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Ross and Kessy finding rhythm on way to last eight in Rome

April Ross has happy memories of the Rome Grand Slam having won gold in 2010 and bronze in 2013
Rome, Italy, June 21, 2013 – April Ross and Jennifer Kessy eased into the quarterfinals of the smart Grand Slam – Rome with a straight-sets win over Jennifer Fopma and Brooke Sweat on Friday.

The US pair beat their compatriots 2-0 (21-15, 21-19) to record their fourth win from four at the Foro Italico and set up a clash with Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari.

“I wouldn’t say it was super-rhythm, but it got better with each play and now we’ve played in every court,” Ross said. “I think it is unfortunate when you play USA in an early round and they’re playing really good.

“They’re our practice buddies, so we practice against them all the time. It is nerve-wracking for us because they know us better than anyone else, so I think it goes both ways.”

Ross and Kessy have made a slow start to 2013, but did win the silver medals at the FIVB World Cup Finals. A year ago they won the bronze in Rome, and then followed up by winning silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games and gold at the Bangsaen Open in Thailand. 

With the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships just over a week away, the 2009 world champions are hopeful that they can use the Rome Grand Slam, where they won gold in 2010, to find their best form.

“We love this tournament, this is our favourite tournament and I think it is the same for everybody,” Ross added. “We’d love to get back on (the podium) in any place.

“I think we over-trained in pre-season. So being on the road is rejuvenating for us. We’ve got to rest out here and you go out and compete and it is really exciting. As we go along we’re getting back into competition shape and getting better with each tournament.”

German duo hit stride to reach quarterfinals

Germany’s Karla Borger and Britta Buthe were another pair to make it into the last-eight, though they had to fight hard to see off the challenge of The Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Marleen van Iersel with a 2-1 (25-23, 19-21, 15-12) victory. 

They began in confident mood to win the first set, but the Dutch duo showed typical tenacity to fight back and claim the second set. The two sides then pushed each other to the limits in the tie-break, but the German’s built a lead from 10-10 on and while Keizer and Van Iersel saved one match-point, Buthe won the match with the second.

“We started ok, but in our first games weren’t our best and we didn’t really get into the tournament,” Borger said. “Being third in the pool means you probably didn’t play so well and so we decided to forget about the pool and focus on how we normally play. We tried it in the last two games and it worked. It is unbelievable.

“It is always tough. Our reception wasn’t the best and so you don’t feel a lot of confidence, but still you have to play. 

“I don’t know what happened in the second because we had it under control, but it happened very quickly. In the third set still it was a bit nervy, there were a lot of two points for them and two points for us. There were a lot of good balls for us and I hope it was good to watch.”

The Rome Grand Slam is the fourth Grand Slam of 10 on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. The competition runs from June 17 until June 23, when both the men’s and women’s finals take place. 

Following the Rome Grand Slam, the world’s leading players take a week’s break before the start of the ninth FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Stare Jablonki from July 1-7. After the World Championships are completed the World Tour resumes the following week at the Gstaad Grand Slam in the Swiss Alps. 

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