Australia’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar playing defence in Doha

Australia’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar playing defence in Doha

All five continental confederations will be represented at the Kusadasi Challenge tournament with 48 women’s teams on the entry lists for the main draw and qualifiers as the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour visits Turkey from May 19 through 22. Pairs from as many as 27 different countries have signed up to participate in the event on the Aegean coast.

Tokyo Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar lead the list of 16 main draw seeds. It will be the Australian pair’s third appearance on the Beach Pro Tour. They reached the semifinals at last week’s Challenge tournament in Doha to improve on the ninth place they claimed at the Rosarito Elite16 in March.

Position two in the seeding is taken by Brazil’s Elize Maia and Thamela Coradello. The number seven team in the FIVB World Ranking skipped Doha, but played at the previous three high-level Tour stops, claiming bronze at the inaugural event in Tlaxcala. Another Brazilian duo, Taina Bigi and Victoria Lopes, who played at all four Elite16 or Challenge tournaments so far, will try to make it past the round of 16 for the first time, starting as the sixth seed in Kusadasi.

As many as four German teams are seeded directly in the Kusadasi main draw. The fourth-ranked pair in the world, Karla Borger and Julia Sude, champions of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals last year, are seeded third in their quest to improve on their best Beach Pro Tour finish so far, a fourth place in Itapema.

Their compatriots, Cinja Tillmann and Svenja Muller, Sandra Ittlinger and Isabel Schneider, and Doha silver medallists Sarah Schulz and Chantal Laboureur, are seeded fifth, seventh and ninth, respectively.

The United States has two duos among the top 16 and they are Terese Cannon and Sarah Sponcil in seed four and Corinne Quiggle and Sarah Schermerhorn, who finished ninth at both Tlaxcala and Doha, in seed 14.

The remaining six pairs, seeded directly into the main draw, come from six different countries. They are Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre of Switzerland, Brandie Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec of Canada, Belen Carro and Angela Lobato of Spain, Kinga Wojtasik and Katarzyna Kociolek of Poland, Barbora Hermannova and Marie-Sara Stochlova of Czechia, Katharina Schutzenhofer and Lena Plesiutschnig of Austria and Merve Celebi and Bahanur Gokalp of Turkey.

The home team, whose members recently earned the titles of Queens of the Snow as season champions of the CEV Snow Volleyball European Tour, will return to sand for their rookie appearance on the Beach Pro Tour.

Canadian twins Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara, who reached the Doha quarterfinals and went up to number eight in the World Ranking, headline the list of 32 pairs to play in the Kusadasi qualifiers.

Two American duos attract attention further down the list of teams in the qualifiers. Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss, who have had a great season so far, won the inaugural Beach Pro Tour Futures event in Coolangatta at their international debut. They made it to the eighth-finals in Itapema and, most recently, topped the podium at USA’s domestic AVP Tour season opener in Austin. The other is a brand new partnership between Emily Stockman, who had been playing with Lauren Fendrick since the start of the Beach Pro Tour, and 19-year-old Megan Kraft, a 2021 U19 world champion in Phuket.