Talita Da Rocha Antunes waves to the Campinas crowd after Brazil moved into the final four
Campinas, Brazil, May 30, 2013 - Brazil's Maria Antonelli and Talita Da Rocha Antunes made the noisy centre-court Campinas crowd happy by qualifying for the women's final four with a 2-0 (22-20, 21-14) win against Germany's Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler at the end of day two of the inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball World Cup Final.
They won a close first set and kept the pressure on Germany with some strong defensive plays to win the second more comfortably. The result meant the pair topped pool A ahead of Germany and set them up with a final four meeting against Australia's Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy.
"It was a good result," said Brazil's Talita. "The Germans were a strong pair and we have already lost to them, but we started the game well."
Despite their two-set win, partner Maria Elisa still looked ahead to Brazil's final-four meeting against Australia with caution: "We never played against this pair. They are a new and tall team that are developing a lot."
Australia's Bawden and Clancy earned second spot in pool B after beating Russia 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) in a close deciding match, with Bawden highlighting her partner's performance as a crucial factor in victory. "Taliqua brought out some really great plays, found the right moments to hit high off the top of the block, then using finesse to hit great zones near the sidelines. It made it really hard for them to know which area of the court to take away from her. That was definitely key to our success."
Their match against Brazil is the second in the final four, scheduled for 14:30 (local time) on Friday and 20-year-old Clancy is looking forward to the match-up. "I watched them play when I started playing beach volleyball and looking up to them, so it'll be good to compete against them, it's pretty exciting."
The first final-four match on court, starting at 13:30, is between second seeds April Ross and Jennifer Kessy from the United States and Germany's Holtwick and Semmler. Ross and Kessy had to recover a first-set deficit in their opening match of the day against Russia, but came through 2-0 (23-21, 21-15), and their final pool opponents, Italy's Greta Cicolari and Viktoria Orsi Toth, were an injury default, so they could sit back and relax while Holtwick and Semmler battled through their match against Brazil.
Despite the extra exercise and the defeat, Semmler was happy about the high technial level of the Brazilian workout while partner Holtwick looked ahead to their final-four match with the USA, specifically the memory of a 2-1 (21-15, 23-25, 15-13) win against them in the third round at the Fuzhou Open, China in April. "They are a strong team, we played them once this year and we won so we have chances, but we still have to play our best beach volleyball."
In the men's draw, Brazil's Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego got the happy Campinas crowd singing and dancing as they remained unbeaten in pool A in the men's draw with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) win against Venezuela's Jackson Henriquez and Leonard Alexis Colina.
Latvia's Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins also maintained their unbeaten pool A record with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-10) victory against Switzerland's Sebastian Chevallier and Mats Kovatsch. Afterwards Plavins was already focussing on the pool A re-match with Alison-Emanuel, after the Brazilian pair beat them 2-0 (21-15, 22-20) in the semi-finals at the 2012 Olympic Games.
"I think the match against Brazil will be very tough, because they are playing at home. I don't want to lose with 10 points only, so we will do our best, we will try to win, if not we will try to play a good game," said Plavins.
In pool B Canada's seventh seeds Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk, who came within a few points of beating Germany on day one of the tournament, claimed a 2-0 (21-15, 22-20) victory against top seeds Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson from the USA. "It's about time we won a close one," said Saxton. "We've come really close a bunch of times lately, so it's nice to actually get a win against a good team."
"It's about making those plays at the end of the match," said partner Schalk on the win. "This match we made huge plays when we needed, we were down in the second [set], Ben made a few blocks I made a few digs and we crawled back into it. Yesterday we had a couple of opportunities to take it from Germany and we let them off the hook, in this one we took it away from the US."
Third seeds Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany won their only match of the day 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) against Norway's Geir Eithun and Iver Andreas Horrem to top the pool on four points, leaving a three-way tie in second place between Canada, USA and Norway on all on three points.
The pool stage of the men's draw will conclude on Friday, with first matches on court at 09:00.