Espinho, Portugal, July 18, 2019 – Two teams from Brazil, two from USA and one each from China, Greece, Russia and Spain achieved two wins apiece in Thursday’s pool stage of the women’s main draw at the four-star Espinho stop on the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour to top the standings in their respective pools and advance straight to the round of 16. Another 16 pairs coped with the windy conditions on Portugal’s Atlantic coast to snatch at least one victory and stay in contention by finishing pool’s second or third and progressing to the round of 24.
Barbara Seixas De Freitas & Fernanda Alves were the first team to secure a spot in the last 16. In a very tough company of contenders in Pool F, the fifth-seeded Brazilians managed two hard-fought straight-set wins to claim the first place. In their morning match, Barbara & Fernanda posted a narrow 2-0 (22-20, 21-19) victory over Finland’s Riikka Lehtonen & Niina Ahtiainen and in the afternoon they delivered a 2-0 (21-11, 21-19) shutout of Slovakia’s Andrea Strbova & Natalia Dubovcova.
“We are satisfied with our two victories. We know there are some things we need to work on some more, especially on our serving, because this wind is making it a little more difficult to serve well. But tactically I think we did a good job. In the first game we were adapting to these conditions and I think we are getting better each game and hopefully tomorrow we will play even better,” analyzed Barbara.
“I think we did a great job today, but the competition is long and we have to focus on our next game. I think it is very nice that the Portuguese fans here are cheering for Brazil. It is a bit odd for us because at most of the events in Europe we don’t get as much support as we do here,” Fernanda added.
Greece’s Panagiota Karagkouni blocks against Poland
Vasiliki Arvaniti & Panagiota Karagkouni who came into the main draw from Wednesday’s qualifications topped Pool G and became the lowest ranked team to book a direct ticket to the eighthfinals. The 26th-seeded Greek duo started off with a tight 2-1 (21-17, 13-21, 15-12) victory over seventh-seeded Kelly Claes & Sarah Sponcil of USA and followed up with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) win of the pool final against Poland’s Kinga Wojtasik & Katarzyna Kociolek.
Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner & Elsa Baquerizo McMillan, seeded 15th in the main draw, hammered out a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) upset of second-seeded Czechs Barbora Hermannova & Marketa Slukova in the winners’ match of Pool B. In the first leg, the Spaniards mastered a 2-0 (21-19, 21-13) shutout of another strong opponent, Germany’s Kim Behrens & Cinja Tillmann.
In the Pool C final, 18th-seeded Chen Xue & Xinxin Wang of China stunned third-seeded Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk & Eduarda Santos Lisboa, cruising to a 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) straight-setter and a spot in the round of 16. Earlier in the pool, the Chinese delivered another upset, 2-1 (21-19, 16-21, 15-9) against 14th-seeded Marta Menegatti & Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy.
Over-the-net duel between China’s Xinxin Wang and Italy’s Marta Menegatti
First-seeded Ana Patricia Silva Ramos & Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva of Brazil, fourth-seeded Brooke Sweat & Kerri Walsh Jennings of USA, fifth-seeded Nadezda Makroguzova & Svetlana Kholomina of Russia and ninth-seeded Kelley Larsen & Emily Stockman of USA lived up to the expectations to win their pools and skip the first knockout round on Friday.
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