Beach Pro Tour - News


World champion Sarah Pavan and partner Molly McBain will try to score points to help their Olympic campaign in Portugal

After a pair of relatively quiet weeks dedicated to continental events, the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour resumes its 2024 season this week with another critical tournament in qualification process for the Paris Olympics, the Espinho Elite16, from May 22-26.

The deep sand of the Portuguese coastal city, which hosted Challenge tournaments in the last two seasons, will be the stage of another chapter of the intense battle for a ticket to the French capital and, with just three major tournaments left, points earned in Espinho can take teams a long way.

  • Watch the Beach Pro Tour Espinho Elite16 live on VBTV

With the vast majority of the qualification period already covered, several teams are already in a solid position to celebrate their presence in this summer’s event at the feet of the Eiffel Tower, but for some of them, all of which will be in action this week, the race for FIVB Olympic Ranking points continues in Portugal.

Women’s teams on the hunt for the last berths

With the top 17 teams in each gender in the Olympic Rankings set to qualify for Paris 2024 at the June 9 deadline, competition for the bottom spots inside the qualification zone will heat up even more in the tournaments scheduled for the next few weeks.

On the women’s side, teams under 7,000 points seem to still be at risk of not qualifying. Three of them that occupy the last spots inside the qualification zone will start the Espinho Elite16 in the qualifier and will have a major opportunity to improve their totals and get closer to Paris – France’s Alexia Richard/Lézana Placette (6,920), Lithuania’s Monika Paulikiene/Aine Raupelyte (6,900) and Canada’s Sarah Pavan/Molly McBain (6,540).

Espinho Elite16 – Women’s Entry List

Some teams slightly below the cut-off line will also play in Portugal and will be aiming for strong results to improve their positions ahead of the final events of the qualification period. Among them are Spain’s Liliana Fernández/Paula Soria (6,480), Finland’s Taru Lahti-Liukkonen/Niina Ahtiainen (6,420), Thailand’s Taravadee Naraphornrapat/Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee (6,260) and Austria’s Ronja Klinger/Dorina Klinger (6,220).

The Espinho Elite16 will also play a critical role in the internal battle between teams from the same country. That’s the case with Switzerland and Germany, where Nina Brunner/Tanja Hüberli (9,220) and Svenja Müller/Cinja Tillmann (8,260) respectively are in a strong position to claim their Olympic spots, leaving just one berth available for two other duos from their country.

With Switzerland, the duel involves Esmée Böbner/Zoé Vergé-Dépré (7,900) and Joana Mäder/Anouk Vergé-Dépré (7,440), who will both start the tournament in the qualifier, potentially even matching up in the second round. The German race has Laura Ludwig/Louisa Lippmann (7,580) and Karla Borger/Sandra Ittlinger (7,360), who will also need to secure their spots in the main draw in the qualifier.

Austrians and Australians try to make the most of Cuban absence

On the men’s side, Cubans Jorge Alayo and Noslen Diaz, who won three medals in six Beach Pro Tour events this season, are the main threat to teams inside the qualification zone, appearing with 7,040 points.

Espinho Elite16 – Men’s Entry List

The two, however, will not play this week in Espinho, giving their main competitors above the cut-off line a valuable opportunity to get some separation, most notably Australians Thomas Hodges and Zachary Schubert (7,520) and Austrians Julian Hörl and Alexander Horst (7,260). Chileans Marco and Esteban Grimalt are also in a qualifying position with the same 7,260 points as the Europeans, but are way down in the reserve list and won’t likely have a chance to play this week.

The exciting battle between three Dutch teams for two Olympic spots will also continue this week in Espinho. Two of the team, Stefan Boermans/Yorick De Groot (8,000) and Steven van de Velde/Matthew Immers (8,380), will start in the main draw, while the highest-ranked duo of Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (8,600) will need to succeed in the qualifier. Boermans and de Groot have just ten out of 12 results accounted for and have a decent chance of taking the lead in the country’s internal race this week.

Americans will also be following as the competition to determine which team will represent the country in Paris alongside Andy Benesh/Miles Partain (8,980) in Paris heats up. Chase Budinger and Miles Evans (8,100) are in control after their recent victory at the NORCECA Championship, but Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner (7,860) are not far behind. Both teams will play in the Espinho qualifier and could even face each other for a spot in the main draw.

Espinho Elite16 – Match Schedule

The Espinho Elite16 begins on Wednesday, with the qualifier featuring 16 teams per gender – only four will advance. Pool play will develop from Thursday to Friday, with the Round of 12 and the quarterfinals taking place on Saturday. The semifinals and the medal matches are scheduled for Sunday.

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