01_BPT Rosarito - Qualification NEDvsMEX

Schoon and Stam made it to the main draw in Mexico

Things can change quickly in international beach volleyball and Dutch Olympians Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam experienced the latest example of that on Wednesday, when they started their campaign at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 event in Rosarito, Mexico.

Three days after they claimed the silver medals at the Tlaxcala Challenge, the young Europeans were back on the court but in a very different situation: they were one of the 16 women’s teams entered in the qualifier of the tournament held at Rosarito Beach.

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The Dutch had a prolific day in the Mexican coastal city, defeating the home team of Abril Flores and Maria Ibarra 2-0 (21-12, 21-13) and the winners of the 2019 FIVB World Tour Finals, Germans Karla Borger and Julia Sude, also in two sets (22-20, 21-15), to advance to the main draw.

Last year, the 20-year-old Schoon and the 23-year-old Stam eliminated Borger and Sude from the Tokyo Olympics with a pool play victory.

“Playing in Tlaxcala was great in terms of getting into competition rhythm again,” Stam commented. “During the winter we trained with the same group of players, so in Tlaxcala it was the first opportunity we had to face different opponents. We had to adjust our game and our technique and I think it worked well for us.”

Stam/Schoon vs. Borger/Sude - Match Highlights

Brazilian Olympians Talita Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti also advanced with two victories. They first took down the Canadian twins Megan and Nicole McNamara in two sets (22-20, 21-15) and then had another dominant performance in an all-Brazilian match against Taina Bigi and Victoria Lopes, winning 2-0 (21-11, 21-12).

03_BPT Rosarito - Qualification BRAvsBRA 2nd Round

Talita and Taina battle at the net

The other two second round matches in the women’s qualifier went to three sets. In one of them, Americans Sara Hughes and Kelley Kolinske prevailed over Brazilians Taiana Lima and Hegeile ‘Hege’ Santos 2-1 (24-26, 22-20, 17-15). The last main draw berth went to Germans Cinja Tillmann and Svenja Muller, who eliminated Austrians Lena Plesiutsching and Katharina Schutzenhofer also in the tie-breaker (21-15, 20-22, 15-9).

Hughes/Kolinske vs. Taiana Lima/Hegeile - Match Highlights

In the men’s tournament, Austria, Brazil, Italy and the United States were the countries that had teams making it to the main draw in Rosarito. Playing in their first tournament in 2022, Austrians Robin Seidl and Philipp Waller won a pair of qualifier matches to move forward.

05_BPT Rosarito - Qualification AUTvsCHI 2nd Round

Waller and Seidl celebrated their promising start in Rosarito

Their opening match was a three-setter (28-26, 27-21, 15-12) against Estonians Kusti Nolvak and Mart Tiisaar, but in their second encounter they needed just two sets (21-19, 21-12) to oust Chilean cousins Marco and Esteban Grimalt.

“We were really looking forward to playing in Tlaxcala but I got Covid before the trip and couldn’t go,” Seidl, a Rio 2016 Olympian, said. “We’re really happy to be here. We knew the first match of the season would be tough for us because we had very good opponents and also very hot weather. We’ve only been training indoors in Austria because of the winter and it was hard to deal with the temperature. Luckily the second match was a little later, when it was fresher, and we found a good rhythm. I’m really happy we succeeded today and am already looking forward to tomorrow.”

Grimalt M./Grimalt E. vs. Seidl R./Waller - Match Highlights

Rio 2016 Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and his Brazilian partner Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes had a slightly more comfortable path, winning both of their qualifier matches in two sets. They cruised past (21-13, 21-8) Mexicans Juan Virgen and Miguel Sarabia in the morning and won a closer two-set (21-18, 22-20) duel with pair Swiss Marco Krattiger and Florian Breer in the evening.

02_BPT Rosarito - Qualification BRAvsSUI 2nd Round

Alison and Guto moved forward in Rosarito

The final two main draw spots went to Italians Paolo Nicolai and Samuele Cottafava, who eliminated Germans Lukas Pfretzschner and Robin Sowa in straight sets (21-13, 21-15), and Americans Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk, who defeated compatriots Chase Budinger and Troy Field also in two sets (21-19, 21-18).

The main draw in Rosarito starts on Thursday with 12 men's and 12 women's pool play matches set to take place. Pool play will be concluded on Friday while the quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Saturday and the medal matches for Sunday.