2017-12-30 10:00:00 CEST
Brazilian legends end 2017 top of the World Rankings
The beginning of the 2018 season is just around the corner – and with it the start of a new year where a whole host of tournaments are ready and waiting to offer teams all-important ranking points.
The past 12 months showcased some breathtaking beach volleyball – none more so than at the epic World Championships in Vienna as players from all corners of the globe fought for a share of the one million Dollar prize.
But which women’s teams ended this memorable year on the sand at the top of their game? Here’s our rundown of those partnerships who rated the best in beach volleyball.
1 Larissa/Talita (Brazil) 5,560 points – 2016: 3rd
Perched on top of the world as 2018 rolls in are the experienced Brazilian duo, who ended their season with bronze medals in both the World Champs in Vienna and the World Tour Finals in Hamburg. 2017 began with the pair in third place but three gold medals – in Fort Lauderdale, Moscow and Olsztyn – plus a silver in Gstaad – lifted them up to top spot.
2 Pavan/Humana-Parades (Canada) 4,480 points – 2016: n/a
What a first season it was for the Canadian pair. Their finishes in 2017 read 29413244 and meant they reached the semifinals in seven of their eight events. Their first gold medal came on Canada Day in Poreč in June and they followed that up with a bronze a week later in Gstaad. Their one problem at the end of the season was Larissa/Talita… the Brazilians got the better of them twice in the bronze medal matches in both Vienna and Hamburg.
3 Laboureur/Sude (Germany) 4,240 points – 2016: 5th
The 2017 was yet another super consistent season for the Germans who earned top 10 finishes in eight of their nine events over the past 12 months. They kicked started 2017 with a bronze medal in Fort Lauderdale but their highlight was without doubt their Gstaad Major gold that saw them beat Larissa/Talita in style in the final of the Major in the mountains.
4 Agatha/Duda (Brazil) 4,000 points – 2016: n/a
Having won everything there is to win at youth and junior level, Duda’s first full season on the World Tour did not disappoint, as together with partner Agatha – 15 years her senior – she won six medals in 2017. The team began with a silver medal in Fort Lauderdale and then won gold on home sand in Rio. Although the Brazilians disappointed at the World Champs – finishing 17th – the pair ended the season with a brilliant silver medal at the World Tour Finals, where they pushed Ludwig/Walkenhorst all the way.
5 Hermannová/Slukova (Czech Republic) 3,360 points – 2016: 17th
The first of two Czech teams to make the top 10 in 2017, the duo rose from 17th place in 2016 to leap into the top five with a string of impressive displays. Finishing in the top 10 in all nine of the tournaments they entered, the most notable success was their silver medal in a classic Poreč Major final in June when they lost out to Pavan/Humana-Paredes in a match that will be best remembered for a sensational first set that saw the Europeans take 34-32.
6 Barbara/Fernanda (Brazil) 3,180 points – 2016: n/a
A year on from winning Olympic silver with former partner Agatha, Barbara and new partner Fernanda were another model of consistency in 2017. Their top moment was taking home gold in Xiamen in April but the pair came agonizingly close to a bronze medal in Poreč, only to lose out to Swiss youngsters Hüberli/Betschart.
7 Summer/Sweat (USA) 3,060 points – 2016: n/a
Another new tandem to impress during 2017, the Americans enjoyed a fine start to the season, finishing fourth in Fort Lauderdale and the second in Moscow. After finishing 17th in Poreč and 25th in Gstaad, the duo bounced back to post back-to-back fifths in Poland and at the World Champs – performances that enabled them to seal a spot in the top 10.
=8 Kolocova/Kvapilova (Czech Republic) 2,940 points – 2016: 40th
The (and major emphasis on the ‘the’ here) improvers in 2017, the second team to represent the Czech Republic in the top 10 stormed up the rankings during the course of the last 12 months. This time last year the pair were in 40th spot but three fifths and four ninth place finishes hauled them up the rankings and earned them a place at the World Tour Finals in Hamburg.
=8 Heidrich/Vergé-Dépré (Switzerland) 2,940 points – 2016: n/a
Following the retirement of their partners, the young Swiss stars joined forces in 2017 and ended the campaign with the impression that they will be a major force in 2018. After a slow start – they finished 17th in their first two tournaments – they found their rhythm, posting five top-five finishes; won a silver medal in The Hague and came mighty close to winning a bronze on home sand in Gstaad.
10 Bawden/Clancy (Australia) 2,616 – 2016: 29th
Completing the top 10 are a team that have gone their separate ways already for 2018. A streak of top 10 finishes – including in Poreč and Gstaad – kept the Australians among the top seeded players on the international scene with their highlight a bronze medal on home sand in the Sydney event in March.
Movers and shakers
This time last year, Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross sat as the World’s top ranked team at Christmas, however after splitting up the pair have since dropped out of the top 10. Ross won World Champs silver with Lauren Fendrick while injury restricted three-time Olympic champ Kerri and new partner Nicole Branagh to just three tournaments together.
Injury also limited Olympic champions Ludwig/Walkenhorst to just five tournaments together in 2017 but their season was another to remember as they not only clinched their first ever World Championship title but also made it back-to-back World Tour Finals gold. They end 2017 in 12th position in the World Rankings but won't be collecting points in 2018 together, following the news that Ludwig is expecting a baby in June.
Many names who were riding high in last year’s end-of-year rankings have since put down the Mikasa, but one notable inclusion in the top 20 this time round are America’s rising stars, Claes/Hughes, who moved up from 67th to 19th in their first year as professionals on the World Tour. The pair’s best result came with a fifth place in Poreč but they also finished ninth in their first World Championships in Vienna, losing to eventual champs Laura and Kira in the second knockout stage. They are certainly a team to keep an eye on in 2018.
Where did your favorite team end 2017? Click here to find out the full FIVB World Ranking.