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Spanish qualifiers defy odds to reach last four

Angela Lobato Herrero is set to play in her first World Tour semifinal
Anapa, Russia, May 30, 2014 – Angela Lobato Herrero and Paula Soria Gutierrez continued their remarkable run at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Anapa Open by reaching the last four on Friday.

The Spanish pair began the week in the qualifying tournament, but having battled through to the quarterfinals they set up a semifinal meeting with German pair Victoria Bieneck and Julia Grossner after a 2-0 (21-16, 23-21) win over the Czech Republic’s Martina Bonnerova and Barbora Hermannova.

The other semifinal is an all-Russian affair between Evgenia Ukolova and Maria Prokopeva and Ekaterina Syrtseva and Alexandra Shiryaeva.

“We can’t believe it,” Lobato Herrero said. “We came here for qualification and wanted to reach the main draw, but didn’t expect to go so far. 

“Our side-out was very good and we kept them pressured with our serve. We also made sure we stayed concentrated.”

Bieneck and Grossner recorded an impressive result to reach the last four by knocking out Chen Xue one half of the current FIVB Beach Volleyball world champions and her current partner Xinyi Xia. 

The German pair, who have been partners since 2011 won in straights sets, 2-0 (21-18, 21-18).

“This season we have had many close matches against tough teams that we didn’t win,” Bieneck said. “Today we stayed focused for two sets and served very well and while there was a little bit of wind we used it for our advantage.”

Their previous best World Tour finish came at the 2013 Corrientes Grand Slam, where they reached the quarterfinals, though Bieneck has is the current U23 world champion and won the U19 version in 2009. 

“That is something different,” Bieneck said. “The World Tour is where you develop and get better. It was a great experience to win the U23 World Championships and I am still happy about it, but this is also an amazing result.”

The double-gender US$150,000 FIVB Anapa Open in Russia runs from Tuesday, May 27 through to Sunday June 1 and the top three teams in each gender receive 250, 225 and 200 world ranking points. It is the fifth event and the fourth Open on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar, which features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.

The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Moscow Grand Slam which runs from June 11-15. 

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