Germany's Sarah Schneider and Lara Schreiber play Russia in the semifinals
Porto, Portugal, July 13, 2013 – USA’s Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes impressed friends and foes by knocking out two title favourites on Saturday to reach the final four of the FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships.
The American girls where not joking when they said that they were going for the gold after they defeated the Polish U21 champions Katarzyna Kociolek and Jagoda Gruszscynska 2-0 (21-16 21-19).
Three hours later they also knocked out Swiss Nina Betschart, the U21 champion in 2012 and 2011, and Nicole Eiholzer, also in straight sets (21-17 21-15).
Hughes and Claes knew they were playing against big teams, but decided not to let that effect their game.
“I was a little nervous”, Claes said. “I have been nervous the whole tournament because this is my first U19, but I just tried to think of them as just another team. Nothing different, nothing special.”
“It has been a phenomenal first U19, it has been an amazing tournament. I have never been out of the country and get to do the sport that I love, it’s awesome.”
Hughes played in youth and junior world champions before, finishing 4th at the U21 last year with Summer Ross.
“But this is my first U19 tournament that I made it past the second round, so Kelly helped me with that one. Overall we had a great day, got back in our rhythm, it was a good day.“
The American girls play Eduarda Santos Lisboa and Taina Silva Bigi in the semifinal on Sunday. The Brazilians, who are still without set loss, defeated USA’s Caputo and Knudsen (21-11 21-14) and Austrian twins Nadine and Teresa Straus (21-13 21-16).
The 14-year old Eduarda already claimed a silver medal this at the U23 in Myslowice, but for Taina this is her first final four.
“I can’t express what I am feeling, but it feels pretty good”, Taina said after their win over Austria.
Germany and Russia in other semifinal
In the other semifinal Germany’s Sarah Schneider and Lara Schreiber meet Russia’s Anna Gorbunova, last year’s bronze medallist, and Nadezda Makroguzova.
The Russians advanced to the final four with three straight wins over Mexico, Italy and Brazil. Germany won the pool on Friday, skipped the first round and booked two straight wins over Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
It is not their first final four, since they won silver last year at the CEV U18 Championships, but Schneider and Schreiber had not been playing well this season before they entered their first U19 World Championships.
But something changed in Porto. “We decided to play with more fun and no pressure and it worked. Fun is the reason why we play volleyball after all”, Schneider said.
They know the Russian team very well. “We won against them last year at the CEV U18 Championships. We will see how it goes. We don’t want to think about the final yet, because we have to play this semi first.”FIVB Beach
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