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2015-07-08 14:03:00 CET

Marathon set at Gstaad Major

Women’s Pool play has only just begun at the Swatch Beach Volleyball Major Series stop in Switzerland, but teams have already thrown themselves into the deep end, with Canadian and Chinese contenders launching an opening set that featured a thrilling 14 set-point saves. Meanwhile, the new world champions had an easier morning as the road to Rio continues.

As Pool play kicked off in Gstaad, the Chinese team of Fan Wang F. and Yuan Yue faced Canadians Jamie Lynn Broder and Kristina Valjas to give spectators at Side Court 3 a taste of just how intense the week’s play will be. In the first set alone, the teams saved 14 set points before Valjas managed to clinch the required two-point margin for a score of 35-33. As the match went on, the women from China – who eliminated superstar Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross at the FIVB World Championships on July 2 – bounced back, taking the second set 21-11. But in the third, despite a mountain altitude where the thin air makes the ball fly even faster while breathing is significantly harder, the Canadians somehow found their second wind and pulled off the victory, 15-13, for a match time of 68 minutes. Both teams must recover rapidly for play against new opponents in the afternoon.

Photocredit: Andreas LangreiterPhotocredit: Andreas Langreiter

In other early women’s action, Brazil continued the strong performances they’ve been showing all year. Porec Major winners Larissa França and Talita Antunes of Brazil defeated their countrywomen Maria Clara Salgado and Carolina Solberg Salgado; the new world champions Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas showed why they’re ranked number one in the world in taking down a German team; and Stavanger Major victors Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli prevailed against Japan. All survive to continue in the Pool format.

Photocredit: Andreas LangreiterPhotocredit: Andreas Langreiter

Highlights of the morning play for men: the American team of Nick Lucena and Theodore Brunner, fresh off their Semifinal appearance the FIVB World Championships, breezed through a Center Court tussle with Switzerland’s Roman Sutter and Bernhard Beyeler, winning in just 31 minutes. Meanwhile the dynamic Italians Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula, on the hunt for another medal after earning bronze at the Porec Major, needed a full three sets to eliminate Sven Vismans and Wessel Keemink of the Netherlands. Both winning teams will have to survive another match in the afternoon to advance to Main Draw play on Thursday.

Matches for women and men continue throughout the afternoon, including two matches for Walsh Jennings in her Swatch Major Series debut.