First round victory keeps Bansley and Maloney in contention on World Tour

 BRASILIA – Olympic hopefuls Heather Bansley and Liz Maloney of Toronto launched their 2012 season in impressive fashion on Tuesday as they won their opening match at the first stop on the FIVB beach volleyball World Tour circuit.

Bansley and Maloney, chasing for an Olympic spot on the circuit, defeated Karla Borger and Britta Buthe of Germany 21-19, 21-19 in the first round. The German pair had denied Marie-Andrée Lessard of Ville LaSalle, Que., and Annie Martin of Sherbrooke, Que., a berth in the main draw in Monday’s qualifying.

‘’We played really consistently in that first match,’’ said Maloney in her third season with Bansley.  ‘’It’s what we needed to do to get this tournament off to a great start.’’

In the second round, Bansley and Maloney faced Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the U.S.  The Americans, the reigning Olympic champions and the top-seeds here, took the match 22-20, 21-13.

‘’They play the same way we do, so it was anybody’s match,’’ said Maloney.  ‘’We were very aggressive and confident.  We certainly made them earn their victory but we were hoping to fare better.’’

The Canadians however are still alive in this double elimination tournament and go through a repechage-style bracket on Wednesday in which they could play as many as three matches.

Last season Bansley and Maloney made their first major impact on the international stage with four top-10 finishes on the World Tour circuit and 17th place at the world championships in Rome

This year they would like to qualify for the Olympic Games directly by cracking the top-16 in the FIVB Olympic rankings at the end of June.  They are currently 21st.

‘’We’ve had a very good off-season of training and recently had an excellent camp in Los Angeles,’’ Maloney said.  ‘’Last year’s success was a big boost.  First we gained a lot of confidence and it also allowed us to get into the main draw directly at international tournaments and not have to go through qualifying.’’

In qualifying, teams may have to win up to three matches to advance to the main draw.

The men’s qualification is slated for Wednesday.  Canada has five entries: Josh Binstock of Toronto and Martin Reader of Comox, B.C.; Maverick Hatch of Comox and Sam Schachter of Toronto; Ben Saxton of Calgary and Christian Redmann of Toronto; Richard Van Huizen and Garrett May, both of  Toronto ; and Matt Zbyszewski of Toronto and Chaim Schalk of Red Deer, Alta.

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More information: www.fivb.org