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Xue/X. Y. Xia (CHN) vs. Ludwig/Lippmann (GER) - Pool D #11947270

Laura Ludwig in flying action at court 2 in Doha

Former world and Olympic champion Laura Ludwig and her current partner Louisa Lippmann registered an important upset in their last game of the women’s pool stage at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Doha Elite16 event to catch the last trains to the knockout stage. Ludwig & Lippmann are the only German team in the main draw and hope to gain ground in their quest to catch up with the two fellow German pairs that are above them in the women’s provisional Olympic ranking, towards Paris 2024 qualification.

With the pool stage now over, the four pool winners per gender – Brazil’s Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) & Ana Patricia Ramos and Barbara Seixas & Carol Solberg, USA’s Sara Hughes & Kelly Cheng and Latvia’s Anastasija Samoilova & Tina Graudina in the women’s tournament, and Sweden’s David Ahman & Jonatan Hellvig, Czechia’s Ondrej Perusic & David Schweiner, Netherlands’ Stefan Boermans & Yorick de Groot and Italy’s Paolo Nicolai & Samuele Cottafava in the men’s competition - advanced straight to Friday afternoon’s quarterfinals, awaiting their opponents to emerge from the four eighthfinal games per gender earlier in the day. Ludwig & Lippmann are one of the teams that will compete in that first playoff round.

· Watch the Doha Elite16 main draw live on VBTV.

Melissa/Brandie (CAN) vs. Tina/Anastasija (LAT) - Pool D #11945670

Tina spikes past Brandie in a hotly contested three-setter

The 12th-seeded German pair started their Pool D campaign with two straight-set losses, to fourth-seeded Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes & Brandie Wilkerson and Latvian standouts Samoilova & Graudina, who advanced to the main draw from Tuesday’s qualifiers and went on to win all three of their games in the pool. In the deciding match for the third place on Thursday, Ludwig & Lippmann produced a upset of fifth-seeded Xue Chen & Xia Xinyi and sent the Chinese pair home winless. On Friday morning, the Germans will have a tough eighthfinal task against sixth-seeded Katja Stam & Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands, runners-up in Pool C.

In Pool C, reigning world champions Hughes & Cheng, seeded third in Doha, emerged on top with three wins, followed by Stam & Schoon in second on a 2-1 win-loss record. In an exciting all-Brazilian clash, in which the third place in the pool was practically decided, qualifiers Agatha Bednarczuk & Rebecca Cavalcanti came back from a set down to celebrate a victory over Taina Bigi & Victoria Lopes and advanced to the eighthfinals in their effort to catch up not only with Taina & Victoria, but potentially with the second-ranked Brazilian pair Barbara & Carol, in their difficult push for a ticket to Paris. Melissa & Brandie will be Agatha & Rebecca’s next opponent in Friday morning centre court opener at 09:00 local time (06:00 UTC).

Seventh-seeded Barbara & Carol had a difficult start in Pool B, losing to Swiss qualifiers Esmee Bobner & Zoe Verge-Depre in straight sets, but got on the winning track with shutouts of second-seeded Americans Taryn Kloth & Kristen Nuss and Italy’s Marta Menegatti & Valentina Gottardi to finish on top of the pool, ahead of Menegatti & Gottardi. In the last match of the pool, Nuss & Kloth were on the verge of elimination when they lost the first set to Esmee & Zoe, but mounted a furious comeback towards a victory, which granted them the third place in the pool and caused a disappointing early exit for their opponents, who are in a tight race with another two Swiss duos for two tickets to Paris. One of these two pairs, Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli, will be Nuss & Kloths next opponent in the first knockout round.

With Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy & Mariafe Artacho Del Solar of Australia withdrawn from the tournament because of a Clancy injury, Pool A offered a three-way race, in which the world’s number one team Duda & Ana Patricia lived up to the expectations and topped the pool standings after winning both of their matches. In the most intriguing match of the pool, directly relevant to the race for the Swiss Olympic quota, Brunner & Huberli managed a win over compatriots Joana Mader & Anouk Verge-Depre to finish pool runners-up, while both teams advanced to the eighthfinals. Mader & Verge-Depre will have to face Menegatti & Gottardi for a spot in the quarterfinals.

An all-Dutch duel highlighted the scuffle in the men’s Pool B, with 10th-seeded Alexander Brouwer & Robert Meeuwsen claiming a victory over qualifiers Steven van de Velde & Matthew Immers. However, the latter won both of their other two games in the pool, against Brazilian standouts Andre Stein & George Wanderley and reigning world champions Perusic & Schweiner, while Brouwer & Meeuwsen lost to both the Czechs and the Brazilians. Eventually, both Dutch teams advanced to the eighthfinals as second and third in the pool, leaving Andre & George out of contention in fourth place.

Brouwer/Meeuwsen (NED) vs. van de Velde/Immers (NED) - Pool B #11933313

Brouwer against Van de Velde over the net

Another Dutch pair, sixth-seeded Boermans & De Groot, who have a lot of catching up to do in the three-way race for the country’s two Olympic berths, made sure they are well on track to do just that as they topped the Pool C standings undefeated in three matches. They even outpaced the world’s number one team and reigning Olympic champions Anders Mol & Christian Sorum of Norway in a three-setter, where Boermans raised nine kill blocks against Mol’s seven. The third-seeded Norwegians finished runners-up and advanced to the first knockout round along with third-placed Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner of the United States, while Australian qualifiers Thomas Hodges & Zachery Schubert were eliminated.

Now Crabb & Brunner will get a chance to edge forward in the American race for Olympic tickets, away from compatriots Chase Budinger & Miles Evans, who are right behind them in the men’s provisional Olympic ranking, but failed to advance to the knockouts from Pool D, where fourth-seeded Nicolai & Samuele topped the table with three wins to jump to the quarterfinals, while host Qatari pair Cherif Younousse & Ahmed Tijan and Poland’s Michal Bryl & Bartosz Losiak finished second and third, respectively.

There were no upsets in Pool A and the four teams lined up in the final standings according to their seeding. Top-seeded Ahman & Hellvig, the number two team in the FIVB World Ranking, won all three of their matches. Eighth-seeded Germans Clemens Wickler & Nils Ehlers edged ninth-seeded Brazilians Evandro Oliveira & Arthur Mariano for the second place with a shutout in the head-to-head encounter, while bottom-seeded Italian qualifiers Daniele Lupo & Enrico Rossi finished bottom of the pool without a win and stopped short of advancing beyond the pool stage.

In the men’s eighthfinals, Van de Velde & Immers will take on Crabb & Brunner, Brouwer & Meeuwsen will meet Ehlers & Wickler, Cherif & Ahmed will face Evandro & Arthur, and Bryl & Losiak will challenge Mol & Sorum.