Emily Stockman happy about her new team’s debut

Emily Stockman happy about her new team’s debut

All participants in Friday’s main draw at the Kuşadası Challenge event on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour became known on Thursday. Women’s pairs from Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and two from USA, and men’s duos from Australia, Austria (two), Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and USA made it through the qualifiers to fill the remaining vacancies in the 24-team main draw bracket in each gender.

The main draw programme will open on the four courts with the women’s pool play at 09:00 local time on Friday morning and will continue with the first men’s matches.

· All the matches of the Kuşadası Challenge will be available to watch live or on demand on Volleyball TV.

USA’s Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft made a successful first appearance as team, winning both their matches in straight sets and looking forward to finding out their opponents in the pool stage. Stockman, who played alongside Lauren Fendrick in her previous Beach Pro Tour participations, and 19-year-old Kraft, a 2021 U19 world champ and a Beach Pro Tour rookie, hammered out a 2-0 (21-11, 21-7) shutout of fellow Americans Melissa Fuchs and Tambre Nobles in the first qualification round. Stockman and Kraft followed that up with another straight-setter, 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) in the decider against Spain’s Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno.

Megan Kraft aces against Alvarez & Moreno

The United States was the only country to push two of its women’s pairs through Thursday’s qualifiers. Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss also progressed to the main draw without losing a set. They produced a 2-0 (21-13, 21-10) shutout of Canada’s Katharine Wuttunee and Darby Dunn and went on to defeat Ukrainian twins Inna Makhno and Iryna Makhno by 2-0 (24-22, 21-16).

19th-seeded Emma Piersma and Mexime van Driel were the lowest ranked team to qualify. The Dutch duo knocked out 14th-seeded Alina Dormann and Amanda Harnett of Canada by 2-0 (21-12, 21-11) and third-seeded Atenas Gutierrez and Maria Quintero of Mexico by 2-0 (21-16, 21-13) along the way, while Norway’s Sunniva Helland-Hansen and Emilie Olimstad mastered the most emphatic victory of the deciding qualification round, allowing their opponents, Emi van Driel and Pleun Ypma of the Netherlands, a total of 24 points only – 2-0 (21-13, 21-11).

Canada’s Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara, France’s Aline Chamereau and Clemence Vieira, Italy’s Margherita Bianchin and Claudia Scampoli, and Japan’s Asami Shiba and Takemi Nishibori were the remaining four women’s teams to advance to the main draw.

“Last time we got ninth in Brazil, so now we are going to do our best to achieve the same result or even go a little further,” Margherita Bianchin told Volleyball World. “We are trying to get as far as possible because these are good points for us and we have the World Championship in Rome coming up.”

In the men’s competition, the two Austrian teams did not drop a single set along the way to the main draw. Julian Horl and Alexander Horst claimed a 2-0 (21-14, 21-14) win over France’s Arthur Canet and Teo Rotar in the first round and a 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) victory over Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Miguel Sarabia in the second, while top seeds Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz, who took bronze at the previous Challenge tournament in Doha, played only one game on Thursday and mastered a 2-0 (21-13, 21-15) shutout of Israel’s Eylon Elazar and Netanel Amiram Ohana.

Horl & Horst v Virgen & Sarabia: Highlights

With another four men’s teams getting byes in the first qualification round, USA’s Chase Budinger and Troy Field were one of the pairs, who managed to grab two wins to qualify. They started their day off with a speedy 2-0 (21-14, 21-12) victory over Turkey’s Yusuf Ozdemir and Mustafa Susam, but then had to work for it against New Zealand’s Thomas Reid and Ben O'Dea to celebrate with a tight 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 15-11) success.

“Our goal is to take it one game at a time and hopefully bring home a medal for USA,” said Troy Field. “The start of the tournament was great. We got to play at an amazing stadium and it was super fun to see the fans. The energy was awesome! Those guys, both Turkey and New Zealand, played really well.”

Switzerland’s Adrian Heidrich and Leo Dillier had it tough in both their matches, but persevered through two tie-breakers to book their spot in the main draw. They overcame Lithuania’s Artur Vasiljev and Robert Juchnevic by 2-1 (23-21, 16-21, 15-11) and then came back from a set down against Denmark’s Jacob Stein Brinck and Kristoffer Abell to rejoice with a 2-1 (14-21, 21-13, 15-11) victory.

Leo Dillier's top plays against Brinck & Abell

Also moving on with two wins on their qualifier tallies were Matthew Immers and Mart Van Werkhoven of the Netherlands and Arturs Rinkevics and Ardis Bedritis of Latvia. The 18th-seeded Latvians were the lowest ranked men’s pair to progress to the main draw, after defeating Italians Jakob Windisch and Gianluca Dal Corso by 2-0 (21-11, 21-17) and second-seeded Canadians Daniel Dearing and Samuel Schachter by 2-1 (21-19, 16-21, 16-14).

The other two successful teams in Thursday’s men’s qualifiers were Australia’s Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis and Norway’s Mathias Berntsen and Hendrik Nikolai Mol.