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Knudsen, Fuchs Powell advance in Israel

FIVB Tel Aviv: Knudsen, Fuchs Powell Advance Out of Pool

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TEL AVIV, Israel – It was almost three months ago that Melissa Fuchs Powell began the scouting process: Who would want to go to Doha for the final FIVB of the season, a one-star in the middle of November?

It’s tough enough to find anyone willing to play a tournament at the end of the season, much less pull a female halfway across the world to a country that is historically a bit lagging when it comes to women’s rights.  

Against all odds, she found a partner, Delaney Knudsen, who had a gap in her coaching schedule at Pepperdine and could make the trip work. And then, of course, as it goes with the best laid plans, the event for the women was canceled.

“I was actually kinda stoked,” Knudsen admitted, because the week preceding the Doha event, it had been recently announced that Israel would be hosting an FIVB for the first time in history, in Tel Aviv.

Knudsen and Fuchs Powell are members of the same church. To play volleyball while simultaneously getting to explore the origins of Christianity?

They’d be just fine switching the schedule.

“I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to see Israel and compete on the international stage,” Knudsen said. “And it has fulfilled and exceeded all expectations thus far.”

It has exceeded expectations on virtually all levels. On the court, Knudsen and Fuchs Powell qualified, making it Knudsen’s first main draw appearance in an FIVB and Fuchs Powell’s second.

On Thursday in Tel Aviv, they extended their run, advancing out of pool with a win over Sweden’s Sofia Ogren and Sofia Wahlen, 21-23, 21-13, 15-10.  

“I’ve been to one-stars before, and I think this is way tougher competition because Israel is such a nice place,” Fuchs Powell said. “It brings really competitive people, like Russia’s [Alexandra Moiseeva and Ekaterina Syrtseva] today, who competes in four-stars. Winning here is more fulfilling than winning in my past one-stars because there are better teams. It’s just been really fun playing with such a high-level blocker.”

In the ninth-place match, they’ll see Anita Dave and Sofia Starikov, a home Israeli team. It will take two wins to put them into the semifinals, where they will have a shot at the podium, which has been Fuchs Powell’s goal since day one of this season.  

“I don’t play against the toughest competition in the U.S. because I’m not there yet, so coming to play against all the tough teams around the world is really good experience,” she said.

On the men’s side, Travis Mewhirter and Tim Brewster, making main draw in their first tournament as partners, dropped their opening pool play match to Poland’s Martin Chiniewicz and Michal Korycki, 16-21, 14-21. They’ll also play Israel on Friday morning, where they will need to win to advance out of pool.

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