Canadians draw tough Brazilian foes for FIVB beach volleyball world championships

ROME – The pool draws for the FIVB beach volleyball world championships were announced today for the event set to run in Rome from June 13-19 and all three Canadian entries have tough Brazilian teams in their respective pools.

The Canadian teams for the worlds are for the women:  Heather Bansley and Liz Maloney, both of Toronto, as well as Annie Martin of Sherbrooke, Que., and Marie-Andrée Lessard of Ville LaSalle, Que. On the men’s side, Christian Redmann of Toronto and Ben Saxton of Calgary compete for Canada.

For both the men and women, there are 48 teams split into 12 pools of four with the top two teams from each group plus the eight best third-place finishers moving onto the knockout phase. Pool play matches for each gender will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (June 13 to 15) followed by the 32-team elimination rounds on Thursday and Friday (June 16 to 17). The semifinals will be held on Saturday evening, June 18 with the medal matches set for Sunday evening, June 19.

The world championship result can be counted towards one of the12 top results contributing to the FIVB Olympic Ranking. In fact it is the event with the highest allocation of FIVB World Ranking points during the Olympic Qualification Phase.

Canada’s top-ranked team of Martin and Lessard are in pool J with Taiana Lima and Vivian Danielle da Conceicao Cunha of Brazil, with two top-10 results on the World Tour this year, Rieke Brink-Abeler and Angelina Grun of Germany and their compatriots Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler.

Martin and Lessard launched their 2011 season last month and placed a solid 13th at the FIVB World Tour stop in Myslowice, Poland. They were 17th at the 2009 worlds in Norway and Martin is making her fifth consecutive appearance at the worlds.

Bansley and Maloney are in Pool K with veterans Maria Clara Salgado Rufino and Carolina Solberg Salgado of Brazil who were ninth at the 2009 worlds and are coming off a fifth place finish at the last World Tour stop in Poland.  Also in the pool are first –year partners Alice Rohkamper and Tamsin Hinchley of Australia as well Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova of Russia

Bansley and Maloney, won gold and bronze at stops on the NORCECA (North and Central America and Caribbean) circuit, this spring and have also competed at three stops on the World Tour. It is the first worlds for both players.

On the men’s side, Redmann and Sexton are in pool C with Marcio Henrique Barroso Araujo and Ricardo Alex Costa Santos of Brazil who have posted top-five finishes in their last seven World Tour events. Ricardo is an Olympic champion and Marcio a former world champion. Also in the pool are Emiel Boersma and Daan Spijkers of the Netherlands and Philip Gabathuler and Jan Schnider of Switzerland.

Volleyball Canada’s National Team Head Coach Lennard Krapp and Assistant Coach Jason Hubbard will support the three Canadian teams on site.

Prior to the worlds all three Canadian teams will compete at the World Tour Grand Slam event in Beijing which starts Tuesday.