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Vanuatu duo keep on learning, on way to Stavanger main draw
Henriette Iatika and Miller Elwin continued to show their growth as a team on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour as they qualified for the main draw of the Stavanger Grand Slam on Tuesday.
The Vanuatuan pair defeated Australia’s FIVB U23 world champions Mariafe Artacho and Nicole Laird in straight sets 2-0 (21-11, 21-16).
“We’ve played the Australian teams many times and we know each other’s games very well,” Iatika said. “After training this morning we made sure our focus was on this game because we knew we had to win this game.
“This is the second time we reached the main draw this season.”
Iatika and Elwin have been playing on the World Tour since the 2008 Adelaide Open. However, it is only in recent years that the pair have begun to fully establish themselves.
In 2013 they reached the second elimination round at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and this year they have reached the main draw at the Fuzhou Open and the Shanghai Grand Slam.
After Stavanger they head to Germany for a week-long training camp before competing at the Gstaad Grand Slam in Switzerland.
“Last year in the World Championship we gained more experience,” Elwin said. “We’ve improved from then and we are learning a lot.”
In total eight teams made it through to the women’s main draw which begins on Wednesday.
Joining Iatika and Elwin are Jennifer Fopma and Whitney Pavlik, who fought off a tough challenge from Daniela Gioria and Laura Giombini.
The US duo beat the Italians 2-0 (21-17, 24-22).
“The Italians are a great team. We’ve played them twice in two tournaments and it was a battle both times,” Fopma said. “They’ve been playing really well and beaten some tough teams and wouldn’t be giving up.”
It was the third time in three weeks that Fopma and Pavlik have had to go through qualifying to reach the main draw, following a similar path at the Moscow and Berlin Grand Slams.
“There is so much pressure,” Pavlik added. “We are all battling for those spots and it almost turns into the most important match of the week and you have to really stick together.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Stavanger Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 25 through to Sunday June 29. It is the eighth event and the fourth Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Gstaad Grand Slam which runs from July 9-13.