Qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the South American continental process, Gallay and Zonta are back playing together for the first-time since October 2013. The 2017 FIVB World Championships will be Zonta’s first appearance in the event while Gallay placed 37th in the 2015 competition in The Netherlands with Georgina Klug. Prior to the 2017 season, Gallay and Zonta had played in five FIVB World Tour events with their best placement being a 17th in 2013. Gallay and Zonta placed 19th in the London 2012 Olympic Games with a ninth at the Mexico 2011 PanAm Games. Gallay and Klug topped the podium together at the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games and placed 19th in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Fifth-place finishers at both the FIVB 2015 World Championships and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Bawden and Clancy qualified for the 2017 worlds via international ranking points. The pair also placed 17th in the 2013 world championships in Poland during their first season together on the FIVB World Tour. Prior to 2013, Bawden played with Becchara Palmer as the partnership netted a ninth at the FIVB 2013 World Championships in Rome and a 19th at the London 2012 Olympic Games. After playing indoors for Australia in Volleyball at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and 2002 World Championships, Bawden started her international Beach Volleyball career in 2009 when she was honored as the FIVB World Tour rookie-of-the-year. Clancy’s first appearance on the international tour was in 2011 as she netted a bronze medal in the 2010 FIVB under-19 World Championships with Eliza Hynes.
A new team this season on the FIVB World Tour, Laird and Ngauamo qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the Asian continental process. Both players have previous world championship experience playing with Mariafe Artacho. Ngauamo and Artacho placed 37th in the 2013 worlds in Poland. Laird and Artacho were 17th at the 2015 worlds in The Netherlands after winning the FIVB’s under-23 world championships in 2014 and before finishing 19th at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
In gaining a “host” country berth for the 2017 FIVB World Championships, Schutzenhofer and Schwaiger will be the top ranked Austrian women’s pair in the competition. After missing the 2015 worlds in The Hague, both players are back in the competition with Schwaiger making her sixth appearance and Schutzenhofer her second. Schwaiger placed fifth in the 2009 and 2011 worlds with her sister (Doris) while Schutzenhofer and Barbara Hansel were ninth in 2013. Schwaiger placed fifth in both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games with her sister. Schwaiger, who started playing internationally in 2002, has played in more FIVB-sanctioned events than any other player in the world (168 and counting). Schutzenhofer’s first FIVB event was 2010. Both players have FIVB youth World Championship medals with the Schwaiger sisters capturing bronze at the 2005 uinder-21s in Rio. Schutzenhofer has a 2011 under-19 silver and 2013 under-21 bronze with Lena Plesiutschnig at events in Croatia.
In gaining their first appearance in the prestigious events, Plesiutschnig and Rimser netted a “host” country berth for the 2017 FIVB World Championships. Another new pairing on the 2017 FIVB World Tour, Plesiutschnig and Rimser have already earned a medal with a third-place finish in mid-April at the Malaysia stop. While Rimser competed in her first FIVB World Tour event in 2003, Plesiutschnig’s FIVB participation began with youth events in 2010 with her first world tour appearance in 2013. Plesiutschnig has a 2011 under-19 silver and 2013 under-21 bronze with Katharina Schutzenhofer at events in Croatia.
The pair was awarded one of the three “wild cards” for the 2017 FIVB World Championships as both players will be competing in the prestigious event for the first-time. The 19-year old Holzer has only competed in a FIVB youth world championship with a ninth at the 2016 under-21s with Julia Radl. Strauss started playing in FIVB events in 2012 and has netted three quarter-final finishes in youth world championships with her sister (Nadine). The Strauss sisters had a fourth earlier this season at a FIVB World Tour stop in Malaysia.
