Leading the way was the United States with four of its five teams in the women’s Gstaad Major Main Draw winning their opening group matches followed by Brazil with three successes, and Canada, Germany and host Switzerland with two each.
Pairs from Australia, including last week’s gold medal team in Portugal Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy (Pool D), the Czech Republic and Russia also were victorious in pool play Tuesday with the group winners being decided Thursday along with the third-place finishes.
Wednesday’s action featured three seed-break-throughs with United States tandems involved in each match with the North Americans winning twice led by 26th-seeded qualifiers Kelly Larsen/Emily Stockman, who arrived in Gstaad early Monday morning after a cab ride from the Geneva Airport.
After winning two country quota matches on Monday 10 hours after they arrived in Gstaad followed by a qualifying win over an Italian pair Tuesday, Larsen and Stockman posted a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) Pool G win in 36 minutes over seventh-seeded and 2017 Gstaad Major winners Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude of Germany.
Three-time Olympic and world champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and her American partner Nicole Branagh posted the second upset win as the 21st-seeded pair scored a 2-0 (24-22, 21-19) Pool E victory in 42 minutes over 12th-seeded Karla Borger/Maggie Kozuch of Germany.
With ninth-seeded Alix Klineman/April Ross (Pool H) and 10th-seeded Sara Hughes/Summer Ross (Pool G) also posting USA wins on Wednesday, 19th-seeded Svetlana Kholomina and Nadezda Makroguzova of Russia out-lasted 19th-seeded Americans Emily Day/Lauren Fendrick 2-1 (23-25, 21-19, 15-12) in a 52-minute Pool C match.
Brazilian pairs winning matches on Wednesday were third-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa (Pool C), sixth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Carolina Salgado (Pool F) and 13th-seeded Carolina Horta/Taiana Lima (Pool D).
Carolina Horta (right) and Taiana Lima of Brazil
With Canada having the top two ranked pairs in the Gstaad Major, top-seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan (Pool A) and second-seeded Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson (Pool B) were successful Wednesday.
Diving for Mikasa is Heather Bansley of Canada
Despite two German losses Wednesday, the European country has two winning teams in 11th-seeded Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider (Pool F) and 16th-seeded qualifiers Kim Behrens/Sandra Ittlinger (Pool A). Host Switzerland won two of three women’s matches led by eighth-seeded Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre (Pool H) and 15th-seeded Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli (Pool B).
Fifth-seeded Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova, who captured a FIVB World Tour title three weeks ago on home sand in Ostrava, Czech Republic (Pool E) completed the list of group winners on Wednesday in the women’s competition at the $600,000 Gstaad Open.
Slovakia's Natalia Dubovcova (left) hits against the Czech Republic's Barbora Hermannova
The women complete Gstaad pool play on Thursday to set the schedule for Friday’s two rounds of elimination. While the men play their semifinal and medal matches Saturday, the women’s schedule features the quarterfinal matches to set the field for Sunday’s final four rounds. The winning teams per gender will share the $40,000 first-place prizes.