2019-05-22 11:23:00 CEST

All aboard for Jinjiang

The next stop on the FIVB World Tour is a trip to China. This is our preview. Enjoy.

Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser will play only their third tournament of 2019 in JinjiangNick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser will play only their third tournament of 2019 in Jinjiang

What’s the deal?

The beach elite’s next port of call is Jinjiang in south eastern China. As we’ve copy/pasted from Wikipedia, Jinjiang is a county-level city of Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China. More importantly, the beach volleyball tournament taking place in the city is a big one – a four-star one in fact, with a prize purse of some 300,000 US Dollars. There’s also big points to be won in the race for the next Olympics. It might be still over a year away, but every tournament counts. That means a number of the world’s top teams have made the journey to the Chinese coast. It promises to be yet another tournament full of twists and turns. Plus probably very humid temperatures and plenty of rain. Lovely stuff.

Grinding through the quali

Among the men’s teams who qualified for the main draw following the two rounds of qualification on Wednesday were Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho and Americans Casey Patterson and Budinger. In the women’s event, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat got through yet another round of qualification, as did Brazilians Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima. This qualification lark, must be taking its toll on these teams – but they’re showing no signs of fatigue yet.

Around the world in 24 hours

Itapema gold medalists Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sørum and Dutch duo Joy Stubbe and Marleen van Iersel, who finished fourth, made the mad dash to China having both played in Brazil on Sunday. Both teams enter the competition in the main draw, which gets under way on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how the effects of traveling influences the teams after their 17,000km (10,500-mile) journey in such a short space of time.

Laura Ludwig and Maggie Kozuch aim to build on their ninth place finish last time outLaura Ludwig and Maggie Kozuch aim to build on their ninth place finish last time out

In it to win it

After their exploits in Itapema, the Vikings aim for back-to-back golds, something of course they are no strangers too. Standing in their way are a host of top challengers, including several teams from Brazil, including Evandro and Bruno and Vitor Felipe and Pedro Solberg, plus Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. The US pair will play only their second World Tour event of 2019 having last competed in Xiamen where they exited at the pool play stage.

None of the women’s medalists in Itapema have traveled to China, but the field remains strong. Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artatcho arrive having triumphed in the AVC Championships two weeks ago, while recent World Tour gold medalists Marketa Sluková and Barbora Hermannová of the Czech Republic have also made the trip east. Reigning Olympic and World champion Laura Ludwig continues her comeback with new teammate Maggie Kozuch, while Brazil have a strong hand in the shape of Barbara/Fernanda, Agatha/Duda and Rebecca/Ana Patricia. The same can be said of the USA, with Walsh Jennings and Sweat joining Sara Hughes/Summer Ross, Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil and Emily Day/Betsi Flint in the main draw.

Haven’t we played here before?

Jinjiang hosted a two-star event at the end of May last year, so for some the players, this will be their first trip to this particular corner of China. Last year Suzuka Hashimoto and Sayaka Mizoe of Japan and Trevor Crabb and John Mayer of the USA won the women’s and men’s gold medals respectively. Crabb will aim to retain his title this year with Tri Bourne.

Where can I watch?

The FIVB YouTube channel is your best bet, where you’ll be able to watch the semifinals and the bronze and gold medal matches live.

That’s not all, folks

If you want to immerse yourself in even more beach volleyball action, then there’s one-star action in the Philippines taking place between 23-26 May. The host nation has a number of its future stars in line to make their World Tour debuts.

And finally…

Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled on the players’ various social media channels as they give you insight into their adventures in China. Phil Dalhausser has already posted an Instagram story where he’s eating chicken feet for breakfast. Bon appetit.

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