Locals Wang Fan/Yue Y. enter Fuzhou Open semifinal
In its third consecutive year, the FIVB Fuzhou Open is the first double-gender FIVB Open event of the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar with a prize purse of US$150,000.
Local attention is now fully concentrated Wang Fan/Yue Y. as the only Chinese pair left in the competition following the unfortunate withdrawal of 2013 Fuzhou champion Chen Xue due to injury.
Wang Fan/Yue Y. earned their position in the semifinal along with Germany’s Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude, Jamie Lyn Broder/Kristina Valjas from Canada and 2014 Fuzhou Open gold medallists USA’s Kerri Walsh/April Ross.
In the quarter final Wang Fan/Yue Y. faced Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan from Canada. China took hold of the match to begin with more than a couple of Chinese points down to Wang Fan’s skill at the net. Bansley/Pavan unfazed by the Chinese support sent Wang Fan/Yue Y. flying around the court, but two big Chinese blocks ended the first set.
Multiple long rallies in the second tested both teams fitness to the limit with Pavan’s great mid court giving the advantage to Canada at the halfway mark. With the score at 19-19, Yue Y. put her serve into the net followed by a great point just over the net, followed by a big hit that landed out. China finally closed the match 2-0 (21-18, 23-21) from Wang Fan’s serve, progressing to the semifinal where they will play Laboureur/Sude.
“We had played against them once before, when we were training in the US last winter. They beat us then. Sarah Pavan is very tall, so they hold an edge at the net. But, actually, you can see that her blocking was not very effective today. I think, we found a solution to beat them,” said Yue Y.
“Our coach asked us to play a fast game. We did exactly what he told us, and I think I played better in attacking,” said Wang Fan.
“We just focused on our own game. We were resolute throughout the match, never showed hesitance. We could have sealed the victory earlier. But we missed out on a good opportunity. Fortunately, we kept cool minded and eventually closed it out,” said Yue Y.
First semifinal for Broder/Valjas
Despite coming close at the 2014 Parana Open, Broder/Valjas enter their first FIVB final four after beating fellow Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes/Taylor Pischke in a tightly fought contest. After a first set that was going in the direction of Broder/Valjas, Humana-Paredes/Pischke stepped up the pace in the second and took the match into a tie break.
Broder/Valjas remained focused to close down the win over the higher seeded Canadian team 2-1 (21-16, 20-22, 15-13).
“They are an awesome team and we definitely have our country rivalry, but either way it was a win and I’m glad that we came out on top today. I am feeling so good, Jamie played so well. She took most of the serves that came at her and it was a battle but she pulled us through for sure,” said Valjis.
“I think the key was just teamwork throughout that match because there were points where we were down two or three and worked back to stay even and that was all just the composure of our play and our mentality so staying strong, not giving up and playing one point at a time,” said Broder.
“This is our first time in the semifinals ever so we are so excited to be there, we definitely feel like the underdogs, we have nothing to lose so we are going to play that way,” said Valjis.
“This is what we’ve been working towards, this whole off season wanting to be in this exact position so from here really it’s just playing our hearts out and loving every minute of it,” said Broder.
It is also Humana-Paredes/Pischke best FIVB Open result so far and the partners were pleased about their win over USA’s Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat in their round two match of the morning 2-0 (21-16, 21-13).
“This is our best result so far at an open and our first tournament of the year so it’s been a really good start to the summer and we’re really excited about how we’re playing,” Humana-Paredes.
“This is our first winter where we actually trained in beach. We used to play indoor, so I think that it is really helping us so far that we’ve had such good off season training and that will help contribute to our success going forward,” said Pischke.
The Fuzhou Open is held at the purpose built venue in the city’s Mianjiang Riverside Park. China has hosted a total of 49 FIVB World Tour events and the second Chinese stop on the 2015 calendar will be the double-gender event FIVB Xiamen Open scheduled for September 22 to 27.
The gold medal teams in each gender at the FIVB Fuzhou Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500. The men’s medal matches were held on Saturday and the women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.