Two of the winningest players in the history of women’s Beach Volleyball, Talita and Larissa will be competing in their second FIVB World Championship together after placing ninth at the 2015 event in The Netherlands. In qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking, Talita will be appearing for the sixth-time in the worlds and Larissa her seventh. Both have netted medals at the world championships with Larissa teaming with Juliana Felisberta to place second in 2005, third in 2007, second in 2009 and first in 2011. Talita and Maria Antonelli captured the 2009 bronze medal in the 2009 Stavanger worlds. With both players making their FIVB World Tour debuts in 2002, Larissa ranks first all-time in gold medals (61 as of June 24), podium placements (101) and “final four” finishes (108) in 146 events to date. Talita ranks among the top 10 in gold medals (33), podium placements (66) and “final four” finishes (64) in 162 events. 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.
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 the FIVB World Championships via their international ranking. Agatha is playing in her fourth world championship with a 2015 gold medal finish with Barbara Seixas at The Hague. Duda, who will celebrate her 19th birthday (August 1) in Vienna, will be participating in her first senior world championship. She has won four 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, eight podium placements and nine “final four” finishes in her first 19 world tour events. Agatha, who started playing internationally in 2005 with the legendary Sandra Pires, has played in over 100 events and captured the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Barbara.
After splitting with Agatha Bednarczuk after the pairs’ silver medal finish together at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Barbara teamed with Fernanda to start the 2017 FIVB World Tour campaign with the team already capturing one gold medal (Xiamen, China). In netting a 2017 FIVB World Championship bertha via their international ranking, Barbara will be seeking her third-straight medal in the prestigious event with Fernanda in pursuit of her second. After placing third with Liliane Maestrini at the 2013 worlds in Poland, Barbara and Agatha defeated Fernanda and Taiana Lima for the 2015 gold medal in the All-Brazilian title match in The Hague. Competing in FIVB youth world championships five-straight seasons (2003-2007), Barbara captured two golds and three silvers in six appearances. Barbara made her World Tour debut in 2006 and became a full-time participant in 2012. After playing professionally indoor, Fernanda started playing on the FIVB World Tour as a 28-year old in 2013.
Gaining a spot in the 2017 FIVB World Championships due to their international ranking, Taiana will be seeking her second-straight podium placement in the event while Elize Maia will be playing in the worlds for the first-time. After placing 17th in in the 2011 and 2013 world championships with Vivian Cunha and Talita Antunes, respectively, Taina and Fernanda Alves finished second in the 2015 worlds at The Hague. Taina, who netted FIVB youth world championship gold medals with Juliana Felisberta (2002) and Carolina Salgado (2004), competed in her first FIVB World Tour event in 2005 and became a regular competitor in 2010. Taiana and Talita Antunes finished the 2013 season as the top pair on the international circuit. After starting a limited schedule on the FIVB World Tour in 2008, Elize Maia had a break-out season in 2016 as she and Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa won two gold medals, placed on the podium three times and competed in four “final fours”.
As a team that has collectively played in more than 260 FIVB World Tour events with a combined 15 gold medals (through June 24), 57 podium placements and 75 “final four” finishes, Antonelli and Carolina were awarded a “wild card” for the 2017 FIVB World Championships. The world championship appearance will be the fifth for both players as Antonelli has captured two bronze medals in the prestigious event with Talita Antunes (2009) and Juliana Felisberta (2015). Carolina’s best finish was a fifth in 2007 with her sister (Maria Clara). Playing together for the first-time on the FIVB World Tour in 2017, Antonelli and Salgado won a gold medal in their second event at The Hague to become only the second women’s team to capture an international title after qualifying for the Main Draw via a country quota playoff. Carolina, who captured back-to-back FIVB under-21 world championships with Taiana Lima (2004) and Camilla Saldanha (2005), has won FIVB World Tour gold medals with her sister while her mother (Isabel) and brother (Pedro) have topped international podiums.
