Vienna Worlds will crown a new women’s champion

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 7, 2017 - With the breakup of the Brazilian partnership of Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas following their silver medal finish at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, a new women’s champion team will be crowned this August at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna.

Qualification process - Women

Playing with new partners this season - Agatha/Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa and Barbara/Fernanda Alves, these two Brazilian pairs were among 25 teams from 14 countries that qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the FIVB World Tour entry rankings following last weekend’s stop in Moscow along with the two host country slots for Austria.

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Other countries
In addition to Brazil with four qualifying pairs, other countries earning spots in the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships via the FIVB World Tour entry rankings were Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States. Austria gained two spots as the host country for the 11th edition of the FIVB World Championships.

The $1-million event will be played July 28 through August 6 at the state-of-the art Vienna Centre Court at Donauinsel with the focal point of the action and entertainment being held with a picturesque view of the Danube River and the lively atmosphere of the Beach Village.  The winning men’s and women’s teams will split the $60,000 first-place prizes.

With the 2015 worlds staged at four sites in the Netherlands (The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Apeldoorn), Agatha and Barbara captured the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships by defeating compatriots Fernanda Alves and Taiana Lima in the gold medal match at The Hague. It marked the fifth time a Brazilian women’s team won the world title following championship efforts in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2011.

Following their second-place finish last August at the Copacabana Summer Games to Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, Agatha and Barbara started the 2017 campaign playing with their new partners and each pair have netted gold medal finishes this season. Barbara and Fernanda topped the podium in China in a mid-April FIVB World Tour stop in Xiamen while Agatha and Duda followed the lead with a gold medal finish in Rio de Janeiro last month.

Other Brazilians
The new Brazilian partners will be joined in Vienna by compatriots Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca and Taiana Lima/Elize Maia. Except for Duda, all the Brazilians have competed in the World Championships with Larissa teaming with Juliana Felisberta to win the 2011 world title at the Foro Italico in Rome. However, the 18-year old Duda has captured gold medals at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games and five FIVB Age Group World Championships.

Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst celebrate winning gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Ludwig and Walkenhorst, Germany has placed three teams in the Vienna worlds with Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude and Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider. Ludwig and Walkenhorst, who placed 17th at the 2015 World Championships, finished the 2016 international season as the top pair on the international circuit with seven gold medals highlighted by the Olympic crown and a podium-topping performance at the 2016 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in Canada.

Three teams from the United States qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the entry points led by April Ross, who captured the gold medal at the 2009 World Championships in Norway by upsetting Juliana and Larissa in the Stavanger finale. A two-time Olympic medal winner, April Ross will be playing with Lauren Fendrick in Vienna.

Three American pairs

Other USA qualifiers for Vienna are new American pairs - Summer Ross/Brooke Sweat and Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes. Summer (no relation to April) and Sweat have placed fourth and second in two FIVB events this season. Claes and Hughes are two-time American collegiate champions and gold medal winners at the 2016 World University Games in Estonia.

Summer Ross of the United States and Larissa Franca of Brazil battle at the net at the recent Moscow FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event.

Canada, the Czech Republic and Switzerland have qualified two teams each for the World Championships via the entry points. The Canadian pairs are “new” partnerships this season after the breakup of Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley after their fifth-place finish in the Rio Olympics. Pavan is playing with Melissa Humana-Paredes and Bansley with Brandie Wilkerson. Pavan and Humana-Paredes finished second to Agatha and Duda in Rio last month.

The Czech Republic pairs are Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova/Michala Kvapilova while Swiss entries are Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli and Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre. Heidrich and Verge-Depre are a new partnership after playing with Nadine Zumkehr and Isabelle Forrer in the Rio Olympics.

Host country pairs

Host country entrants for Austria will be Katharina Schutzenhofer/Stefanie Schwaiger and Lena Plesiutschnig/Cornelia Rimser. The 30-year old Schwaiger, who has won 341 of 668 FIVB matches since first playing in 2002, is the most-decorated Austrian women’s player on the World Tour with 159 starts highlighted by six podium-placing performances with her sister (Doris).  The Schwaigers posted fifths at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, and 2009 and 2013 FIVB World Championships.

Teams from countries with only one duo each qualifying via the FIVB entry points are Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug of Argentina, Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy of Australia, Fan Wang/Yuan Yue of China, Taru Lahti/Riikka Lehtonen of Finland, Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel of the Netherlands, Elsa Baquerizo/Angela Lobato of Spain and Valentyna Davidova/Ievgeniia Shchypkova of the Ukraine.

Continental qualifiers to be confirmed later today.


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