Key women’s pool play matches looming very large for Beach Volleyball World Championships

The Hague, Netherlands, April 2, 2015 – As the months quickly slip by rapidly approaching the most unique, memorable event in the history of the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) the Pool Play assignments have yielded many interesting matchups among the 144 group matches among 12, four-team pools for 48 women’s teams in this summer’s 10th FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships which will be held in four cities in the Netherlands.

With a total of 96 tandems (48 in each gender), two-person teams will be competing for part of a $1 million purse as the Netherlands hosts an FIVB international event for the sixth consecutive year.  Anchored in The Hague round-robin Pool Play will be played in The Hague, Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Rotterdam along with the first two rounds of elimination play for the 32 teams remaining per gender following three rounds of pool play. The semifinals and finals for each gender will be played on the stadium court in The Hague. The event will run from June 26-July 5.

With seven significant events played prior to June 26, starting April 21 in China and ending in mid-December, the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar will include five FIVB Grand Slams, the new FIVB Swatch Major Series of three events, six FIVB Opens and a special Swatch FIVB World Tour Season Final in the United States. The showcase event will be the $1 million 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in the Netherlands.

While there are certain to be the predictable numerous upsets during pool play, there are also some very interesting matchups based on the pool assignments determined Monday by the Drawing of Lots in The Hague.

As a prelude to the start of this year’s FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands there will be seven tournaments (six double-gender, one women-only) on the 2015 FIVB World Tour which will raise the level of competition even higher in the Netherlands. Several of these teams will most likely meet prior to the tournament during the FIVB World Tour events prior to June 26.

With one of the top 12 seeds in the tournament in each of the 12 pools, here, by venue and by pool, is a brief very early look at some key women’s Pool Play matchups looming large on the horizon of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships the Netherlands 2015:

POOL A –The Hague
Top-seeded Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel of Netherlands are both veteran players but have played in just 11 FIVB World Tour events as a team with a 21-15 match record against the team’s in this championship, two career bronze medals and one fourth place finish. In her nine years on the FIVB World Tour, Meppelink has one gold medal and in her four years on the tour, Van Iersel has two gold medals. In Pool A, two key match ups will be with Canada’s Melissa Humana-Parades/Taylor Pischke (six career WT events) and with Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova (46 WT events). The Dutch team has a 1-0 record again the Canadians and have not yet played against Kazakhstan’s Mashkova/Tsimbalova.

POOL H – The Hague
Spanish Olympians Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez have played in 72 FIVB World Tour events as a team with a 42-19 record against this field, three career silver medals, one bronze medal and three fourth place finishes and they also have a 5-1 record against Australian Olympian Louise Bawden and her current teammate Taliqua Clancy, who have played in 21 WT events.

POOL I – The Hague
Another of the new teams of veteran players, Brazil’s Fernanda Alves/Taiana Lima has played in six WT events entering 2015 with one gold medal and one fourth place finish and they are 1-0 against both of the Swiss teams in their pool, Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr, Switzerland and Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, Switzerland although the win against Heidrich/Zumkehr went three sets.

In the only women’s pool with two teams from the same country, Switzerland’s Heidrich/Zumkehr (18 FIVB WT events) and compatriots Forrer/Verge-Depre (32 WT events) are 1-1 in previous WT matches and this looks to be another key match to determine which teams advance to the elimination rounds in The Hague.

POOL B - Amsterdam
In the most prolific new team on the FIVB World Tour, Brazil’s Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca duo has a 19-3 match record against this field entering 2015 with four gold medals in just six FIVB World Tour events together and both have played on the WT for 13 seasons. Both Brazilian two-time Olympians with different teammates, Talita has played in 137 WT events with 22 gold medals and Larissa has played in 122 with 50 gold medals.  Providing stiff competition for the Brazilian tandem in pool play should be Switzerland’s Tanja Goricanec/Tanja Huberli. In their only previous meeting, Brazil won, but it took three sets to close it out.

POOL G - Amsterdam
One of the four super-talented teams from Brazl is another new team with veteran players Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta, Brazil. The Brazilian duo were No. 1 in the 2014 FIVB World Ranking and won the 2014 FIVB World Tour point title, competing in 14 events with one gold medal, four silvers, one bronze and one fourth place finish and a 34-19 overall match record together against the teams in this tournament. This will be the fourth appearance overall for Antonelli and sixth for Juliana in the FIVB World Championships. Antonelli won one bronze with Talita and Juliana won one gold medal, two silver medals and one bronze in four appearances with Larissa.

In their pool, Brazil’s Antonelli/Juliana will face a strong German duo in Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude. Brazil is 1-0 against the Germans who have played together nine times over the past few years with one silver medal and one fourth place finish.