After qualifying two women’s teams for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the top three Canadian pairs on the 2016 FIVB World Tour split with Pavan joining forces with Humana-Paredes to gain a spot in the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking. The new partnership as produced results with a first, second, third, fourth and ninth in their first five FIVB events in 2017. Pavan will be competing in her third world championship after placing 17th and fifth in the previous two editions in 2013 and 2015 with Heather Bansley. Humana-Paredes and Taylor Pischke were ninth in the 2015 worlds in The Netherlands. 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 Pavan began competing on the FIVB World Tour in 2013 with Bansley as the pair placed fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The “new” partnership, which qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking, started with last September in the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto as Bansley and Wilkerson defeated Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan in a Canadian playoff. Since then, Bansley and Wilkerson have posted three ninths and a fifth in their first four FIVB World Tour starts. While Wilkerson will be playing in her first world championships, Bansley has posted two 17ths and a fifth in her three previous appearances, including the last two with Pavan. A fifth-place finisher at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Pavan, Bansley started participating in FIVB-sanctioned events in 2007 and became a regular on the FIVB World Tour in 2011. 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 finishing being a fifth at June’s stop in The Hague with Bansley, Wilkerson’s NORCECA career was highlighted by a 2016 gold medal with Julie Gordon in Mexico.
A new Canadian pairing, Broder and Pischke were the last qualifying team for the 2017 FIVB World Championships. Broder will be playing in her third world championships after placing 37th and 17th in the past two editions with Kristina Valjas May. Pischke’s debut in the world championships was in 2015 with a ninth with Melissa Humana-Paredes. Broder, who started playing in FIVB-sanctioned events in 2004 and became a regular on the World Tour in 2012, and Valjas May placed ninth in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after being eliminated by compatriots Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan. Broder and Valjas May were the first Canadian women’s team to capture a FIVB World Tour gold medal by topping the 2015 podium in Fuzhou, China. Pischke started playing in FIVB events in 2012 as she and Humana-Paredes netted two bronze medals together at youth under-23 world championships in 2013 and 2014 with Humana-Paredes. Pischke’s best finishes at World Tour events are fifths with Humana-Paredes.
Winners of back-to-back 2017 FIVB World Tour events in March at Shepparton and Sydney, Australia, Gordon and Saxton qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the NORCECA continental process. Both players will be appearing in their first world championships as Gordon started competing on the FIVB World Tour in 2014 and Saxton in 2016. Saxton’s older brother (Ben) is a Canadian Olympian and is competing with Chaim Schalk in the Vienna world championships.
As one of the more experienced teams in the 2017 FIVB World Championships with over 40 international starts together, Wang and Yue qualified for Vienna event via the international ranking allotment. The Chinese pair will be competing in their second FIVB World Championships after placing fifth at the 2015 event in The Netherlands where Wang and Yue eliminated Americans April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings and lost to eventual gold medal winners Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas of Brazil in the quarter-finals. Wang and Yue placed ninth in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where the Chinese lost to both Ross/Walsh Jennings (pool play) and Agatha/Barbara (elimination first round). Wang played in her first FIVB World Tour event in 2010 and Yue in 2006. The Wang/Yue partnership has netted three silver medal finishes on the FIVB World Tour.
The pair qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the Asian continental qualifying rounds. While Wang will be competing in her first world championships, Xue will be appearing for the fifth-time highlighted by a gold medal finish in 2013 with Xi Zhang at Stare Jablonki, Poland. While Wang has been competing on the FIVB World Tour since 2014, Xue’s international career started in 2003 at youth world championships. A regular on the international circuit since 2006, Xue and Zhang compiled 15 gold medals, 38 podium placements and 45 “final four” finishes in 81 FIVB World Tour events. The pair captured the bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and finished fourth in the London 2012 Summer Games.
In becoming the first men’s or women’s team from Colombia to compete in the FIVB World Championships, Galindos qualified for the 2017 Vienna event via the South American continental process. The pair has been competing together on the South American tour since 2011 with one gold medal to their credit in 2014. On the 2017 South American tour, the Colombians have posted a third, two fifths, a seventh and a ninth in five events. The Galindos, who have posted two fifths and a sixth in three PanAm Games, advanced to the final stage of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where the pair won one of four matches in Sochi, Russia.
In qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the NORCECA continental process, Alfaro and Cope Charles will be appearing in their second worlds after placing 37th at the 2015 event in The Netherlands. The pair also qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games via the NORCECA continental cup competition and placed 19th on Copacabana. Alfaro and Cope Charles have been competing together in NORCECA events since 2013 with six medals and two titles. The Costa Ricans were also eighth at the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games.
Lidiannis Echeverria/Leila Martinez, Cuba - The Cubans qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the NORCECA continental process. While Echeverria will be playing in her first worlds, Martinez placed 33rd in the 2015 competition in The Netherlands with Lianma Flores. Echeverria and Martinez have played in three NORCECA tour stops with a 2015 second at a Cuban event and two gold medals at 2017 stops in Mexico and the Cayman Islands. Martinez and Flores were silver medal finishers at the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games.
The Czech Republic pair qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking. Slukova will be playing in her fourth world championships after placing 17th three times with Kristyna Kolocova. Hermannova finished 37th and 33rd in her previous to worlds with Martina Bonnerova. Slukova ended her six-plus season partnership with Kolocova (two gold medals and a fifth at the London 2012 Olympic together) after the 2015 FIVB World Championships and took six weeks off from the FIVB World Tour before teaming with Hermannova, who had played four-plus years with Bonnerova. After placing 33rd in their first two FIVB starts together, Slukova and Hermannova won a World Tour gold medal, finished second in the 2016 European championships and qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games via the Continental Cup in Sochi, Russia. The pair started the 2017 season with a bronze medal at the mid-May FIVB World Tour stop in Rio de Janeiro.
Kolocova has rebounded from a mid-season split with former partner Marketa Slukova in 2015 to qualify for the 2017 FIVB World Championships with Kvapilova via their international ranking together. Kvapilova will be playing in her first world championship while Kolocova has placed 17th three-times with Slukova. Entering their seventh season together on the FIVB World Tour as the No. 8 team on the rankings list highlighted by two gold medals in 2014 and a 39-12 match record, Kolocova and Slukova struggled to start the 2015 campaign with an 11-13 record and split following a 17th at the World Championships in The Netherlands. After taking the rest of the 2015 campaign off, Kolocova returned to competition with Kvapilova to help the Czech Republic earn a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by defeating China for the final Copacabana in Sochi, Russia. To start the 2015 season, Kolocova and Kvapilova have placed fifth in the Fort Lauderdale Major and fourth at the European tour’s stop in Baden, Austria.
The Fins qualified for their first appearance in the FIVB World Championships via their international ranking points. Lahti and Lehtonen formed their partnership mid-way through the 2014 FIVB World Tour season and missed qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after being eliminated in the finals of the European Continental Cup competition. The pair has captured two European tour challenger gold medals in 2014 and 2016. Their best placements on the FIVB World Tour were a fourth in 2014 in Russia and a second in 2016 in Turkey. To create depth among Finnish teams in 2017, Lahti is playing in alternating events with both Lehtonen and Anniina Parkkinen.
On the strength of a 2016 season where the pair won seven gold medals highlighted by podium-topping performances at the Rio Olympics and the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Canada Ludwig and Walkenhorst qualified for their third-straight world championship appearance together via their international ranking. While both of Walkenhorst’s appearances have been with Ludwig with a fifth and 17th in the last two editions, Ludwig will be participating in the FIVB World Championships for the seventh-straight time with the 2013 fifth in Poland being her best placement. 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. With Ludwig having off-season right shoulder surgery and Walkenhorst slowed with various ailments, the Germans have had slow start to the 2017 campaign with their best finish to date being a fifth in Rio.
