The first eighthfinalists of the women’s tournament at the Katara Beach Volleyball Cup emerged on Tuesday, as the eight pool winners came forward and claimed their spots among the last 16 of the competition. Six pool finals were pushed to tie-breakers.
The winners of Pool B were determined in a big all-American clash between USA’s top two pairs - Alix Klineman and April Ross against Brooke Sweat and Kerri Walsh Jennings. With legendary teammates and opponents Ross and Walsh Jennings on opposite sides of the net, the two teams engaged in a hard-fought three-set battle. Alix and April lived up to their status as the number two seed in the tournament and mastered a 2-1 (21-17, 20-22, 15-10) victory.
“It was great to be back on the court today and get our first results. I was really proud of how we played and how we battled. It wasn’t perfect, but we played as a team. I’m proud of us,” Alix said. “We are looking to set the tone for the beginning of the season and we’re really grateful to be here in Doha after a long time of not playing. We are excited and look into the future.”
“Once you get out here, every team is really good and every team is trying to win the tournament. You don’t want to come up against your own country, but at least it was in pool play and we’ll both be moving on and have a chance. It’s really tough playing that specific team. They are really good and they pushed us, so I feel very grateful to come out on top,” April added.
An American pair also won Pool C. In the pool final, Emily Stockman and Kelley Kolinske came back from a set down against Russia’s Mariia Bocharova and Aleksandra Ganenko to claim a 2-1 (16-21, 21-19, 15-11) victory. Earlier in the day, the young Russian qualifiers delivered a 2-1 (21-19, 13-21, 15-10) upset of third-seeded Brazilans Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda).
There was also a great North American battle in the final of Pool A. After losing an extended first set, USA’s Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil managed to push their match with top-seeded Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada to a tie-breaker, where they denied two match points for the opponents. The reigning world champions, however, emerged with a hard-fought 2-1 (24-22, 18-21, 16-14) victory and a spot in the eighthfinals.
Brazil’s Barbara Seixas De Freitas and Carolina Solberg Salgado had to deal with two Russian teams in Pool H. In the morning, they delivered a 2-0 (21-14, 21-14) shutout of Ksenia Dabizha and Daria Rudykh. In the afternoon, the Brazilians had a much more competitive encounter with Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina, but dominated the tiebreak for a 2-1 (21-18, 18-21, 15-8) victory.
Meanwhile, 2016 Olympic champion Laura Ludwig and her current teammate Margareta Kozuch persevered through two very tough three-set matches to emerge top of Pool G. First, they took a 2-1 (22-20, 19-21, 15-11) win over fellow Germans Sarah Schneider and Leonie Kortzinger. Then, they defeated Czechia’s Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova by 2-1 (24-22, 16-21, 15-12).
Another German duo, 21st-seeded Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider, came back from a set down to produce a 2-1 (17-21, 21-17, 15-11) upset of fifth-seeded Brazilians Ana Patricia Silva Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva for the first place in Pool E.
Switzerland’s Tanja Huberli and Nina Betschart, seeded fourth, topped Pool D, and their sixth-seeded compatriots Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre finished first in Pool F, both without dropping a set.
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