Lausanne, Switzerland, October 6, 2020 – Elsa Baquerizo McMillan and Liliana ‘Lili’ Fernandez Steiner have flown the flag for Spain’s women on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour for over a decade, and for the moment they show no sign of slowing down.
In that time, they have appeared at the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games and five FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
They are set for their third Olympic Games having won the FIVB Olympic Qualifying Tournament in September 2019, with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 15-10) win over Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Sandra Ittlinger that earned a berth for their country at Tokyo 2020.
“It has been a long season with a lot of frustrations, especially since we reached the quarterfinals several times (four to be exact) and never advanced to the medal rounds,” Elsa said.
“The wind was a factor for our slow start in the first set,” Liliana added. “It was frustrating us, and we finally settled at the end of the first set and started handling the windy conditions better.”
The New York-born Elsa and Lili, who hails from Alicante, made their breakthrough in 2007 when they finished fourth at the 2007 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships and within a year they made their World Tour debuts at the Barcelona Open.
In 2012 they finished with bronze from the CEV European Championships and progressed to the knockout rounds on their Olympic debuts at London 2012.
Buoyed by their progress they won silver at the Aland Open later in 2012, and then added another when the 2013 season began with the Fuzhou Open.
By the end of the year they had won their first Grand Slam medals with bronze in Moscow, and won another European Championships medal, this time silver after losing to Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schweiger in Klagenfurt.
In 2014 they added more silver, from the Stavanger Grand Slam, but they had to wait two years for their next World Tour podium finishes, silver at the Sochi Open and bronze at the Cincinnati Open which helped pave their way to Rio 2016.
At Rio 2016 they reached the knockout rounds again and once finished at Copacabana they claimed another World Tour silver, this time on the Pacific Coast at the Long Beach Grand Slam where they lost to Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross.
“I think it was a close even if the numbers don’t say it,” Elsa said post-match.
“It was an interesting match. We could have done better probably but we are happy about our tournament and getting the silver medal. We played great, very consistent.”
Liliana missed the whole of the following season, but had a good reason for doing so, she was pregnant with her first child.
Following the safe arrival of a son, Saul, Liliana returned to competing with Elsa six months after giving birth.
They marked their comeback by winning bronze at the 2019 European Championships which came a month before they qualified for Tokyo 2020.
Saul has been a constant companion for the pair since his arrival, and Lili knows if she needs a break he will be in safe hands, just as her beach volleyball career has been all these years.
“It is harder because I have two roles now, but I love it and I love to have him in my life,” Lili said at the start of 2019. “He and my husband travel with me and I feel so happy to have both roles.
“The time I spend training and what I do every day I share with my husband. He takes care of Saul in the morning and my time is in the afternoon, so I take him to the gym.
“Elsa is a really great auntie and she loves him. She starts playing with him and I know Saul is safe with her.”