PRESS RELEASE 27.12.2009

China sweeps titles at Asian Beach Volleyball Championships

China's Xue Chen (L) and Zhang Xi stand on the awarding podium after winning the women's final at the 2009 Asian Beach Volleyball Championships on Saturday

Haikou, China, December, 26, 2009 - Hosts China won both the men's and women's titles at the 2009 Asian Beach Volleyball Championships at Holiday Beach in Haikou, capital of China's southern island province of Hainan, on Saturday.

Olympic bronze medal winners Xue Chen/Zhang Xi outpowered fellow Chinese Jin Jieqiong and Yue Yuan 21-18, 21-11 in 40 minutes to win the women's title and prize money of $10,000.

The four-time SWATCH FIVB World Tour winners only trailled once in the match and at 0-2 down in the first set, they scored four straight points for a 4-2 lead and never looked back. The 2006 Asian Games champions played ever more aggressively in the second set with dips and blocks as they surged from 3-3 to a 13-5 lead and wrapped up the match without any hesitation.

"We have become more mature in our team work throughout the matches these days," said Zhang, reflecting on this tournament being the first competitive appearance together with Xue since the Beijing Olympics. Xue said she is not sure to partner Zhang at the 2010 Asian Games, but expects China to successfully defend their titles.

Xue and Zhang entered the final after beating fifth seed Japanese Mutsumi Ozaki and Ayumi Kusano 21-7 and 21-8 in the semifinals in 28 minutes in the morning while Jin Jieqiong and Yue Yuan eliminated another Japanese duo - second-seeded Shinako Tanaka and Sayaka Mizoe 21-17 and 21-14 in 37 minutes to set the showdown with their fellow compatriots.

The two Japanese pairs vied for third place with Ozaki and Kusano claiming the honours thanks to a 21-17, 21-19 victory.

In the men's final, top seeds Wu Penggen and Xu Linyin of China downed sixth seeds Alexey Kulinich and Dmitriy Yakovlev of Kazakhstan 21-11, 21-13.

The 2008 Olympic quarterfinalists established a 4-0 lead before extending it to 17-8 as Xu scored from at least half a dozen blocks in the first set. Following a see-saw battle in the first half of the second set, the Chinese duo enjoyed the upper hand at the net to take a 13-8 lead, and eventually the top prize of $10,000.

Xu and Wu defeated Kazak duo Alexandr Dyachenko and Alexey Sidorenko 21-19 and 21-15 in the first semifinal while Kulinich and Yakovlev rallied from a first set deficit to muscle past second seeds Kentaro Asahi and Katsuhiro Shiratori from Japan 11-21, 21-18 and 15-10 in the other semifinal.

In the men's third-place match, Asahi and Shiratori, who also ranked ninth in the Beijing Olympic Games, defeated Dyachenko and Sidorenko 21-13, 17-21, 15-10 in 50 minutes.

The 2009 Asian Beach Volleyball Championships was the first of its kind in China, and the highest level in Asia, after the Asian Volleyball Confederation signed a five-year plan in June to award Haikou the hosting rights for five years.

The Championships started on December 23, in which 43 teams from 15 countries and regions participated.