BPT Challenge Itapema - NEDvsUSA_9301

Ranked first in the world, the Dutch will play a duo from Lithuania in their opening match in Doha

World ranking leaders Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon are set for a challenging debut at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Doha, Qatar, as the Dutch will start their campaign at the Al Gharafa Beach Courts against Lithuanians Erika Kliokmanaite and Monika Paulikiene.

Stam, 23, and Schoon, 20, have made it to the gold medal match at each of the three Challenge and Elite16 Beach Pro Tour events to date, taking gold at the Rosarito Elite16 and silver at the Tlaxcala and Itapema Challenge tournaments. Their excellent run of form has taken them to the top of the FIVB World Rankings.

Partnering for the first time in international beach volleyball in Doha, Kliokmanaite, 37, and Paulikiene, 27, were the sensations of Thursday’s qualifier. Ranked 23rd, the two players defied the odds to make it to the main draw after a two-set (24-22, 25-23) win over Austrian sisters Dorina and Ronja Klinger and a three-set (19-21, 22-20, 15-13) victory against French pair Aline Chamereau and Clemence Vieira.

The two other teams in Pool A are Americans Corinne Quiggle and Sarah Schermerhorn and Polish pair Kinga Wojtasik and Katarzyna Kociolek, who after splitting at the end of last season decided to reunite again for a few weeks and try to qualify for next month’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship in Rome.

· All the matches in Doha are available to watch live or on demand on Volleyball TV.

Tokyo bronze medallists Joana Heidrich/Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland will play another team coming from the qualifier, Canadians Alina Dormann and Amanda Harnett, while Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho of Australia will face Anouk’s younger sister Zoe and her partner Esmee Bobner.

Several women’s teams will be making their first appearances in the main draw of a Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Doha. Among them are Spanish Paula Soria and Sofia Gonzalez, who joined forces ahead of the 2022 season and advanced with a 2-1 (21-12, 26-28, 15-11) victory over Danish team Sofia Bisgaard and Clara Windeleff after failing to progress in Tlaxcala in March.

Soria González vs. Windeleff Bisgaard - Match Highlights

Playing together for the first time, Finnish Taru Lathi and Niina Ahtiainen also moved forward, as did Chile’s Francisca Rivas/Chris Vorpahl, Norway’s Sunniva Helland-Hansen/Emilie Olimstad, Slovenia’s Tjasa Kotnik/Tajda Lovsin and France’s Lezana Placette/Alexia Richard.