This week we were lucky enough to be granted a free entry (wild card) in the main draw.
This meant we didn’t have to play a day early in the qualification rounds. The Austrian event, held lakeside in Klagenfurt is beach volleyballs Wimbledon. We all love to play there. The event is a Grand Slam. US$300,000 prize money and the stadium is second to none. The players are treated to lakeside on site catered lunch and the hotel is a treat.
In a Grand Slam event the competition format is different. We play pool play. 8 pools of 4 teams with the top 3 advance to the single elimination round.
Our pool consisted of
- USA 1 Ross/Kessy (2009 World Champions)
- NED* 1 Keizer-Van Iersel
- NED 2 Wesselink-Meppelink
*NED – Netherlands
We were the lowest seeded team in the pool. Our first match was against USA. We had a great game plan and played awesome. Losing the first set we rallied to win the second and then go head to head in the 3rd.. Unfortunately not coming away with the win on the score board, but we felt energized that we had come back at a high level and mixing it with the best. Next match that afternoon NED 1. Again we came out on great. Taking another top team to 3 sets. This time though, we came out on top. Some great plays at the net and our offence was spot on. We had won a game in the pool. Yeah. This meant we were likely to progress to the next round. The next morning we played the last of our pool matches vs NED 2. We didn’t play so well in this match. Losing in 2 sets, we never really found our rhythm.
After pool play there is a drawing of lots to determine the lay of the next rounds. We drew the Brasilian sisters. They are a high energy team and we needed to bring our “A” game. We again didn’t quite have the rhythm and they beat us in 2 sets.
17th Place. An OK result for us based on the level of our preparation. It was exciting and fun to play at that level again. We had played some awesome volleyball this week. We just had to do it more consistently. This will be the challenge over the next few weeks.
Next stop Polland.