2017-08-21 16:05:00 CEST
Our guide to the 12 teams battling it out for glory in Germany
Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca, Brazil
Two of the most successful players in the history of women’s beach volleyball, Talita and Larissa will be competing in their third Swatch FIVB World Finals (9-2 match mark) after winning the gold medal in 2015 (6-0) and placing fourth in 2016 (3-2). Qualifying for Hamburg as the top-ranked team on the 2017 FIVB World Tour points list, Talita and Larissa won bronze this month at the 2017 FIVB World Championships in Vienna. With both players making their FIVB World Tour debuts in 2002, Larissa ranks first all-time in gold medals (62), podium placements (104), final four finishes (111) and match wins (795) in 150 events to date. Talita ranks among the top 10 in gold medals (34), podium placements (67) and final four finishes (67) in 164 events. Talita is first in FIVB World Tour matches played at 969 followed by Larissa at 940). Talita and Larissa formed their partnership in July 2014 and finished as the top team on the FIVB World Tour in 2015. Both are three-time Olympians with Larissa a bronze medal winner at the London 2012 Summer Games with Juliana.
Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa, Brazil
A new pairing on the international circuit this season with medal placements in their first four FIVB World Tour events in 2017, Agatha and Duda netted a spot in Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals via their international ranking. Agatha is playing in her third Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals with a 2015 bronze medal finish with Barbara Seixas in Fort Lauderdale. Duda, who celebrated her 19th birthday in Vienna where she and Agatha placed 17th, will be participating in her first Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals. Duda has won five FIVB youth world titles along with the gold medal at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China with Ana Patricia Silva. Duda played in her first FIVB World Tour event in 2013 as a 15-year old and placed fifth at a South African stop with Thais Rodrigues Ferreira. Duda has amassed three gold medals, nine podium placements and 10 final four finishes in her first 23 world tour events. Agatha, who started playing internationally in 2005 with the legendary Sandra Pires, has played in 104 FIVB World Tour events highlighted by a silver medal finish at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Barbara. Agatha has won five FIVB gold medals with 23 world tour podium placements and 25 final four finishes.
Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan, Canada
The Canadians will be playing in their second Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals after qualifying for Hamburg via their international rankings. Humana-Paredes and Pavan lost in a country quota playoff at the 2016 event in Toronto. The Canadians are playing their first full season on the FIVB World Tour and placed fourth at the world championships earlier this month in Vienna. The new partnership has produced a first, two seconds, a third, two fourths and ninth in their seven FIVB World Tour events in 2017. Despite being the younger of the two, Humana-Paredes started competing in FIVB events in 2009 and captured a silver medal at the 2011 under-21 world championships with Victoria Altomare. Humana-Paredes has played in 37 FIVB World tour events with all her podium placements being with Pavan. Pavan began competing on the FIVB World Tour in 2013 and placed fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Heather Bansley. Pavan has competed in 46 FIVB events with 10 podium placements and 13 final four finishes.
Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson, Canada
The 2017 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals will be the second for Bansley and Wilkerson, who placed ninth in Toronto by winning two of four matches together. Bansley and Wilkerson, who earned a wildcard for Hamburg, are completing their first full season together as the pair finished fifth earlier this month at the FIVB World Championships in Vienna to match their previous best placement on the world tour. A fifth-place finisher at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Sarah Pavan, Bansley started participating in FIVB-sanctioned events in 2007 and became a regular on the FIVB World Tour in 2011. She has competed in 76 FIVB World Tour events with six podium placements, including three seconds with Pavan. Wilkerson first appeared in international competition in 2013 on the NORCECA tour and played in her first FIVB World Tour event in 2014. With her best FIVB finishes being fifths with Bansley, Wilkerson’s NORCECA career was highlighted by a 2016 gold medal with Julie Gordon in Mexico. She has competed in 22 FIVB World Tour events.
Barbora Hermannová/Marketa Slukova, Czech Republic
With the Czech Republic represented in the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals for the first-time, Hermannová and Slukova qualified for Hamburg via their international ranking. The pair placed ninth earlier this month at the FIVB World Championships earlier this month in Vienna. Hermannová and Slukova began their partnership in August 2015 and qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games via the FIVB Continental Cup in Sochi, Russia. Slukova and Hermannová have won a World Tour gold medal (Turkey 2015) and finished second in the 2016 European championships. The pair also posted a second (Poreč Major) and third (Rio de Janeiro) this season. Hermannová played in her first FIVB events in 2008 and has competed in 75 world tour stops with two gold medals starting with a 2014 first with Martina Bonnerova in Mangaung, South Africa. Slukova, who placed fifth at the London 2012 Olympics with Kristyna Kolocova, has competed in 86 world tour events since 2009. She and Kolocova teamed for gold medal finishes in 2014 at Prague and Berlin.
Kristyna Kolocova/Michala Kvapilova, Czech Republic
Qualifying for the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals via their international rankings, Kolocova and Kvapilova placed ninth earlier this month at the FIVB World Championships in Vienna. After a split in 2015 with Marketa Slukova, Kolocova started playing with Kvapilova in 2016 as the pair has posted three fifths for their best finishes together. Kolocova, who placed fifth at the London 2012 Olympics with Slukova, has competed in 76 world tour events since 2009. She and Slukova won gold medals together in 2014 at Prague and Berlin. Kvapilova played in her first world tour event in 2010 and started playing full-time with Kolocova in 2016. Her best FIVB placements have been fifths this season with Kolocova in Fort Lauderdale, Poreč and Olsztyn. The pair also had a fourth this season at the European tour’s stop in Baden, Austria. Kolocova and Kvapilova participated in the 2016 FIVB Continental Cup in Sochi, Russia. by defeating China for the final Copacabana in Sochi, Russia.
Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst, Germany
The Germans will be seeking their second-straight Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals title after winning the 2016 event in Toronto. Ludwig and Walkenhorst earned a wildcard for Hamburg as the pair competed in only four FIVB World Tour events together this season highlighted by a gold medal finish at the FIVB World Championships earlier this month in Vienna. With Ludwig having off-season right shoulder surgery and Walkenhorst slowed with various ailments, the Germans started the 2017 campaign with a fifth and two ninths. The Vienna win completed the triple crown of Beach Volleyball for Ludwig and Walkenhorst as the Germans also captured the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The Germans’ 2016 season was the best-ever performance by an European pair on the FIVB World Tour as Ludwig and Walkenhorst won 69 of 79 contests highlighted by winning streaks of 18-, 13-, 11- and 10-straight match victories. A three-time Olympian, Ludwig started playing on the world tour in 2006 and has participated in 136 events with 10 gold medals, 30 podium placements and 36 final four finishes. Walkenhorst began her world tour career in 2012 with 10 gold medals, 17 medals and 20 final fours.
Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude, Germany
Qualifying for the 2017 Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals via their international ranking, Laboureur and Sude will be participating in the event for the third-time (3-4 match mark) after placing ninth in 2015 (1-3) and fifth in 2016 (2-1). The Germans placed fifth at the FIVB World Championships earlier this month in Vienna. Despite missing the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Laboureur and Sude finished the 2016 season as the No. 3-ranked team on the FIVB World Tour behind Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst and April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States. Laboureur and Sude’s first gold medal finish at the 2016 Poreč Major was unique as the Germans had to win a qualifying match to advance to the Main Draw. Laboureur and Sude, who have also won five European tour events, netted their second world tour title this season at the Gstaad Major in Switzerland. Laboureur has played in 68 FIVB World Tour events since 2010 with two gold medals, seven podium placements and nine final four finishes. Sude’s world tour debut was in 2007 as she has played in 101 FIVB events with two gold medals, eight podiums and 10 final fours.
Joana Heidrich/Anouk Vergé-Dépré, Switzerland
Both players will be competing in their second Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals after playing with different partners in 2016 at Toronto. Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr were second after losing the final to Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany. Vergé-Dépré was fifth with Isabelle Forrer. Qualifying for Hamburg via their international ranking, Heidrich and Vergé-Dépré placed ninth at the FIVB World Championships earlier this month in Vienna. A new team on the 2017 FIVB World Tour, Heidrich and Vergé-Dépré rebounded from 17ths in their first two events to place second, fifth, fourth, fifth and ninth in their next five events. Heidrich and Vergé-Dépré, who competed with their former partners in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, started playing on the FIVB World Tour in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Both have played in 67 world tour events with Heidrich netting two gold medals, seven podium placements and eight final four finishes. Vergé-Dépré has one gold medal, five podiums and eight final four finishes to her credit on the world tour.
Nina Betschart/Tanja Hüberli, Switzerland
Qualifying for their first Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals via a wildcard, Betschart and Hüberli placed ninth at the FIVB World Championships earlier this month in Vienna. Highlighting the pair’s world tour partnership has been bronze medal finishes at the 2016 Klagenfurt Major and 2017 Poreč Major. Betschart played for the first-time on the FIVB World Tour in 2012 and became a regular participant in 2016 when she started playing with Hüberli. The international circuit’s most improved player in 2014, Hüberli started playing on the World Tour in 2012 and became a regular the next season. Betschart has participated in 26 FIVB World Tour events and Hüberli 52.
Summer Ross/Brooke Sweat, United States
Playing their first season together on the FIVB World Tour, Ross and Sweat qualified for the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals via their international ranking. ‘Summer Sweat’ placed fifth at the FIVB World Championships earlier this month in Vienna. Sweat and Lauren Fendrick qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where the pair placed 19th. Ross was the dominant player in the 2010 FIVB youth world championships as she won 14-straight matches with two different partners in topping the podium at the under-19 (Jane Croson) and under-21 (Tara Roenicke) events in Portugal and Turkey, respectively. Ross played in her first FIVB World Tour event in 2011 and became a full-time competitor on the international circuit in 2013. Ross’ best world tour placements are seconds with Emily Day (2013 Thailand) and Sweat (2017 Moscow). Sweat played in her first FIVB event in 2009 and became a regular in 2013 when she collected her first World Tour medal with Fopma in Berlin. The Moscow silver this season with Ross is Sweat’s best world tour placement.
Lauren Fendrick/April Ross, United States
A wildcard entrant for the Swatch FIVB World Finals, Fendrick and Ross will be competing in the event for the second-time after placing fifth in the inaugural competition in 2015 at Fort Lauderdale. Playing their first full-season together, Fendrick and Ross claimed the silver medal at the FIVB World Championships earlier this month in Vienna. Fendrick began competing in FIVB-sanctioned events in 2007 and captured the gold medal at challenger/satellite event in 2007 with Ashly Ivy Swift. The silver medal at the world championships was Fendrick’s best placement at a world tour event. Fendrick and Brooke Sweat placed 19th at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Ross has been competing on the FIVB World Tour since 2006 with 21 gold medals, including 10 with Kessy and 11 with Walsh Jennings. Ross captured the silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics with Kessy and the bronze with Walsh Jennings at the Rio 2016 Summer Games.