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China's Zhang/Xue clinch Asian women's gold, Vanuatu's Iatika/Elwin take silver

Zhang/Xue recovered from a poor semifinal performance to take the gold in straight sets
Haikou, China, November 4, 2012 – China’s Zhang Xi and Xue Chen claimed their fourth AVC Championship title on Sunday in the beautiful Holiday beach at Haikou, China, despite the strong wind and occasional showers.

In the first ever China v Vanuatu final in women’s AVC Beach Volleyball Championship history, they beat Henriette Iatika and Miller Elwin in two sets (21-14, 21-15).

The Vanuatu team, who claimed gold in the 2012 Seoul Challenger this year and finished ninth at the Bangsaen Thailand Open, did not get a lot of chances against the experienced Chinese. They trailed the whole first set, had a slim lead in the second set but gave that away again quickly. Nevertheless, they still made history as the first silver medallists for Vanuatu in the AVC Beach Volleyball Championship. Their success in the last three years has displayed the enormous development that has been achieved on the Pacific archipelago.

“We were desperate to win here,” said Zhang. “As you know, we were not able to get any medal in the London Olympic Games. This Championship is the last tournament of the year and we won gold here every year and we save it till the very end.”

“It was tough, we fought against the weather here and Zhang Xi had some pains in her back,” said Xue. “We reached the final the hard way and, as you noticed, we played really bad this morning and I even feel ashamed of the performance this morning, but we did it.”

Xue dedicated her medal to her mother, with whom she is going on vacation starting next Monday.

The battle for the bronze medal was more exciting, with great rallies and excellent defence by both teams. Bronze medallists at the 2012 FIVB World Junior Championship, Aussies Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy lost the first set to Yue Yuan and Ma Yuanyuan of China 14-21, but came back in the second set 21-12. In the tiebreaker, the Chinese team, who were cheered on by local fans, took the lead again. With some fumbling and stumbling, Yue Yuan and Ma Yuanyuan managed to win the tiebreak 15-9.

“We were really tense in the second set,” Ma Yuanyuan said. “But in the beginning of the third we said: ‘let’s just enjoy all this’.”

Yue Yuan said: “We decided to let every point count, get the ball over the net any way we could. And finally some crazy things started to happen. Although I was still regret about the semi-final in the morning, we were almost there.”

The Chinese duo had lost to top seeded Zhang/Xue earlier that morning in the semifinal, in a tiebreaker (21-12, 16-21, 13-15). After smashing the defending champions in the first set, Yue Yuan and Ma Yuanyuan became too eager to win. Their inexperience cost them the match.

This is the best result Yue Yuan/Ma Yuanyuan have had since they began their partnership in June.

The 2012 AVC Beach Volleyball Championship was the final event on the Women’s 2012 AVC Beach Tour calendar.

Final standings:
1. Zhang/Xue (China)
2. Iatika/Elwin (Vanuatu)
3. Yue Yuan/Ma Yuanyuan (China)
4. Artacho/Clancy (Australia)
5. Ayumi Kusano/ Sayaka Mizoe (Japan)
    Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova (Kazakhstan)
    Jarunee Sannok /Usa Tenpakseee (Thailand)
    Tanarattha Udomchavee and Varapatsorn Radarong (Thailand)
9. Huang Chunmei/Li Ying Li ( China)
    Chui Yi Lo/Hing Ming Chan (Hong Kong)
    Yuen Mei Wong/Tin Lai NG (Hong Kong)
    Sai Feng Hui/Huang ZiI HUI (Singapore)
    Tan Shiang Theng/Chleo Gabrielle Gomes (Singapore)

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