2015-06-05 20:30:00 CET
Two underdog women's teams from Canada and another from Australia earned an unlikely advance to the Semi Finals in day four of the Swatch Beach Volleyball Major Series on Friday, while men's Pool Play saw Austrians launch an upset and – in Elimination – first and second seeded contenders from Brazil go head to head.
In one of Friday's highlights, Center Court in Poreč was packed with cheering Austrian fans as their homecountry heroes, 15th seeded Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst, clinched their pool win and advanced to Saturday's play by upsetting the world's number two seeds, Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego from Brazil. The Brazilian legends have recently reunited in an effort to repeat their Gold Medal-winning experience in the 2004 Olympic Games.
Things got even more interesting for Ricardo and Emanuel later on Friday, when they went up against the number one seeds, Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, in an all-Brazil elimination match. Determined to turn around their tournament and continue on the road to Rio, the number twos stunned the top seeds by eliminating them in two sets and just 37 minutes, 21-16 and 21-13. Another of Friday's most hotly contended contests came at the very of the day of the day, when Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira of Spain vied against Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Salgado of Brazil. For the Brazilians, it was a a rematch after losing the gold medal match at the Moscow Grand Slam to the Spaniards just last week – and they got their vindication, ousting the Spanish team in two sets, 21-19, 24-22. With only 24 hours to go until the medal matches, passions were high as eight women's teams engaged in Quarter Final action on Friday afternoon. Contests between arch-rivals the United States and Brazil are always heated, and the number 20 seed Americans Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat Youngquist stunned the top-ranked women's team in the world, Larissa Franca and Talita De Rocha Antunes of Brazil, by winning the opening Quarter Final set in Center Court before the Brazilians powered back to claim the final two sets and advance. But the real shocker came from the two other teams of North Americans: The 18th-seed Canadian tandem of Kristina Valjas and Jamie Broder needed only two sets of Quarter Final play to knock out the powerful number three seed, Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas of Brazil, while another duo of Canadian upstarts, 17th-seeded Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan, went three sets and 65 minutes in the Istrian heat to end the tournament hopes of the ninth-seed Italian pair Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth. One more women's longshot story played out with the surging Australians Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy, 22 seeds who battled 11th-seeded Karla Borger and Britta Büthe of Germany to capture a Quarter Final win. Borger and Büthe had dominated an earlier match against the number two seed from their own country, Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler, but they never found their momentum in the Quarter Finals, where the Australians won handily in two sets, 21-16 and 21-17. Tomorrow's play will be the first time that Clancy has ever appeared in an FIVB World Tour final four.
With the women's Quarter Finals in the history books, the matchups are set for Saturday's all-important Semi Finals ahead of medal round matches. The Brazilians Larissa and Talita will play the Canadian duo of Broder and Valjas, while the Australians Bawden and Clancy will go up against Canada's Bansley and Pavan. Meanwhile, the men will launch into the Round of 16 followed by Quarter Finals.