Stare Jablonki, Poland, August 16, 2012 – Spain’s Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez won their two matches on Thursday at the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam to make it through to the second knockout round, where they will face Olympic silver medallists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross of the USA.
In the first match they wrapped up second place in their pool with a 21-13, 20-22, 16-14 win over The Netherlands’ Michelle Stiekema and Rimke Braakman. Then in their second they beat Switzerland’s Tanja Goricanec and Muriel Graessli 22-20, 21-11.
“Not a bad day,” Baquerizo said. “This morning was a big win because it meant we would be second in the group. Yesterday we lost to Juliana and Larissa, but this was another good win. Now was a good win too because it gives us another ninth (place finish) on the World Tour.”
The fact that they kept the first knockout round match against Goricanec and Graessli to two sets came as some relief to the pair who have faced a punishing schedule in the past couple of weeks. As well as the World Tour events they also made their Olympic debut at London 2012. There they reached the first knockout round before they lost to Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari.
“We have played three sets so many times and in the Olympics we played three sets,” Liliana said. “It was a good fight against two good players.”
Second seeds Cicolari and Menegatti also made it through to the second knockout round after they won in the first knockout round. They defeated Australia’s Tamsin Hinchley and Louise Bawden 21-14, 21-14 to set up a match against Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland.
They had to go through the first knockout round after they lost their opening pool match to Germany’s Geeske Banck and Kira Walkenhorst, but recovered to secure second place in the pool with win over Greece’s Maria Tsiartsiani and Vasiliki Arvaniti, and Belgium’s Liesbeth Mouha and Katrien Gielen.
“It’s been good, apart from our first match,” Cicolari said. “We were a bit weary at the start, but since then we have had three good matches. At the start there was some tension, but once we got back into it, we started to forget about it and played our game.”
Olympic gold medallist Kerri Walsh and her new partner Nicole Branagh, Kessy and Ross and Olympic bronze medallists Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca all made it straight through to the second knockout round with three wins from three in pool play. The second knockout round and quarterfinals take place on Friday.
The Mazury Orlen Grand Slam is the ninth of nine mixed gender tournaments on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour and the 10th women’s tournament of the year. The winning side will leave with the largest share from a pot of $300,000 per gender.
The women’s calendar is set to culminate with the Bang Saen Thailand Open powered by PTT in Thailand which runs from October 23-28.