2015-06-03 21:53:00 CET
The second day of play here in Poreč saw big names as well as a big breakthrough.
A long holiday weekend is coming up in many European countries, and beach volleyball fans as well as curious tourists have already begun flocking to the stadium in the heart of town, where the massive Center Court as well as side courts were bustling with action (5,600 people at the location's Trade Village and Center Court alone). Fifty-six matches for both women and men were contended on Wednesday in the quest toward earning Olympic qualifying points by the time the tournament concludes on Sunday.
One of the must-see matches of the day was a battle featuring Jen Kessy and Emily Day of the USA, who needed three hard-fought sets to defeat Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan of Canada, a team that earned a silver medal two weeks ago at the FIVB World Tour stop in Prague, Czech Republic. The Americans went on to best Tea Juric and Dalida Vernier of the host country Croatia, setting up a clash of the Pool A unbeaten on Thursday against Kessy’s longtime rival, the Brazilian Larissa Franca, and her partner Talita Antunes.
Thursday’s meeting will be the twenty-fifth time that Kessy and Larissa have faced each other in FIVB-sanctioned events, and while Larissa has a 19-5 edge in head-to-heads between the two players, Kessy has claimed victory in the prestigious FIVB World Championships and Olympic Games. Kessy, who is returning to the international tour nine months after giving birth to her first child, said, “Larissa and Talita are the best team in the world, while Emily and I are playing in only our second event. They have the obvious advantage, but we’ll fight hard to win.”
Meanwhile, in men's play Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe from Turkey logged a career milestone by winning matches against teams from The Netherlands and Germany to advance from an international Qualifier to a Main Draw for the first time. (The team had played in FIVB Main Draws before, but had never been successful when they had to go through an international Qualification Tournament.) Men’s teams from Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Norway, the United States and Venezuela also advanced.
Thursday’s 40-match slate will feature the women’s continuing matches to earn a spot in the Round of 16, while the men’s Main Draw face-offs will begin with Pool play.