The 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is back in the USA for the first time in a decade. So far it is serving up some great action and many surprises. Three time Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh dropped out last minute with an injury - leaving the field wide open.

PictureMaria Antonelli (L) of Brazil spikes the ball over Carolina Salgado of Brazil
Four women’s teams remaining out of the original 32 that started the main draw
following Thursday’s round of 16 and quarterfinals at the $440,000 FIVB Long Beach
Grand Slam double-gender tournament. Friday the FIVB Beach Volleyball World
Tour is back in the USA for the first time in a decade. While the men’s teams played
the last of three pool play matches on Thursday and the first single elimination match,
the women baked and battled under the warm Southern California sunshine. Friday
will be the semifinals and medal matches to conclude the women’s portion of the event.

The 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is back in the USA for the first
time since 2003. With the event being held for the first time in Long Beach the
purpose-built site is located on the expansive glistening sands of Marina Green
Park on East Lakeshore Drive. Matches at the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam,
presented by ASICS, are scheduled to start at 8:15 a.m. Friday with the men’s
round of 16 followed at 1:00 p.m. with the men’s quarterfinals and the men’s
semifinals will be at 4:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

The women’s semifinals will be held at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. with the
women’s bronze at 2 p.m. followed by the women’s gold medal match at 3:00 p.m.
General admission is free to the event. VIP tickets are on sale through the
event website at

With final four placements secured, meeting in the women’s semifinals Friday
will be Germany’s No. 7-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler vs. Brazil’s No.
4-seeded Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado and No. 2-seeded Taiana
Lima/Talita Antunes vs. USA’s No. 15-seeded Emily Day/Summer Ross.

To earn their final four spots by winning their respective Thursday’s
quarterfinal matches, Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler stopped USA’s No. 8-seeded
Lauren Fendrick/Brittany Hochevar, 21-16, 21-18 in 38 minutes; Brazil’s Salgado
sisters defeated No. 5-seeded compatriots Agatha Bednarczuk/Maria Antonelli,
23-21, 31-29 in 56 minutes; USA’s Day/Ross came from behind to upset Slovak
Republic’s No. 13-seeded Natalia Dubovcova/Dominika Nextarcova, 17-21, 21-13,
15-11 in 46 minutes and Brazil’s Lima/Antunes finally overcame Canada’s No.
24-seeded Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley, 17-21, 21-15, 15-11 in 55 minutes. The
losing teams in the quarterfinals all leave Long Beach with official fifth place

In the women’s round of 16 matchups that started Thursday’s competition
schedule, Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler eliminated Switzerland’s No. 17-seeded
Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, 25-27, 21-18, 15-5 in 54 minutes; USA’s
Fendrick/Hochevar defeated No. 12-seeded compatriots Jennifer Fopma/Brooke
Sweat, 21-18, 22-20 in 37 minutes; Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Antonelli eliminated
USA’s top-seeded April Ross/Jennifer Kessy, 21-15, 13-21, 16-14 in 52 minutes
and Brazil’s Salgado sisters eliminated Switzerland’s No. 9-seeded Nadine
Zumkehr/Joana Heidrich, 21-15, 21-19 in 38 minutes.

In the second four matches of the round of 16 Thursday morning, Slovak
Republic’s Dubovcova/Nextarcova upset Brazil’s No. 3-seeded, Barbara
Seixas/Liliane Maestrini, 19-21, 21-16, 15-12 in 54 minutes; USA’s Day/Ross
upset Spain’s No. 6-seeded Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo, 21-18, 21-15 in 39
minutes; Canada’s Pavan/Bansley outlasted Czech Republic’s No. 10-seeded
Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, 21-18, 23-25, 15-11 in 60 minutes and
Brazil’s Lima/Antunes fought through a comeback attempt to beat Germany’s No.
20-seeded Jana Kohler/Anni Schumacher, 21-6, 19-21, 15-12 in 47 minutes.

After recording their fifth straight win in Long Beach with their
quarterfinal victory, Brazil’s Antunes, who with her teammate Taina Lima lead
the point standings in the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, said, “We
started better than Canada but they rallied to catch-up once we started making
mistakes in the first set. At that point we called a time out and said to one
another ‘lets stay focused here, they are doing well, but we can do this, it is
for the quarterfinals’. We just had to give ourselves the best chance to win.
You cannot get ahead of yourself. You must play one point at a time.”

In looking ahead to Friday’s semifinal against USA’s Day/Ross, Antunes
commented, “I think this will be a tough match! Everyone will be here to support
USA. Yet, I think it will still be fun, regardless. We did play against them in
the pool (and won) but this will be a completely different match, everything is
tougher at this point. We just need to prepare ourselves for the tough

The FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, presented by ASICS, is the showcase part of
the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a SoCal beach festival that includes
4-person and 6-person recreational events, a youth tournament and nightly music
concerts. Also part of the event is the inaugural ASICS World Series Cup
featuring two teams in each gender from the USA against two international teams
with the finals on Sunday. In addition to the international live FIVB telecasts,
the event also includes 23 hours of live or same-day telecasts split between NBC
Sports Network, Universal Network and NBC TV Network.

The women’s semifinals and medal matches of the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam
will be held on Friday with the men’s semifinals also on Friday and men’s medal
matches closing the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam on Saturday. Play Wednesday
through Friday will start at 8 a.m. and at 11 a.m. on Saturday for the men’s
medal matches.

The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam will
each split $33,000, the silver $22,000, the bronze $16,500 and fourth place
$12,900. The women’s medal matches will be held on Friday and the men’s medal
matches on Saturday. The FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam is the 291st FIVB
international men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1987 and the 253rd FIVB
women’s tournament since women started international competition in 1992.

The 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is comprised of 10 Grand Slam
events and the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. Not part of the
World Tour but still counting towards the FIVB World Rankings, the FIVB yearly
calendar also includes seven Open events, five double-gender and two women-only.
There is a double-gender FIVB Open event being playing this week as well in
Anapa, Russia.

After another week off next week, the 10-Grand Slam 2013 FIVB World Tour will
continue in two weeks in Germany at the $440,000 FIVB Berlin Grand Slam. The
season finale of the tour will be in Brazil in mid-October at the $440,000 FIVB
Sao Paulo Grand Slam.

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