CKU Paris ITA-SUI 014

The most lopsided score of the Paris Elite16 thus far – Nina Brunner and Tanja Huberli’s 21-6 second set victory over France’s Lezana Placette and Alexia Richard – is also something of a strange one, not only because of the vast difference in points scored, but because of how deceiving it is for what was actually happening on the court. At first blush, that score would suggest a complete meltdown from Placette and Richard, perhaps the pressure of playing at home, in their first Elite16 main draw, in Roland Garros, of all places, got to them. Perhaps it was a litany of errors that led to their demise.

But it was none of the above. It was, rather, a testament to just how good Bruner and Huberli were on Thursday afternoon in Paris. Nothing Placette and Richard tried worked – and they tried plenty. A swing into the angle? Dug by Brunner. Near-perfect cut shot? Dug again. Seam swing? High line? Low line? Dug dug dug. And if it wasn’t Brunner making the play, it was Huberli, getting a touch off the block, wheeling back into offense, then hitting a perfectly placed shot in transition. It was Huberli smothering the angle, or swatting the short line.

It was, in short, perfection on display by Switzerland, in what would amount to be a 21-15, 21-6 win in their opening round of pool. Was it the best performance of the year from Placette and Richard? Of course not. But still: They hit only 11 errors, just three more than Switzerland. Their three missed serves were same as the Swiss.

The Swiss simply operated on another plane.

They weren’t the only ones, either.

Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre, who emerged from Wednesday’s qualifier to make the main draw, upset fifth-seeded Italians Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi, 21-19, 25-23, capping off an undefeated day for the Swiss.

Only one other federation can claim such a feat, although it’s not an altogether surprising one: Brazil finished the day 4-0, with just a single set dropped. Ana Patricia Ramos and Eduarda 'Duda' Lisboa began the day with a victory over Latvians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova (formerly Kravcenoka), 21-11, 14-21, 15-11 and concluded it with a sweep over a new pairing in Germany’s Karla Borger and Sandra Ittlinger, 21-19, 21-18. Barbara Seixas and Carol Salgado, the current world No. 1, swept both Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands, 21-16, 21-18, and Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon of the United States, 21-10, 21-18.

Pool B, where Sponcil and Cannon went 0-2, and good friends Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft finished 1-1, was unkind to the Americans on Thursday, although some positives could be found in Pool C. There, Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth, and Kelly Cheng and Betsi Flint, won both of their matches, both of which went to three. Nuss and Kloth upset third-seeded Canadians Sophie Bukovec and Brandie Wilkerson, 21-17, 13-21, 15-13, while Cheng and Flint fended off Finnish qualifiers Niina Ahtiainen and Taru Lahti, 16-21, 21-9, 15-6. The Americans will play one another in the final round of pool, which will serve as a rematch of the AVP Phoenix Gold Series Championships, where Nuss and Kloth won, collecting their fifth tournament of the 2022 season.

· Watch the main draw at the Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Paris live on Volleyball TV.