Nantong, China, May 30, 2019 – It was a predictable day of qualifying at the third annual Silk Road Nantong Open here Thursday as the top six-seeded teams in the qualifier at the women’s-only FIVB World Tour event won as expected to advance to the Main Draw pool play rounds.

With two teams expected to compete next month in the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships next month in Germany, the $25,000 Silk Road Nantong Open will feature pool play on Friday to set the field for Saturday’s elimination rounds lead to Sunday’s final four matches where the winning team will split the $4,000 first-place prize.

Already securing spots in the Friday’s schedule due to their FIVB World Tour entry points were Leonie Kortzinger/Sarah Schneider of Germany and Mailen Deliz/Leila Martinez of Cuba, who are seeded provisionally 39th and 40th, respectively, at the 2019 FIVB World Championships that begin on June 28 in Hamburg.

Yurika Sakaguchi/Chiyo Suzuki and Azusa Futami/Akiko Hasegawa of Japan, the top two-seeded teams in the Silk Road Nantong Open qualifier, only had to win one match Thursday along with pairs from Australia and Lithuania.

Top-seeded Sakaguchi/Suzuki eliminated 12th-seeded Esmee Bobner/Zoe Verge-Depre of Switzerland 2-0 (24-22, 21-16) in a 37-minute Main Draw qualifying match while Futami/Hasegawa ousted 10th-seeded Arianna Barboni/Claudia Puccinelli of Italy 2-1 (21-16, 20-22, 16-14) in 48 minutes.

Third-seeded Ieva Dumbauskaite/Irina Zobnina of Lithuania advanced to the Mainn Draw rounds of the Silk Road Nantong Open with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) win in 34 minutes over 15th-seeded Anita Dave/Sofia Starikov of Israel with fourth-seeded netting a Main Draw berth with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-12) win in 29 minutes over ninth-seeded Franziska Friedl/Eva Pfeffer of Austria.

Posting a pair of qualifying wins each on Thursday were fifth-seeded Dimitra Manavi/Konstantina Tsopoulou of Greece and sixth-seeded Aleksandra Gromadowska/Jagoda Gruszczynska of Poland. Both teams won opening qualifying wins Thursday over pairs from host China before eliminating duos from Slovenia and Austria.

Manavi/Tsopoulou gained a spot in the Silk Road Nantong Open Main Draw with a 2-1 (19-21, 21-18, 17-15) qualifying win in 50 minutes over eighth-seeded Tjasa Jancar/Tjasa Kotnik of Slovenia while Gromadowska/Gruszczynska advanced to Thursday’s pool play rounds with a 2-0 (21-19, 22-20) victory in 36 minutes over the Austrian Strauss twins (Nadine and Teresa).

The Silk Road Nantong Open is the first of two back-to-back women’s international beach volleyball events in China as the city located on the northern bank of the Yangtze River stages the sixth of nine FIVB World Tour stops in China during the 2018-2019 season.

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