Challenge - Edmonton, CAN - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News

Bansley/Bukovec (CAN) vs. Ahtiainen/Lahti (FIN) - Round 2 #5935403

Bukovec works at the net against Athiainen and Lathi

Heather Bansley and Sophie Bukovec had a promising first day as partners on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour as the Canadians were among the teams that advanced from the qualifier of the Challenge tournament held in their home sand Edmonton on Thursday.

After the conclusion of 45 matches at the Fan Park, eight teams in each gender secured the final spots in the 24-team men’s and women’s main draws, which begin on Friday and go until Sunday in Canada.

  • Watch the Beach Pro Tour Edmonton Challenge live on VBTV

Bansley, a two-time Olympian, and Bukovec, a 2022 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship silver medalist, joined forces just a few weeks ago and had in the Edmonton Challenge qualifier their first test as partners. The tournament also marks the return to the courts of the 35-year-old Bansley, who retired after the Tokyo Olympics, in 2021.

The Canadians responded well to the challenge, securing a pair of wins to claim one of the eight spots in play. The new duo had a comfortable two-set (21-11, 21-16) victory over Puerto Ricans Allanis Navas and Maria Gonzalez in the morning and followed it up with a second-round, 2-1 (21-15, 15-21, 15-9) win over Finland’s Taru Lahti and Niina Ahtiainen in the afternoon to advance.

World champion Sarah Pavan, who played with Bansley from 2013 to 2016 and partnered with Bukovec in the first events of the 2023 Beach Pro Tour season, and new partner Molly McBain also advanced, giving hosts Canada two additional teams in the women’s main draw.

The two, who had also surpassed the qualifier at last week’s Espinho Challenge, in Portugal, started the day in Edmonton with a two-set (21-11, 21-12) victory over Mexicans Atenas Gutierrez and Abril Flores. Their good form continued in the afternoon, when the Canadians topped Germans Julia Sude and Isabel Schneider also in straight sets (21-18, 21-12) to move forward.

Gutierrez/Flores (MEX) vs. Pavan/McBain (CAN) - Round 1 #5928800

McBain and Pavan defeated teams from Mexico and Germany in the qualifier

The other six women’s teams to succeed in the Edmonton qualifier were Austria’s Dorina Klinger/Ronja Klinger, Brazil’s Talita Antunes/Thamela Coradello, Czechia’s Barbora Hermannová/Marie-Sara Štochlová, Germany’s Laura Ludwig/Louisa Lippmann, Spain’s Liliana Fernández/Paula Soria and USA’s Kelley Kolinske/Hailey Harward.

**Beach Pro Tour Edmonton Challenge – Match Schedule and Results**

In the men's event, teams from eight different countries claimed the spots in the main draw. Among them were Swiss Adrian Heidrich, a Tokyo Olympian, and Leo Dillier, who defeated Americans Tim Brewster and Kyle Friend in straight sets (21-15, 21-16) in the first round and topped Thailand's Poravid Taovato and Pithak Tipjan also in two sets (21-14, 21-16) later in the day.

Heidrich/Dillier (SUI) vs. T.Pithak/T. Poravid (THA) - Round 2 #5935560

Heidrich and Dillier smile after a point won against the Thailand duo

The other seven spots went to Australia's Chris McHugh/Paul Burnett, Austria's Martin Ermacora/Philipp Waller, France's Calvin Aye/Quincy Aye, Germany's Sven Winter/Lukas Pfretzschner, Poland's Piotr Kantor/Jakub Dzybek, Portugal's João Pedrosa/Hugo Campos and USA's Taylor Crabb/Taylor Sander.

The main draw will begin on Friday, with 24 pool plays matches set to take place in each gender. Saturday’s calendar in Edmonton will feature three elimination rounds – Round of 18, Round of 16 and quarterfinals -, with the semifinal and medal matches ending the events on Sunday.

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