FIVB World Tour Finals
With a $150,000 check on the line for the champion and just 10 teams vying for the title, take a look at the women’s field, which includes teams from seven nations.
Brazil, Canada and Germany boast two pairs each. Germans Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude are the most experienced pairing, having played 88 tournaments together, while top seeded Czechs Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova are next with 43 competitions under their belts.
Six of the 10 teams have won an FIVB title in 2018, including Gstaad Major winners Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan (Canada) and Vienna Major gold medalists Hermannova/Slukova.
Australians Mariafe Artacho del Solar/Taliqua Clancy are the winningest duo of the group, having earned four FIVB golds in 2018. Humana-Paredes/Pavan won two FIVB titles plus the Commonwealth Games gold, while Hermannova/Slukova pocketed two gold medals this year.
The 10 teams will be split into two five-team pools. This is a return to the inaugural format from 2015. Pool play is set for Wednesday through Saturday for the women, with the winners of each pool earning a free pass to the semifinals. The second and third place teams in each pool will play in the quarterfinals.
- Pool A
- Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude (Germany) – The Germans are the longest running duo of the group, having played together on and off since 2013 in 88 tournaments. After placing fifth at the 2017 World Tour Finals, the duo has nabbed six Top 5 finishes, including silver medals at the Gstaad Major (July 15) and Warsaw Four Star (July 1) and a bronze at the Huntington Beach Open (May 6). Laboureur/Sude were fifth at the CEV European Championships and most recently placed fourth at the Moscow Four Star (Aug. 12).
- Maria Antonelli/Carol Solberg Salgado (Brazil) – The Brazilians have been together just over a year, teaming up for the June 2017 Three Star in Moscow. The duo has managed four medals since, including three in 2018: silvers at the Hague Four Star (Jan. 7), Huntington Beach Open (May 6) and Espinho Four Star (July 7). Maria/Carol were fourth at the Itapema Four Star (May 20) and Vienna Major (Aug. 5).
- Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson (Canada) – The Canadians played their first FIVB tournament together at the Sept. 2016 World Tour Finals in Toronto, finishing ninth. Since then, the duo has posted 17 Top 10 finishes, missing just twice. In 2018, their success has included four medals – gold at the Warsaw Four Star (July 1), silver at the Ostrava Four Star (June 24) and bronze at the Itapema Four Star (May 20) and Gstaad Major (July 15). Most recently, the pair stumbled, placing just 25th at the Vienna Major.
- Sanne Keizer/Madelein Meppelink (Netherlands) – The Dutch pair won its lone title since pairing up in June 2017 at the CEV European Championships on July 21. In FIVB events, Keizer/Meppelink have managed two medals – silver at the Mersin Three Star (May 6) and bronze at the Vienna Major (Aug. 5). The pair also boasts four Top 10 finishes, placing ninth at the Itapema Four Star (May 20), Ostrava Four Star (June 24), Warsaw Four Star (July 1) and Moscow Four Star (Aug. 12).
- Sara Hughes/Summer Ross (USA) – Ross/Hughes teamed up in April after Hughes split from college teammate Kelly Claes. The new duo entered nine events, finishing fifth or better five times. The Americans come into the Tour Finals off a gold medal at the Moscow Four Star last week (Aug. 12). The pair also finished third at the Espinho Four Star (July 7). Off the FIVB stage, Hughes/Ross won two AVP titles – in Hermosa Beach (July 29) and New York (June 10). Ross also picked up a bronze medal at the Fort Lauderdale Major in March with former teammate Brooke Sweat.
- Pool B
- Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova (Czech Republic) – The pair comes into Hamburg after winning the Vienna Major crown and finishing third at the CEV European Championships (July 21) and fifth at the Gstaad Major (July 15). The duo, which teamed up in Aug. 2015, won the gold at the Ostrava Four Star on June 24. The Czechs were fifth at the 2017 World Tour Finals.
- Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda ‘Duda’ Santos Lisboa (Brazil) – Agatha/Duda are the lone women’s medalists back from the 2017 World Tour Finals podium, earning silver a year ago. Agatha also collected a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics alongside then partner Barbara Seixas de Freitas. In 2018, the pair, which joined forced in Jan. 2017, has posted three podium finishes: gold at home in Itapema (May 20), silver in Moscow (Aug. 12) and bronze in Warsaw (July 1). Agatha/Duda have been ninth or better in all 10 of their FIVB entries, including fifth or better eight times.
- Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan (Canada) – Since teaming up in May 2017, the Canadians have managed five medals, while also posting four fourth-place efforts. In 2018, the duo, which was fourth at the 2017 World Tour Finals, won the Gstaad Major (July 15), Xiamen Four Star (April 22) and took gold at the Commonwealth Games. Humana-Paredes/Pavan have been among the Top 10 at all but one of the 10 tournaments they entered since March.
- Mariafe Artacho del Solar/Taliqua Clancy (Australia) – The Aussies, which began playing together in October, have won five FIVB medals since then, including golds at the Qinzhou Three Star (Oct. 15), Sydney Two Star (Nov. 26), Lucerne Three Star (May 13) and Espinho Four Star (July 7). The duo also finished third at the Xiamen Four Star (April 22). Outside of FIVB play, the pair picked up a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games.
- Isabel Schneider/Victoria Bieneck (Germany) – The Germans’ best finishes of 2018 were fourth place efforts at the Fort Lauderdale Major (March 4) and Ostrava Four Star (June 24). The duo, which joined forces in Feb. 2017, finished fifth at the CEV European Championship on July 21.
- Two-time defending champions Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany did not compete on the World Tour in 2018 due to both players becoming mothers.
- Brazilians Barbara Seixas de Freitas/Fernanda Alves, who won the Fort Lauderdale Major and finished second in Vienna, were left out of the 10-pair field. The duo participated in just seven events last year, but won two and placed in the top 10 at all of them.
World Tour Finals History
- 2017 – Hamburg, Germany
- Women: Germans Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst won gold followed by Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda ‘Duda’ Santos Lisboa (Brazil) and Larissa Franca/Talita Altunes (Brazil).
- 2016 – Toronto, Canada
- Women: Ludwig/Walkenhorst topped the podium, followed by Swiss pairs Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr and Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre.
- 2015 – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Women: Larissa/Talita (Brazil) – gold; Ludwig/Walkenhorst – silver; Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas de Freitas (Brazil) – bronze