After missing their bid for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as their country’s No. 3-ranked team with only two teams per nation allowed, Laboureur and Sude qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking. The Vienna appearance will be the second for the German team after placing 17th at the 2015 event in The Hague. While the 2015 world championships were Sude’s first, Laboureur had two previous appearances highlighted by a fifth in 2011 with Jana Kohler. In Laboureur’s first-ever FIVB-sanctioned event in 2008, she and Levke Spinger captured the gold medal at the under-19 world championships in The Hague. Sude also won three medals in her first three FIVB youth world championships in 2004 (under-18 with Florentina Buttner), 2005 (under-19 with Buttner) and 2006 (under-21 with Kohler). Despite missing the Rio Summer Games, Laboureur and Sude finished the 2016 season as the No. 3-ranked team on the FIVB World Tour behind Ludwig/Walkenhorst and April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States. The pair’s gold medal finish at the 2016 Porec Major was unique as Laboureur and Sude had to win a qualifying match to advance to the Main Draw where the Germans defeated two Rio Olympic-qualified teams in the medal rounds. Laboureur and Sude have also won five European tour events, including Baden 2017.
One of three German women’s team to earn a spot in the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking, Schneider will be playing in her first worlds while Bieneck will be competing for the second-time after placing 17th in 2015 with Julia Grossner in The Netherlands. Bieneck and Schneider won the FIVB under-23 world championships in 2013 in Poland. Bieneck and Christine Aulenbrock captured the 2009 under-19 world championships in Turkey. A “new” team on the international circuit, Bieneck and Schneider have a third and fourth to their credit this season. Bieneck has been a regular on the FIVB World Tour since 2012 with her best finish being a 2014 gold medal with Grossner in Anapa, Russia. After her under-23 world title with Bieneck, Schneider started playing on the FIVB World Tour regularly in 2013 as she and Teresa Mersmann placed second in Russia (Anapa) and fourth in South Africa (Durban) to finish the season.
A recipient “wild card” for the 2017 FIVB World Championships, Borger will be playing in her third worlds after placing second and 17th with Britta Buthe in the past two editions in Poland and The Netherlands, respectively. Kozuch will be competing in her first Beach Volleyball world championships after competing for 11 seasons for the German National Team. While Kozuch is playing her first season on the FIVB World Tour, Borger has been a regular since 2009 with a 2014 gold medal finish with Buthe at Lucerne, Switzerland. Borger and Buthe, who also won a 2011 FIVB challenger/satellite event in Korea, competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where the pair placed ninth. Overall, Borger and Buthe collected six World Tour medals in 65 events.
The fourth of five German women’s team in the 2017 FIVB World Championships, Glenzke and Grossner earned their berth via the European Continental Cup process. Glenzke will be playing in her first world championships while Grossner placed 17th at the 2015 event in The Netherlands with Victoria Bieneck. Grossner started competing on the FIVB World Tour in 2008 when she teamed with Frederike Fischer to win bronze medals at challenge/satellite events in Spain and Liechtenstein. Grossner and Bieneck captured a FIVB gold medal at a 2014 World Tour stop in Anapa, Russia. Glenzke started playing in FIVB events in 2013 with her best finishes being ninths, including two this season with Grossner.
In qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the European Continental Cup process, Menegatti will be competing in her fourth worlds after placing ninth (2011 with Greta Cicolari), fifth (2013 with Cicolari) and ninth (2015 with Viktoria Orsi Toth) in the past three editions. Menegatti placed second at the 2007 under-19 world championships with Gilda Lombardo. Perry will be competing in her first world championships as 2017 is only her second- season on the FIVB World Tour and first with Menegatti, who played internationally for the first-time in 2006. Menegatti started playing regularly on the World Tour in 2010 and she has collected more FIVB medals (13) than any other Italian woman in the 25-year history of the international circuit. Here lone World Tour gold medal was in 2015 with Orsi Toth at Sochi, Russia.
Mashkova will be playing in her third FIVB World Championships after qualifying via the Asian Continental Cup process with “newcomer” Samalikova. Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova placed 17th and ninth in the last two worlds. Mashkova started playing in FIVB-sanctioned events in 2003 with her first World Tour appearance in 2004. Her best FIVB World Tour placements were fifth in 2012 (Thailand) and 2013 (China) with Tsimbalova. Mashkova and Tsimbalova also competed in the 2012 FIVB Continental Cup Finals in Moscow. Samalikova have been competing in FIVB events since 2007 and has only appeared once in a World Tour Main Draw in 2014 with Alexandra Varassova in Anapa, Russia, where the pair placed 25th.
In qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the African continental process, Makokha and Too will be the first men’s or women’s team from their country to compete in the prestigious event. The pairs only FIVB competition was at the 2013 under-23 World Championship in Poland where Makokha and Too placed 25th.
In qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the African continental process, Siad and Zeroual will be competing in their first international event together. Siad and Ikram Ettayfi placed 37th at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in The Hague.
Mozambique will have participants for the first-time in the FIVB World Championships after qualifying both a men’s and women’s team for the Vienna event via the African Continental Cup process. Only Manhica has competed in a FIVB-sanctioned event with a 25th at the under-21 world championships with Jessica Moiane.
Qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the European Continental Cup process, Meppelink and van Gestel will be competing in their second worlds after placing 17th in 2013 at the Polish edition. The 2017 worlds will be Meppelink’s fourth and van Gestel’s third. Meppelink and Marleen van Iersel were ninth in 2015 at The Hague while van Gestel and Jantine van der Vlist were 17th. Van Gestel placed on the youth world championship podium three times with two silvers (2008 under-19 with Rimke Braakman and under-21 with Michelle Stiekema) and a bronze (2011 under-21 with Braakman) medal to her credit. Both players are two-time Olympians with Meppelink and van Gestel finishing ninth at the London 2012 Summer Games. At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Meppelink and van Iersel placed ninth and van Gestel and van der Vlist finishing 19th. Meppelink started competing in FIVB-sanctioned events in 2007 and van Gestel in 2008. The pair topped a FIVB World Tour podium together in 2013 at Corrientes, Argentina. Meppelink and van Iersel captured the 2014 European Championships in Italy.
Due to a shoulder injury for Evgeniya Ukolova that forced her to withdraw from the 2017 FIVB World Championships with Anastasia Barsuk, the Dutch team was awarded the Russian team's spot in the event after qualifying via the European Continental Cup process. With Flier-Nummerdor playing her first season on the FIVB World Tour, van Iersel has been competing in international events since 2003. Van Iersel has competed in four previous FIVB World Championships with two different partners (Sanne Keizer in 2009, 2011 and 2013) and Madelein Meppelink in 2015) with a best finish of fifth in 2009 followed by three-straight ninths. Van Iersel netted four medals in nine FIVB youth world championships highlighted by a 2008 under-21 title with Danielle Remmers. Van Iersel and Keizer, who captured two FIVB World Tour gold medals together in May 2011, placed ninth at the London 2012 Olympics. Van Iersel and Meppelink also placed ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Married to Reinder Nummerdor, Nummerdor-Flier played 15 seasons on the Dutch National team and took the 2016 season off to give birth to her first child in July. She started playing Beach Volleyball for the first-time on the FIVB World Tour this season.
The pair qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the South American continental qualifying rounds. Bobadilla posted a third, a second, a fourth and a third this season in four South American tour events with the first three being with Michelle Valiente and the last with Filippo. While Bobadilla will be playing in her first world championships, Filippo placed 17th with Valiente in 2015. Filippo and Valiente also advanced to the final stage of the Olympic qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the pair participated in the FIVB Continental Cup in Sochi, Russia.
Qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the European Continental Cup process, Makroguzova will be playing in her first worlds and Birlova her fourth after placing 17th, ninth and ninth in the last three editions with Evgeniya Ukolova. Makroguzova started playing in FIVB events in 2013 when she placed second at the under-19 world championships in Portugal with Anna Gorbunova. Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina were also second on the 2016 under-21 worlds in Switzerland. Makroguzova's best World Tour finishes have been ninths. Birlova started playing with Makroguzova at the 2016 FIVB Continental Cup in Sochi in helping Russia to earn a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Birlova reunited with Evgeniya Ukolova for the Copacabana Games where the pair placed fifth after being eliminated by silver medal winners Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil. Birlova’s FIVB career began in 2008 as she and Ukolova won two World Tour gold medals in 2012 (Klagenfurt, Austria) and 2013 (Anapa, Russia). Birlova and Ukolova placed ninth in the London 2016 Olympic Games.
In qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the African continental process, Mutatsimpundu and Nzayisenga will be the first men’s or women’s team from their country to compete in the prestigious event. The Rwandans have competed in one FIVB-sanctioned event with a 25th at the under-23 world championships in Poland. Mutatsimpundu and Nzayisenga were also second in an African continental cup event in 2016.
A “new” team on the FIVB World Tour and qualifying via their international ranking, Navarro will be playing in her first “senior” world championships while Elsa will be participating for the fourth-time after placing ninth in the last three editions with Liliana Fernandez. Navarro, who was named as a replacement player for the 2017 FIVB World Championships due to a left ankle injury for Angela Lobato, played on the Spanish indoor national Volleyball team before playing for the first-time on the FIVB World Tour in 2014. Her best FIVB finish is a 2015 ninth with Ester Ribera in Xiamen, China. Elsa’s first FIVB event was in 2007 and she placed fourth that season at the under-21 world championships with Liliana. Elsa and Liliana competed twice in the Olympics and placed ninth at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 summer Games. Elsa and Liliana rank ninth all-time on the FIVB “team” participation list as the pair played in five World Tour finals together.
Qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking, Betschart will be playing in her first “senior” worlds and Hüberli her third after placing 33rd and 17th with Tanja Goricanec. Both players have experience in the FIVB’s youth world championships with Betschart topping the under-21 podium twice in Canada with Joana Heidrich (2011) and Anouk Vergé-Dépré (2012). 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 when the pair won an European challenger/satellite event in Austria. Hüberli, the international circuit’s most improved player in 2014, started playing on the World Tour in 2012 and became a regular the next season. Betschart and Hüberli have netted SWATCH Major Series medals the past two seasons in Austria and Croatia. The Swiss youngsters also placed on the podium this season at an European Tour stop in Austria where Betschart and Hüberli won three of four matches from teams that will compete in the 2017 FIVB World Championships.
The Swiss pair qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international rank. Heidrich and Vergé-Dépré will be each competing in their third FIVB World Championships with career best finishes of 17ths with the Nadine Zumkehr (Heidrich) and Isabelle Forrer (Vergé-Dépré). 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 and fourth in their next three events. Heidrich, the international circuit’s most improved player in 2016, and Vergé-Dépré both started playing in FIVB events in 2009 and captured the under-21 world championships in Canada with Nina Betschart. Heidrich’s U21 crown was in 2011 and Vergé-Dépré’s title was the next season when Halifax hosted- back-to-back youth worlds. Heidrich and Zumkehr won FIVB World Tour gold medals in 2015 (China) and 2016 (Russia) and placed fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympics after losing a three-set quarter-final match to Brazilians Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca. Vergé-Dépré and Forrer, who topped the podium at a 2016 FIVB event in China, placed ninth in the 2016 Copacabana Summer Games after being eliminated by eventual champions Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst.
Qualifying for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the Asian Continental Cup process, the pair will be competing in their third-straight worlds after placing 37th at the past two events in Poland and The Netherlands. The Radarong/Udomchavee partnership is one of the most experienced teams from the Asian confederation on the FIVB World Tour as the pair has been playing together since 2007 with career best finishes of fifths. Radarong and Udomchavee posted a third at a 2014 FIVB challenger/satellite event at Pattaya, Thailand. The Thai team has won eight medals the past five seasons on the Asian tour with second-place finishes at the continental championships in 2013 and 2014.
