday and having to win the next three on Friday.
Germany’s Karla Borger & Julia Sude, seeded 15th, went through three straight-set victories before celebrating with a ticket to the quarterfinals – 2-0 (21-10, 21-17) over Austria’s Nadine Strauss & Teresa Strauss, 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) over newly-crowned European champions Tina Graudina & Anastasija Kravcenoka of Latvia, and 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) over Japanese wild cards Megumi Murakami & Miki Koshikawa.
Brazil’s Taiana Lima & Talita Da Rocha Antunes, playing in seed 17, became the lowest ranked team to stay in contention also after shutting out all three of their opponents on Friday – 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) over Japan’s Sayaka Mizoe & Suzuka Hashimoto, 2-0 (21-15, 21-19) over seventh-seeded Americans Kelley Larsen & Emily Stockman and 2-0 (21-13, 21-19) over home favourites Ekaterina Birlova & Evgenia Ukolova.
Brazil’s Talita celebrates her team’s victory over Russia
In an all-Brazilian eighthfinal, fourth-seeded Ana Patricia Silva Ramos & Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva mastered a 2-1 (10-21, 21-19, 15-11) come-from-behind upset of the number one seed, Maria Antonelli & Carolina Solberg Salgado.
Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner & Elsa Baquerizo McMillan started their day with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) first elimination round win over fifth-seeded Dutchwomen Sanne Keizer & Madelein Meppelink, and followed it up with another big upset – 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-12) over second-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk & Eduarda Santos Lisboa of Brazil.
Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich & Anouk Verge-Depre managed two straight-set wins on the way to the quarterfinals – 2-0 (28-26, 21-17) over Netherlands’ Joy Stubbe & Marleen Ramond-van Iersel and 2-0 (21-15, 21-10) over Czechia’s Barbora Hermannova & Marketa Slukova.
Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s medal matches at the Moscow four-star will be streamed live on the FIVB YouTube channel. Quick links - Beach volleyball: