2019-03-05 11:21:00 CEST

Sydney three-star preview

We run the rule over the teams making the trip to Australia

Australian Champs 2019! 🏆💚💛

1,518 Likes, 32 Comments - Mariafe Artacho del Solar (@mariafe_beach1) on Instagram: "Australian Champs 2019! 🏆💚💛"

The first three-star FIVB World Tour tournament kicks off in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday with strong fields in both genders aiming for important Olympic ranking points.

Home chances

Much will be expected of home favorites and World Tour high-flyers Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho. The Australian duo are currently eighth in the World Rankings and will be keen to build on an excellent 2018 season that saw them win four golds on the World Tour, silver at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the World Tour Finals in Hamburg.

The pair are joined in the main draw by Phoebe Bell and Jessyka Ngauamo and Brittany Kendall and Stefanie Weiler. A further six Australian teams will compete in qualification on Wednesday.

Arguably the strongest men’s Australian men’s partnership in over a decade, Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh, was split up by Volleyball Australia last summer as the country seeks to send two teams to the Tokyo Olympics. Both players have already struck up burgeoning partnerships with new teammates, with Schumann with together with Cole Durant and McHugh paired with Zachery Schubert.

Paul Burnett and Maximilian Guehrer are the third Aussie team in the main draw, while a further three teams from the host nation will aim to make it out of what looks a tough qualification section.

Borger/Sude make World Tour debut

Eyebrows were raised across the beach world when Julia Sude announced her departure from Chantal Laboureur to team-up with childhood friend Karla Borger. The new team, built in the wake of Kira Walkenhorst’s retirement, make their bow on the international stage in Sydney. Karla and Julia enter the tournament as second seeds and go into the event having won a bronze medal at the Volleyball Australia event at Manly beach in the weekend just gone.

⁣There it is! 🙌⠀ Happy about our first medal together, Bronze 🥉!⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Da ist sie, unsere erste gemeinsame Medaille, wir freuen uns über Bronze 🥉 hier in Sydney!⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #beachvolleyball #volleyfest #welovesydney #manlybeach #bronzemedal #welovebeachvolleyball #podium #heretocreate

283 Likes, 16 Comments - Borger | Sude (@borgersude) on Instagram: "⁣There it is! 🙌⠀ Happy about our first medal together, Bronze 🥉!⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Da ist sie, unsere erste..."

Julia and Karla face stiff and familiar competition in the shape of Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider, the one team from Germany that stuck together in the aftermath of Kira’s retirement.

Americans in town

The USA will be well represented Down Under with no less than nine teams in action across both genders.

I think this photo is from 8 years ago. I didn't know what I was doing. I was still living in Florida and telling myself I'd never move away from my family. I was DEFINITELY NOT moving to California 😏 Fast forward and here I am - living in California for 7 years now. Tonight I'm headed to Australia to play with @kerrileewalsh. Like..what?!? How'd this happen? I'm reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 and that the Lord's plans are to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. This just gives me so much peace. I'm thankful to serve a faithful and loving God. I have no idea what the next 8 years will look like but I know who does 💜 #letgo #letGod #LAXtoSYD

1,201 Likes, 32 Comments - Brooke Youngquist Sweat (@brookesweat) on Instagram: "I think this photo is from 8 years ago. I didn't know what I was doing. I was still living in..."

The biggest name is that of Kerri Walsh Jennings, the three-time Olympic champion whose new partnership with Brooke Sweat has already seen the pair win a bronze medal on the World Tour this season, at Chetumal in October. Also in the main draw are Betsy Flint and Emily Day and Brittany Howard and Kelly Reeves.

The top two seeds in the men’s competition both hail from the US, with Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb and John Hyden and Ryan Doherty at the head of the entry list. Billy Allen and Stafford Slick also make the main draw, while Bill Kolinske and Miles Evans and Theo Brunner and Reid Priddy aim to make it through from qualification.

Japanese eyeing 2020

All eyes in Japan will be on their competing athletes as they gear up for the Olympics which heads to Tokyo next year.

We're in Sydney 🇦🇺🐨💗 . 3枚目の写真はManly beach にある JIPANG という日本食屋さんで食べた美味しいカツ丼😋💗毎回来るたびにお世話になってます🙏🏽🇯🇵 . 気温は27度くらいで日差しは暑いけど日陰は涼しい感じ。 今日は結構風も吹いてた! 試合までの間に環境に慣れるよう、しっかり練習します! . #sydney #manlybeach #fivbworldtour #beachvolleyball #volleyfest #volleyroo #jipang #sayakamizoe #toyota #athome #descente #oakley #glicopowerproduction #japan

354 Likes, 9 Comments - 溝江明香 Sayaka Mizoe (@sayakamizoe) on Instagram: "We're in Sydney 🇦🇺🐨💗 . 3枚目の写真はManly beach にある JIPANG という日本食屋さんで食べた美味しいカツ丼😋💗毎回来るたびにお世話になってます🙏🏽🇯🇵 ...."

The stronger hand lies with their women’s teams with three duos in the main draw. Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishii, who finished fifth in Gstaad last season, and Sayaka Mizoe and Suzuka Hashimoto, who won three World Tour medals last year, are well set for a good run in Sydney.

Three Japanese men’s teams will need to come through qualification to join wildcards Takumi Takahashi and Yoshiumi Hasegawa in the main draw.

What else to expect

  • There are just two Brazilian teams making the trip to Sydney, both appearing in the men’s competition. George Wanderley and Thiago Barbosa are in the main draw, while 44-year-old beach legend Harley Marques teams up with Marico Gaudie.
  • Italians Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth ended last season in great style as they reunited on the sand after Orsi Toth’s ban, achieving top-10 finishes in all of the seven events they competed in.
  • Among a strong men’s qualification section, lie English twins Joaquin and Luis Bello. The 18 year olds finished fifth at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in October.

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