Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Taliqua Clancy – Australia (7)
Artacho: 37th (2013), 17th (2015)
Clancy: 17th (2013), 5th (2015), 17th (2017)
Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings – United States (13)
Sweat: 17th (2013), 5th (2015), 5th (2017)
Walsh Jennings: 9th (2001), 1st (2003), 1st (2005), 1st (2007), 2nd (2011), 9th (2015)
Joy Stubbe/Marleen van Iersel – Netherlands (28)
van Iersel: 5th (2009), 9th (2011), 9th (2013), 9th (2015), 17th (2017)
Maita Cousin/Letendrie Marie – Mauritius (47)
Fresh from winning yet another World Tour gold, Australians Mariafe and Taliqua head to Hamburg as genuine title contenders. The pair finished third at last year’s World Tour Finals at the Rothenbaum and have all the tools to improve on that. The Volleyroos won’t have it all their own way in Pool G, especially one containing Kerri Walsh Jennings. Together with Brooke Sweat, the former three-time champion will be aiming to make up for lost time as she makes her first appearance at the finals since 2015. Dutch duo Joy and Marleen have a blend of youth and experience and have already shown their credentials on the World Tour, while debutants Maita and Letendrie will be flying the flag for Mauritius and will be out to learn from the experience at a major championship.
Look no further than the final pool match between Taliqua and Mariafe and Kerri and Brooke. The two teams have met three times this season, twice in the Jinjiang four-star – both of which the Americans won. The second match was the final. This game on the Red Bull Beach Arena has all the makings of a thriller. Monday, July 1, at 6pm. Red Bull Beach Arena.
Kerri Walsh Jennings will aim to make history by winning her fourth World Championship. Three of them came in succession between 2003 and 2007 with Misty May Treanor. Walsh Jennings missed the Vienna championships through injury and has only made one World Championship appearance since 2011.
Madelein Meppelink/Sanne Keizer – Netherlands (8)
Meppelink: 37th (2011), 17th (2013), 9th (2015), 17th (2017)
Keizer: 17th (2005), 37th (2007), 5th (2009), 9th (2011), 9th (2013)
Tanja Hüberli/Nina Betschart – Switzerland (16)
Team: 9th (2017)
Hüberli: 33rd (2013), 17th (2015), 9th (2017)
Betschart: 9th (2017)
Nicole Laird/Becchara Palmer – Australia (35)
Laird: 17th (2015), 37th (2017)
Palmer: 37th (2009), 9th (2011)
Dooa Elghobashy/Randa Radwan – Egypt (46)
A potentially open group is led by last season’s star turns from the Netherlands, Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink. Between them, the pair have the experience of nine World Championships appearances – but this will be their first together. The reigning European Champions face competition from consistent Swiss pair Tanja and Nina who have yet to break into the top 5 of a tournament since October. Australians Nicole and Becchara won a three-star in Sydney back in March but have struggled in tougher competition since. Dooa Elghobashy played at the Rio Olympics and can use her experience to good use, even though she is just 22, alongside teammate Randa Radwan.
In the last round of pool play matches, make sure to pop along to watch the all-European clash between Meppelink/Keizer and Hüberli/Betschart. It’s a repeat of last year’s European Championship final that the Dutch won in straight sets. Tuesday, July 2, at 11am. Side court 2.
Dooa Elghobashy came to prominence at the Rio 2016 Olympics by becoming the first beach volleyball player to take to the court wearing a head scarf. She became an inspiration for Muslim women, especially those in sports. It led to one of the most iconic photographs from the 2016 Games when she challenged Kira Walkenhorst at the net in their pool play match.
Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes – Canada (9)
Team: 4th (2017)
Pavan: 17th (2013), 5th (2015), 4th (2017)
Humana-Paredes: 9th (2015), 4th (2017)
Sarah Sponcil/Kelly Claes – United States (14)
Claes: 9th (2017)
Ekaterina Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova – Russia (27)
Team: 17th (2011), 9th (2013), 9th (2015), 33rd (2017)
Birlova: 37th (2009), 17th (2011), 9th (2013), 9th (2015)
Ukolova:37th (2009), 17th (2011), 9th (2013), 9th (2015)
Yuli Ayala/Diana Rios – Colombia (41)
Sarah and Melissa will want to put the frustration of a fourth place finish in Vienna two years ago behind them when they set foot on the Hamburg sand again. The Canadians have become one of the world’s top teams since forming in 2017, winning eight medals together – including silver in Brazil in the lead-up to Hamburg. Young Americans Sarah and Kelly could be best placed to challenge for top spot in the pool but don’t rule out the Russians who return to the World Championships as a team for the first time since 2015. Colombians Yuli and Diana face a tough test on their championship debut but that could play into their hands with knowledge on the pair scarce.
It’s difficult to ignore the North American clash between Canada and the USA here. In what could the battle to win the pool, expect some high-quality volleyball between two talented tandems. Tuesday, July 2, at 12 noon. Side court 2.
Birlova/Ukolova will make their fourth appearance as a pair at a World Championships but their first since finishing ninth in The Hague in 2015. They also finished ninth in 2013 and 17th together in Rome in 2011.