Kristiansand, Norway, August 10, 2007 - One team’s “disappointment” was another Beach Volleyball tandem’s “delight” here Friday afternoon as China’s Jia Tian and Jie Wang regained their “final four” form with a semi-final-qualifying win over a Norwegian pair in the US$350,000 Otera Open.
Seeded third in the inaugural SWATCH-FIVB World stop in the southern coast resort town, Tian and Wang rebounded from their lowest finish of the 2007 international Beach Volleyball season to advance to their ninth semi-final appearance in 13 starts this year with a 21-17 and 22-20 victory in 44 minutes over ninth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway.
In an All-German semi-final qualifying match, the European country netted the fourth and final semi-final berth as fourth-seeded Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau eliminated 10th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich 24-22 and 22-20 in 39 minutes.
Earlier Friday, the top-two-seeded teams in the Otera Open earned “final four” berths as Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca of Brazil and Chen Xue/Xi Zhang of China advanced to Saturday’s semi-finals with wins over Pohl/Rau and Tian/Wang, respectively.
Saturday’s first semi-final will have Juliana and Larissa playing Tian and Wang while Xue and Zhang face the Germans. The Otera Open medal matches will be played Saturday afternoon when the final two teams compete for the $30,000 first-place prize. The 10th of 13 double gender events this season on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the Otera Open concludes Sunday with the men’s semi-finals and medal matches.
Juliana and Larissa will be meeting Tian and Wang for the 10th- time on the SWATCH circuit with the Brazilians leading 5-4. In the last meeting between the two teams, the Chinese defeated Juliana and Larissa in the semi-finals at the SWATCH-FIVB World Championships last month in Switzerland.
Xue and Chen have won the four previous matches with the Germans, including a pool play win last week in the Austrian Grand slam. The Chinese pair placed fourth in Klagenfurt after losing the bronze medal match to Germany’s Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig.
Tian and Wang, who finished 17th in last week’s Austrian stop where the Chinese were eliminated by Pohl and Rau, have now won seventh-straight SWATCH matches with Hakedal and Torlen. The two teams competed for a SWATCH gold medal in the 2007 FIVB season opener in Shanghai with Tian and Wang winning 14-21, 21-18 and 15-13 to claim their third international title together.
“We are sorry that we spoiled Nila Ann’s homecoming,” said Tian, “but we needed this win to get back into the grove after a terrible finish last week. We did not play well earlier today, but rebounded with a steady game against a good Norwegian team. The crowd was great and really supported their team. This is a great venue and site for Beach Volleyball.”
Pohl and Rau earned their first “final four” berth this season and the fifth of partnership (70 events) in defeating their German rivals for the second-time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. The first international meeting was two years ago in Norway at the Stavanger grand slam stop.
The top-seeded Juliana and Larissa reached their ninth semi-final this season in 10 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour starts by defeating Pohl and Rau 21-17 and 21-15 in 43 minutes. Xue and Zhang out-lasted Tian and Wang 21-16 and 30-28 in 45 minutes. It was Chen and Zhang’s fourth win in 15 SWATCH meetings with Tian and Wang.