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Nicole & Megan celebrate in Kuşadası

The line-up for Saturday’s elimination stage of the Kuşadası Challenge women’s tournament on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour is now complete. The ladies taking part in Friday’s pool play practically rendered the seeding irrelevant and produced plenty of upsets, setting the stage for more interesting knockout battles in the rounds to come.

Saturday’s programme will start with the two matches of the Round of 18, followed by the eighth-finals and the quarterfinals, with the four semifinalists emerging at the end of the day.

· All the matches of the Kuşadası Challenge will be available to watch live or on demand on Volleyball TV.

In fact, none of the six seeding leaders managed to win their pools. Instead, one of the teams arriving at the main draw from Thursday’s qualifiers, Canadian twins Nicole McNamara and Megan McNamara, topped Pool B on the wings of a couple of tie-breaker wins over higher-seeded opponents. In their first main draw game, Nicole and Megan came back from a set down to deliver a 2-1 (18-21, 21-15, 15-11) victory over USA’s Corinne Quiggle and Sarah Schermerhorn. In the pool final, the Canadians grabbed an even tighter win over second-seeded Germans Chantal Laboureur and Sarah Schulz, 2-1 (24-22, 19-21, 15-13). The Americans also advanced as the third-placed team in the pool.

Nicole McNamara’s top plays against Laboureur & Schulz

Belen Carro and Angela Lobato followed a similar path in Pool D, but they survived first-set damages in both of their matches. In their opening game, the Spaniards celebrated a narrow escape to defeat Poland’s Kinga Wojtasik and Katarzyna Kociolek by 2-1 (17-21, 25-23, 15-8). Once they lost the first set of the pool final against Norway’s Sunniva Helland-Hansen and Emilie Olimstad, Carro and Lobato were more emphatic in the next two to claim another tie-breaker win, 2-1 (16-21, 21-16, 15-10). Interestingly, all four matches of that pool went to three sets and produced turnarounds in the lead, with fourth-seeded Germans Cinja Tillmann and Svenja Muller catching the last train to the next phase with a 2-1 (22-24, 21-16, 15-9) win over the Poles in the third-place game.

15th-seeded Barbora Hermannova and Marie-Sara Stochlova were the lowest ranked team to win their pool in Kusadasi. The Czechs cruised through Pool C with straight-set victories over Brazil’s Taina Bigi and Victoria Lopes by 2-0 (21-13, 21-12) and third-seeded Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar by 2-0 (21-16, 21-16). Victoria and Taina managed a hard-earned 2-1 (25-23, 18-25, 17-15) victory over France’s Aline Chamereau and Clemence Vieira to finish third in the pool and stay in contention.

“It has been a tough battle. We lost the first match, but we came back and won the second. We hope that we can keep progressing in the competition tomorrow and maybe reach the gold medal,” Taina told Volleyball World. “We are really excited about this tournament. It is our first time in this beautiful city and we are so glad to be here.”

Barbora Hermannova’s aces against Clancy & Mariafe

Top-seeded Elize Maia and Thamela Coradello suffered at the hands of Brandie Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec in the Pool A winners’ match. After delivering a 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) victory over Netherlands’ Emma Piersma and Mexime van Driel, the Canadian pair mastered a 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) shutout of the Brazilians to top the pool standings. The third place went to Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre.

Qualifiers Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss had to deal with two German teams in Pool E. First, the Americans upset fifth-seeded Karla Borger and Julia Sude in straight sets, but then narrowly lost the tight battle with Sandra Ittlinger and Isabel Schneider for the top, 2-0 (24-22, 21-19). Borger and Sude made it to the next phase as the third-placed team.

Kloth & Nuss v Ittlinger & Schneider: Match Highlights

Pool E action offered a hard-fought all-American final. After losing the first set in the overtime, Terese Cannon and Sarah Sponcil bounced back to claim a 2-1 (22-24, 21-19, 15-12) victory over Emily Stockman and Megan Kraft. Sixth-seeded Turks Merve Celebi and Bahanur Gokalp failed to please the home crowd with a win and lost both of their games in the pool in straight sets to drop out of contention, and let Italians Margherita Bianchin and Claudia Scampoli through.