Twice over the last two weeks, Marleen van Iersel and Pleun Ypma had to endure the frustration of losing a three-set match in a qualifier in Cancun. On Wednesday, the Dutch had a different feeling as they managed to qualify for the main draw of the third and last FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event held at the Playa Delfines.
Van Iersel and Ypma remained strong during difficult times and won a pair of matches to secure their main draw spot in the last tournament in Mexico. In the morning, the Europeans defeated the home team of Danna Cortes and Paulette Cruz 2-0 (21-12, 21-16). In the afternoon, they had another strong showing to down Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska and Aleksandra Wachowicz 2-0 (21-15, 21-13) to advance.
“It feels really good,” van Iersel commented. “The last two weeks have been really tough because even though we’re happy to be here playing, when you don’t qualify, that's when you miss your family and your home even more. But we didn’t give up, we just kept doing our work and training and maybe third time is a charm.”
Playing in qualifiers is something new for the 33-year-old van Iersel, who had last appeared in the preliminary round of an event before Cancun back in 2017. A two-time Olympian and European champion, the Dutch has had to face a restart in 2021 after her former partner Joy Stubbe decided to take some time off from the sport to become a mother.
At that time, the team was inside the top 15 in the Olympic rankings and on the path to qualify for Tokyo. With Ypma, van Iersel will have to focus on the Continental Cup to be in the Games for a third and final time in her career.
“Honestly, everything I can get this year is a bonus,” the defender added. “When my former partner decided to quit last year, I was in a very difficult position and I didn’t know what I’d do. I didn’t want my career to end like that, so I’m grateful that I still have a chance to qualify for Tokyo, which will probably be my last stop. Pleun is an amazing player, she’s really talented and has a lot of great years ahead of her.”
The biggest upset in the third qualifier in Cancun was starred in by young Swiss Zoe Verge-Depre, 23, and Esmee Bobner, 21, who knocked out top-seeded Brazilians Barbara Seixas, a Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist, and Carolina Solberg with a 2-0 (21-16, 23-21) victory).
Cubans Lidiannis 'Lidy' Echeverria and Yanisleidis Sanchez managed to celebrate their qualification for a third straight week after they downed Dutch pair Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam 2-0 (21-17, 21-11). The Caribbean were the only women to advance in all three qualifiers in Mexico.
The other teams to advance to the main draw were USA's Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil, Finland's Riikka Lehtonen/Niina Athiainen, Germany's Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider, the Czech Republic's Michala Kvapilova/Michaela Kubickova, Norway's Ingrid Lunde/Emilie Olimstad and Russia's Mariia Bocharova/Aleksandra Ganenko. The Russians lost their second match in the qualifier, but benefited from the withdrawal of a main draw team and advanced as 'lucky losers'.
The main draw starts on Thursday in Cancun and all matches will be streamed live on the Beach Volleyball World Youtube channel. Subscribe, log in and set reminders to receive notifications when streams begin.
Cancun Hub - 3rd event
Cancun Hub - 3rd event - Match schedule
Provisional Olympic ranking - Men
Provisional Olympic ranking - Women
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour