All-Australian clash to kick off beach World Championships

The 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships begin on Friday in Vienna, with the two Australian women’s teams not only drawn in the same group, but set to play each other on the opening day.

Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy, fifth at last year’s Rio Olympics and Australia’s highest ranked team, will take on fellow Rio Olympian, Nicole Laird, and her new partner, Jessyka Ngauamo, on Friday evening, Australian time.

Bawden, a three-time Olympian, and Clancy have continued their strong Olympic form on the 2017 tour, and will be looking to build on their fifth placing at the 2015 World Championships.

The World Championships will be the biggest tournament so far for the new pairing of Laird and Ngauamo, although both have played at previous World Championships with Mariafe Artacho del Solar, Laird’s partner at the Rio Olympics.

Also in the Australians’ group are experienced American pair, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick, and China’s Chen Xue, a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, and Xinxin Wang.

The Australian men’s pair of Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh will begin their 2017 World Championship campaign on Saturday, when they take on Russia’s Oley Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin, gold medallists at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.

Also in their group are the 2016 Olympic silver medallists, Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo, and Sierra Leone’s Patrick Lombi and Abu Bakarr Kamara.