The Hague, The Netherlands, June 26, 2015 - The first serve of the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships will be here Friday where a pair of Dutch teams are seeking a delightful start in front of their families, friends and fans on the sand at The Hofvijver stadium court in front of the Netherlands' center of government.
After the early evening opening ceremonies Friday for the 10th annual beach volleyball world championships, reigning European champions and women’s top-seed Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel from the Netherlands play 25th-seeded Tatyana Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova of Kazakhstan in the first match of the 2015 event.
The opening activities conclude later Friday when Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst, the top-seeded men’s pair, faces a challenge from 25th-seeded Carlos Escobar and David Vargas of El Salvador. The two matches will be the first of 144 pool play contests to be staged over a five-day period to set the field for Wednesday’s opening elimination rounds in the $1-million FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
The 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships features competitors from 40 countries with competition being held at four sites in the Netherlands - The Hague, Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Rotterdam. The 2015 FIVB World Championships conclude July 4 and 5 with the women’s and men’s medal matches, respectively.
With the 2015 FIVB World Championships being the most unique event of its kind in the history of the sport, the winning teams will secure Rio 2016 Olympic Games berths for their country. In addition, the teams topping the podium in the men’s and women’s competition will share the $60,000 first-place along with garnering 1,000 FIVB World Tour points that will be used in determining the lineup for the season-ending tour finale in the United States at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
With an Olympic berth at stake along with the prize money and valuable FIVB World Tour points, 18 men’s teams from 11 countries and 15 women’s pairs from 10 nations are projected as the tandems to watch at the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships based on past performances.
Infostrada Sports, a world leader in sports data that makes analytics predictions for major sports events, has provided a “forecast of how the rest of the tournament will play out based on each of the teams’ past performances. The forecast is based on an algorithm that Infostrada Sports’ Analytics department created by taking the results of all matches of the Olympic Games, World Championships and World Tour since 2004 into account.
With the six men’s FIVB World Tour events featuring a different winning team from six different countries (Brazil, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and the United States), Brazilians have dominated the women’s competition with five gold medal finishes (the Czech Republic, Russia, Croatia, Norway and the United States). Canadian (China) and German (Switzerland) complete this season.
In the men’s competition, two host country teams rank as Infostrada Sports’ top two tandems to reach the quarter-finals along with pairs from Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain and the United States. The forecast has the Dutch teams of Nummerdor/Varenhorst and Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen reaching the final four along with Americans Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson and Brazilians Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos.
Nummerdor and Varenhorst, who will be playing in only their eighth FIVB World Tour event together, have four final four finishes with three podium placements and two gold medals to their credit. The Dutch are 2-1 in title matches after dropping a three-set finale last week in the United States to Gibb and Patterson in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Brouwer and Meeuwsen, the reigning world champions, are the No. 1-ranked team on the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour with three medals in five tournaments this season with a podium topping performance earlier this month in Croatia at the inaugural SWATCH Major Series event. Emanuel (42) and Ricardo (40), the oldest team in the competition with a combined age of 82, are the winningest men’s team in FIVB World Tour history with 2003 world championship and Athens 2004 Olympic gold medals to their credit.
Infostrada Sports is forecasting that four Brazilian women’s teams could reach the “Eight 8” of the world championship competition along with pairs from Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the United States.
Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca have been listed by Infostrada Sports with a 40 percent chance to win the gold medal, 53 percent chance to reach the finals, 69 percent chance to reach the semi-finals and 82 percent chance to reach the quarter-finals. Compatriots Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta Silva and Fernanda Alves/Taiana Lima are the leading contenders to play Talita and Larissa in the finals.
The pairs of Talita/Larissa (Russia and Croatia) and Agatha/Barbara (Czech Republic and United States) have each won two gold medals each this season. Before finishing ninth last week in St. Petersburg, Talita and Larissa had won six-straight FIVB World Tour events that they entered, including four at the end of the 2014 season when they formed their partnership.
Antonelli and Juliana defeated Agatha and Barbara for the title in Norway two weeks ago. Fernanda and Lima, who teamed to win the FIVB World Tour stop last season in The Hague, reached the podium last week in the United States where Agatha and Barbara avenged the Stavanger setback by defeating Antonelli and Juliana in the finals.
Although projections and forecasting are useful in predicting the final results, the “educated” guesses are not always accurate. An example was at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships where Brouwer and Meeuwsen “surprised” the world in winning the gold medal.
Prior to the Stare Jablonki event, Brouwer and Meeuwsen had never finished higher than fifth in a FIVB World Tour event together. The Dutch dropped a pool play contest to a team from Poland before rebounding to win five-straight matches to win the world championship in their 24th FIVB event together. Brouwer and Meeuwsen’s first elimination win in Stare Jablonki was over compatriots Nummerdor and Richard Schuill, the two-time Dutch Olympians.
So the stage is set for Friday’s opening serve at The Hofvijver stadium court. Will the predictions come true or will the forecast prove unpredictable? For this year’s competitors like Brouwer and Meeuwsen in 2013, there is hope for more surprises in the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.