Qualifying via their international ranking, Davidova and Shchypkova will be the second women’s team from Ukraine to compete in the FIVB World Championships. Svitlana Baburina and Galyna Osheyko were 17th at the 2009 FIVB World Championships in Stavanger, Norway. After playing in four FIVB events in 2007, Davidova returned to the World Tour in 2016 with Shchypkova as the pair participated for the Ukraine in the FIVB Continental Cup finals in Sochi, Russia. Davidova and Shchypkova's best FIVB World Tour finish was a ninth earlier this season in Rio de Janeiro along with 17ths at SWATCH Major Series events in Croatia and Switzerland. The Ukrainians captured a gold medal at a 2016 European challenger/satellite event in Lithuania.
Playing their first season together on the FIVB World Tour, Ross and Sweat qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking. “Summer Seat” placed fourth and second in their first two events together at stops in the United States and Russia, respectively. Sweat will be competing in her third-straight world championships with a fifth in the 2015 event with Lauren Fendrick. Both Ross and Sweat placed 17th at the 2013 worlds in Poland with Emily Day and Jennifer Fopma, respectively. Sweat and 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. She and Emily Day placed second together at a 2013 FIVB World Tour event in Thailand. 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.
Fendrick and Ross qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via their international ranking. A “new” team this season after splitting with their Rio 2016 Olympic partners where Ross collected the bronze medal with Kerri Walsh Jennings and Fendrick placed 19th with Brooke Sweat. Ross will be competing in her sixth world championships and captured the “trophy” at the 2009 event in Norway with Jen Kessy. She placed fourth at the 2013 worlds with Whitney Pavlik in Poland. Fendrick has played in the world championships four times and has placed fifth in the past three with Brooke Niles (Nick Lucena’s wife), Brittany Hochevar and Sweat, respectively. 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 and Kessy captured the silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games after losing the All-American finale to Misty May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings. Fendrick began competing in FIVB-sanctioned events in 2007 and captured the gold medal at challenger/satellite events in 2007 with Ashly Ivy Swift. Both player’s husbands are head Beach Volleyball coaches at American universities - Andrew Fuller (Fendrick) at Stanford and Brad Keenan (Ross) at Arizona State.
Two-time American collegiate champions, Claes and Hughes qualified for their first FIVB World Championship appearance via their international ranking. The pair’s prior FIVB world championship experience was in the youth competition where Claes and Hughes captured bronze medals together in 2013 (under-19) and 2014 (under-21). In addition to the youth medals, Claes and Hughes have captured three titles on the NORCECA tour and defeated Rio 2016 Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in a pool play match at the 2016 Klagenfurt Major. It was the Germans last defeat prior to winning 13-straight matches enroute to topping the podium in Klagenfurt followed by the Olympic gold medal on Copacabana.
Due to a right shoulder injury for three-time Olympic and world champion Kerri Walsh Jennings at the last FIVB World Tour event in Poland, Day was named as a replacement player. The Branagh/Walsh Jennings partnership qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the NORCECA continental qualifying rounds. Branagh teamed with Elaine Youngs to finish fifth at both the 2007 and 2009 world champions. Branagh and Young were also quarter-finalists at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. A member of the U.S. National Team from 2001-2003, Branagh started playing on the FIVB World Tour in 2006 and captured a gold medal with Elaine Youngs in 2008 in Barcelona. Day, who started playing on the FIVB World Tour in 2011, has placed 17th in two previous world championships with Summer Ross (2013) and Jen Kessy (2015). Day’s best FIVB finishes were posted in 2013 highlighted by a second-place finish in the season’s finale event in Thailand with Ross. Earlier that season, “Summer Day” combination placed fourth at the United States stop in Long Beach.
The pair qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the South American continental qualifying rounds. Agudo and Brito has two seconds and a fourth in three South American tour events in 2017 after capturing two titles in 2016 during Olympic qualification. While Brito will be competing in her first world championships, Agudo teamed with Olaya Pazo to place 17th in the 2015 event in The Netherlands. Agudo and Pazo also qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and placed 17th by winning one of four matches. After starting her FIVB career in 2010 playing in the youth world championships, Agudo started playing full-time on the World Tour in 2014 with a career-best finish of fifth with Pazo. Brito also played in FIVB youth worlds twice before starting World Tour in 2014 with 17ths as her best placements.