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Brandie & Bukovec in a triumphant hug after progressing to the quarterfinals

Canada’s Brandie Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec were the first team to book their spot in the quarterfinals of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Hamburg Elite16 event after winning both their Pool D games on the German sand on Thursday.

· Watch all main draw matches at the Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Hamburg live on Volleyball TV.

The fourth-seeded silver medallists of the 2022 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship in Rome went to three sets in their opening game, but managed to overcome the resistance of Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi, who scored as many as seven aces in the match. With eight kill blocks from Brandie alone, backed up by some great spiking from Bukovec, the Canadians claimed a 2-1 (21-15, 18-21, 15-7) victory.

Brandie Wilkerson’s successful blocks against Menegatti & Gottardi

In their second match, Brandie and Bukovec went against the winners of another first-round game, Sandra Ittlinger and Isabel Schneider of Germany. The home pair put up a good fight, but it was once again Brandie’s blocking that made the difference in an otherwise balanced duel. Bukovec was on fire in attack as they managed a 2-0 (24-22, 21-19) win.

“I am happy! No matter what happened in those games, if it’s two wins, I’ll take it!” an elated Brandie told Volleyball World after their second win. “We have each other and that’s great! Sophie is a fighter, so it’s always fun to be on the court with her. I knew she was an incredible athlete when we started playing together, but to also get along is extremely great and it feels good to just have fun on the court. I couldn’t ask for more of a perfect partner to play with right now.”

Ittlinger and Schneider came back from a set down in their first match against Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre to take a 2-1 (21-23, 21-14, 15-7) victory. Menegatti and Gottardi also defeated the Swiss in three sets, 2-1 (21-16, 10-21, 15-12), to stay in contention for the second ticket to the quarterfinals. It will be decided in a direct clash with the Germans on Friday.

Muller & Tillmann v Brunner & Huberli match highlights

The other Swiss duo, Nina Brunner and Tanja Huberli collected two wins in Pool A, but have yet to stamp their ticket to the playoffs. The European champions mastered a 2-0 (21-7, 21-17) shutout of Spanish qualifiers Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno and followed up with a 2-0 (21-14, 26-24) upset of top-seeded Germans Cinja Tillmann and Svenja Muller.

Earlier in the day, the Germans were also upset by Latvia’s Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina in three sets, 2-1 (21-13, 14-21, 15-13). The Latvians were then in turn stunned by the 20-year-old Spaniards, who came back from a set down to celebrate a 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 15-5) victory, with Moreno putting away 26 points in attack.

Kelly Cheng’s top plays against Talita & Rebecca

In Pool B meanwhile, USA’s Kelly Cheng and Betsi Flint produced a straight-set upset of second-seeded Brazilians Talita Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti, scoring four aces each towards a 2-0 (25-23, 21-13) victory. German qualifiers Sarah Schulz and Chantal Laboureur pushed the world’s number two team, Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon of the Netherlands, to three, but the Dutch side capitalised on their opponents’ unforced errors to come out on top with a 2-1 (16-21, 24-22, 15-10) comeback.

Germans and Brazilians, however, were successful in the first round of Pool C. Karla Borger and Julia Sude made the German fans happy with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) sweep of the Netherlands’ Emma Piersma and Mexime van Driel, while FIVB World Ranking leaders Barbara Seixas and Carol Solberg hammered out a 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) win over Thailand’s Taravadee Naraphornrapat and Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee.

Friday’s main draw action in the women’s competition will begin at 08:00 local time (06:00 GMT) with the second-round games in Pool B.