Gstaad, Switzerland, July 12, 2018 - After winning their fourth FIVB World Tour gold medal this season last week in Espinho, Australians Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy are looking to validate their Portuguese success with another beach volleyball title this weekend in Gstaad in the Swiss Alps.
Seeded fourth in the $600,000 Gstaad Major, Artacho and Clancy won their eighth-straight FIVB World Tour match here Thursday with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) Pool D win in 31 minutes over 13th-seeded Carolina Horta/Taiana Lima of Brazil to advance to Friday afternoon’s second round of elimination.
With six-straight wins last week in Espinho highlighted by a 2-0 (23-21, 21-17) gold medal win in 37 minutes over Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado of Brazil, Artacho and Clancy started their Gstaad title quest Wednesday with a 2-0 (21-11, 21-13) victory in 28 minutes over 29th-seeded qualifiers Azusa Futami/Akiko Hasegawa of Japan.
Artacho and Clancy’s next opponent will be determined after Thursday’s final group matches featuring two teams from host Switzerland playing pairs from North America to determine the Pool B and Pool H winners.
Playing their first full-season together, Artacho and Clancy have a 33-7 match record and are currently tied for sixth on the FIVB World Tour rankings based on a team’s best eight (8) results at FIVB recognized events over the last 365 days. On the 2017-2018 World Tour points list, the Australians rank second behind Antonelli and Carolina.
Although Sydney 2000 Olympic champions Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst are considered Australia’s best beach volleyball team ever, Artacho and Clancy have already doubled the legendary pair’s gold medal wins on the FIVB World Tour with other wins this season in Australia (Sydney), Turkey (Mersin) and Switzerland (Lucerne).
Australian golden girls Natalie Cook (left) and Kerri Pottharst after winning the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
In addition to the Aussie’s group title, other pool winners Thursday were top-seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan of Canada (Pool A), third-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa of Brazil (Pool C), fifth-seeded Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic (Pool E), Victoria Bieneck/Isabel Schneider of Germany (Pool F) and 26th-seeded qualifiers 26) Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman of the United States (Pool G).
Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada reaching for Mikasa
In the final two women's matches Thursday on center court, North American pairs of second-seeded Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson of Canada (Pool B) and ninth-seeded Alix Klineman/April Ross of the United States (Pool H) over Switzerland's top two teams.
Bansley and Wilkerson outlasted 15th-seeded Nina Betschart/Tanja Huberli 2-1 (24-26, 27-25, 15-13) in 63 minutes while Klineman and Ross posted a 2-0 (21-18, 22-20) victory in 39 minutes over eighth-seeded Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre. Both the Canadians and Americans have collected FIVB World Tour gold medals this season in Warsaw and The Hague, respectively.
The women’s Gstaad Major features pool two rounds of elimination bracket play Friday, quarterfinal matches Saturday and the final four rounds Sunday. The men schedule has two elimination rounds Friday with the semi-finals and medal matches Saturday. The winning teams per gender will share the $40,000 first-place prizes.