FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championship

Press release

Three would be a charm for China’s Chen Xue

Chen Xue (left) is aiming for a third Olympic Games with a new partner, Xinyi Xia

Sochi, Russia, July 7, 2016 – With two straight wins on Thursday the Chinese women showed their strength at the FIVB World Continental Cup in Sochi. If they follow through and claim one of the two available Olympic tickets on Sunday, Rio would be the third Olympic Games for 27-year old Chen Xue.

The Fuzhou resident is the only one out of the four Chinese players with Olympic experience, and she has been very successful. With her former partner Zhang Xi she won bronze in Beijing in 2008 and finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Rio would be the icing on the cake, the 2013 world champion said.

“For me it would be very special, because it’s only thirty days to Rio and I would still qualify. That’s the difference with the other two.” “And second, I play with a new partner now and I changed to the right. I used to play on the left side. So everything is new to me and everything is a challenge. And for Xia this would be fantastic, because she is so young, she’s only 19. And this is her dream.”

After winning the World Championships in 2013 Zhang Xi retired and Chen Xue found a new partner in Xinyi Xia. They won the Phuket and Durban Open in 2013, but from mid 2014 Chen Xue was sidelined with an ankle and shoulder injury.

She came back in 2016, but the pair didn’t have enough starting points to qualify through the World Tour Olympic Ranking. Their last World Tour tournament this year was the Cincinnati Open (silver) and after that they just focussed on training for the Continental Cup.

Chen Xue: “Even if, after Cincinnati, we would win the gold in Moscow and Germany we wouldn’t have enough points for the Olympic ranking.” They missed the qualifying opportunity through the Asian Continental Cup, losing to Vanuatu in the semis, but made it to Sochi with third place.

On their first match day in Russia the Chinese defeated Paraguay and Mexico. Xue and Xia were too strong for Paraguay’s Erika and Pati (21-11, 21-13) and Chunxia Chen and Ningya Tang defeated Michelle and Filippo (21-13, 21-19).

In the afternoon Chen and Tang beat Rios and Santoyo of Mexico (21-16, 21-16), but Xue and Xia had a tough one against Estrada and Orellana (22-20, 21-13).

There is room for improvement Xue commented on their first day. “Our second match against Mexico was a bit of a challenge actually. The first set was really close, we made a lot of mistakes with our serve and side-out.”

Nonetheless the Chinese are now leading pool A together with host country Russia, who is also still undefeated after a hard fought win over the Czech Republic.

Ukolova and Barsuk won the three-setter against Slukova and Hermannova (18-21, 21-19, 15-13) and Birlova and Makroguzova claimed victory with a 21-13, 21-17 win over Kolocova and Kvapilova.

Austria still strong in pool B
In pool B Austria strengthened their top position with a second win, 2-0 against Colombia. Stefanie Schwaiger and Barbara Hansel were challenged by Diana Rios and Yuli Ayala, but won the deciding tiebreak (16-21, 21-18, 15-11) and Katharina Schützenhöfer and Lena Plesiutschnig booked a solid 21-17, 21-14 win over Andrea and Claudia Galindo.

Vanuatu is right behind the Austrians with one out of one. The runners-up from the AVC Continental Cup final defeated Ukraine in their first match of the tournament, but needed a golden set to claim victory.

Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata, who finished fourth this year at the Fortaleza Open, defeated Inna and Iryna Makhno 21-15, 21-17, but youngsters Loti Joe and Sherysyn Toko lost 21-9, 21-11 to Valentyna Davidova and Ievgeniia Schchypkova.

For the golden set the Ukraine coaches sent one of the twins, Inna, out on the sand with blocker Schchypkova, but they were no match for Matauatu and Pata: 15-6. “We are really happy we won this first match. This was a good victory for us”, Matauatu said.

Matauatu and Pata came within touching distance from the Rio Olympics twice before. They missed out of qualifying through the World Tour Olympic ranking by just a couple of points and then lost to Australia in the final of the ACV Continental Cup Olympic Qualifier.

Matauatu and Pata are regulars on the FIVB World Tour since 2011, but youngsters Joe (19) and Toko (18) only made their FIVB debut this year at the U21 World Champs, where they finished 17th.

Matauatu and Pata – and maybe the whole country - are counting on the juniors to pull through for them, despite their young age and lack of experience. Matauatu: “If we make it to the Rio we will be the first women team to go to the Olympics.” And maybe some day Joe and Toko will be the second.

Quick links:
FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification - Website
Men - Results/Schedule
Women - Results/Schedule

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