POOL J - Amsterdam
Winners of the silver medal in the 2013 FIVB World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland, Germany’s Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, have a 35-23 overall match record against the field in this year’s world championships and in 43 tournaments as a team, they have won two silver medals, one bronze and they also have one fourth place finish. The German’s and USA’s Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat have not met before but it is expected to be a very interesting pool play match as the American duo are both experienced and have two fifth place finishes in just eight tournaments as a team. Individually, Fendrick has four fourth place finishes in 70 career FIVB World Tour events and Sweat has one bronze medal in 23 world tour participations

POOL C - Apeldoorn
Two of the most decorated American players are now a team as USA’s April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings have both won FIVB World Championships and both have Olympic medals on their resumes. The legendary Walshi Jennings with three consecutive Olympic gold medals and three gold medals at the FIVB World Championships while playing with the retired Misty May-Treanor. Ross won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the gold medal at the 2009 FIVB World Championships with former teammate Jennifer Kessy. Great Resume, but they are also older than most players with a combined age of 68 years and a combined 27 years experience on the FIVB World Tour..

Together, Ross/Walsh Jennings have a match record of 40-7 against this field, went a perfect 30-0 in Pool Play in 2014 while winning six gold medals in the 13 FIVB World Tour events they have played as a team entering the 2015 season. Individually Ross has played in 96 FIVB World Tour events with 16 gold medals and Walsh Jennings has competed in 99 with 50 gold medals to her credit.

A major challenge could be waiting for them in Pool Play from Canada’s Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan. The Canadians have lost both times previously to USA’s Ross/Walsh Jennings with one going three sets. Canada’s Bansley/Pavan have played in 18 FIVB World Tour events as a team with four fifth-place finishes. While Bansley has played nine years with the FIVB, Pavan has four seasons in after a long and successful indoor career.

POOL F - Apeldoorn
Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas are another well-prepared, experienced team from the South American powerhouse having played in 21 FIVB World Tour events as a team with a 31-16 record against the teams in this tournament with one gold medal, one silver medal, three bronze medals and six fifth-place finishes. Individually, Bednarczuk has been playing internationally for nine years and played in 76 tournaments while Seixas has 10 years experience with 41 events. A strong pool challenge could come from USA’s Emily Day/Jennifer Kessy, another very new duo with lots of experience. This will be the Americans first year playing as a team although Day has been playing with the FIVB for five years, appearing in 31 events with one silver medal and Kessy has been an FIVB star for 14 years with 105 events, 10 gold medals including winning the 2009 FIVB World Championship and the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games with former teammate April Ross.

POOL K - Apeldoorn
Considered by many as a talented team that could easily end up on the podium, Germany’s Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst are back together again after Walkenhorst was forced to the sidelines during last season with an illness. Together the Germans have played in 15 FIVB WT events, with a 21-11 match record against this field, with one gold medal, two silver medals, two bronze medals, one fourth place and three fifth place finishes including a fifth place finish in the 2013 FIVB World Championships in Poland. Individually, Ludwig, a German Olympian, has been playing in FIVB events for 12 years with 111 tournament participations and her younger teammate Walkenhorst, who has been playing internationally for five seasons with 23 events completed.

A stiff pool play challenge for the Germans could come from the Natalia Dubovcova/Dominika Nestarcova of the Slovak Republic. Making significant improvement with tremendous experience Dubovcova/Nestarcova have played as a team for seven seasons, competing in 43 tournaments with two bronze and three fifth-place finishes. The Germans won the only meeting between the two teams.

POOL D - Rotterdam
Leading the four women’s teams from Germany is the very experienced Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler duo that has a 54-23 record against the field in this year’s FIVB World Championships and as a team they have played in 88 total FIVB tournaments as a team with two gold medals, five silver medals, six bronze medals and four fourth-place finishes. Both veterans of 13 FIVB international seasons, this will be their fourth participation in the FIVB World Championships.

Czech Republic’s Martina Bonnerova/Barbora Hermannova and another improving team that is expected to challenge Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler for pool supremacy. Czech Republic’s Bonnerova/Hermannova ended the 2014 FIVB World Tour with a gold medal and the long-time team that has played 37 FIVB World Tour events together and finished last year’s season with a pair of fifth-place finishes before winning their first gold medal. The Germans do hold a 2-0 edge in the series history between the two teams.

POOL E - Rotterdam
Coming of their best season on the FIVB World Tour in 2014, Czech Republic’s fifth-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, Czech Republic are clear favorites to win their pool in Rotterdam, but they will be tested along the way. The Czech Republic Olympians have been a team for a decade and they have a 36-23 record against the teams in this year’s FIVB World Championships. As a tandem, they have played in 56 FIVB World Tour events and won two gold medals and one bronze medal on the 2014 FIVB World Tour, their first podium finishes.

Anticipated as the strongest challenge for the Czech Republic’s Kolocova/Slukova during Pool Play competition is China’s relatively new tandem of Xinyi Xia/Chen Xue. The two teams have not met prior to the 2015 season and China’s Xia/Xue feature one of the youngest players in Xia with one of the most experienced in 2008 and 2012 Olympian Xue. Xia, just 18, has played three seasons and this will be her first FIVB World Championships while the seasoned veteran Xue, only 26, has played 13 years and this will be her fifth participation in the premier event. Together they have played in 11 tournaments with two gold medals, two bronze medals and two fifth-place finishes. The two teams have not met before 2015.

The other team in Pool E that the Czech Republic team is very familiar with having a 4-2 record against them is Poland’s Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska. The Polish pair has played in 35 FIVB World Tour events as a team and they are former FIVB age-group World Champions. This will be their second FIVB World Championships after finishing ninth in their home country in 2013.

POOL L - Rotterdam
Starting at the top of Pool L in Rotterdam is China’s Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, a team with experience as Wang has played in 43 FIVB World Tour events and Yue has competed in 60. Together, they have a 23-21 record against the team’s in this year’s event and as a team they have played in 17 FIVB tournaments as a tandem with two silver medals and one fourth-place finish.

Top challenger in the pool will be the Italian duo of Olympian Marta Menegatti and fellow 24-year old Viktoria Orsi Toth. As a relatively new team Menegatti, who has played in 69 FIVB international tournaments, and Orsi Toth, who has been in 29, have competed in 17 as a team with one silver medal and two fourth place finishes. This will be Menegatti’s third FIVB World Championship and second for Orsi Toth.

Also in Pool L in Rotterdam, the fourth team will be decided in May as it will be the winner of the Dutch Premier League who will earn a wild card berth to give the Netherlands four women’s teams in the event.

With active sales underway for the past few weeks, tickets for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships The Netherlands 2015 are available for purchase at:

June 26-July 5, The Netherlands
(As of April 2, 2015)

POOL A in The Hague
Madelein Meppelink/Marleen Van Iersel, Netherlands
Melissa Humana-Paredes/Taylor Pischke, Canada
Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova, Kazakhstan
Maria A Orellana/Maria J Orellana, Guatemala

POOL H in The Hague
Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez, Spain
Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy, Australia
Erika Mongelos/Michelle Valiente, Paraguay
Gabriela Tomasekova/Tina Turnerova, Slovak Republic

POOL I in The Hague
Fernanda Alves/Taiana Lima, Brazil
Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr, Switzerland
Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, Switzerland
Vatalila Nel/Palesa Sekhonyana, South Africa

POOL B in Amsterdam
Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca, Brazil
Tanja Goricanec/Tanja Huberli, Switzerland
Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee, Thailand
Jantine van der Vlist/Sophie van Gestel, Netherlands

POOL G in Amsterdam
Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta, Brazil
Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude, Germany
Linline Matauatu/Elwin Miller, Vanuatu
Louiza Bayou/Meriem Boucheta, Algeria

Pool J in Amsterdam
Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, Germany
Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat, United States
Anastasia Barsuk/Alexandra Moiseeva, Russia
Priscilla Agera/Isabela Eyetsonetan, Nigeria

POOL C in Apeldoorn
Kerri Walsh Jennings/April Ross, United States
Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan, Canada
Mariafe Artacho/Nicole Laird, Australia
Rimke Braakman/Jolien Sinnema, Netherlands

POOL F in Apeldoorn
Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Brazil
Emily Day/Jennifer Kessy, United States
Bibiana Candelas/Martha Revuelta, Mexico
Lianma Flores/Leila Martinez, Cuba

POOL K in Apeldoorn
Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst, Germany
Natalia Dubovcova/Dominika Nestarcova, Slovak Republic
Karolina Baran/Jagoda Gruszczynska, Poland
Nathalia Alfaro/Karen Charles, Costa Rica

POOL D in Rotterdam
Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, Germany
Martina Bonnerova/Barbora Hermannova, Czech Republic
Norisbeth Agudo/Olaya Perez, Venezuela
Fabiana Gomez/Maria Nieto, Uruguay

POOL E in Rotterdam
Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, Czech Republic
Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska, Poland
Xinyi Xia/Chen Xue, China
Ikram Ettayafi/Mahassine Siad, Morocco

POOL L in Rotterdam
Fan Wang/Yuan Yue, China
Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth, Italy
Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug, Argentina
WILD CARD, Netherlands


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