London, Great Britain, August 3, 2012 – US duo April Ross and Jennifer Kessy were one of four women’s teams that reached the quarter-finals of the London 2012 Olympic Games on the first day of the knockout rounds at Horse Guard’s Parade. They beat Switzerland’s Nadine Zumkehr and Simone Kuhn 21-15, 21-19.
Ross and Kessy played their final pool match less than 24 hours earlier, but managed to come out strongly at the start and quickly found their rhythm. In the second set though the Swiss fought hard to stay in contention and managed to save one match point before Ross won the match with a spike.
“I’m elated because it was a fast turn-around,” Ross said. “There was a lot of adrenalin going because we didn’t get time to train and we didn’t know how that would go so we came out and had a good warm up and it went well.”
Next up for Ross and Kessy is the winner of the match between Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes, and the Czech Republic’s Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova.
“We weren’t happy we had to play today, but we are now,” Ross added. “It gives us more chance to rest and watch them play.”
The round of 16 started with an all German match between Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig against Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick. The match went to form as the number one German side of Goller and Ludwig finished with the win, 21-16, 21-15.
“Before the draw I said two things: I don't want to play Germany and I don't want to play early. We got both, but maybe minus and minus is a plus,” Goller said. “The big difference I think is that we played in the Beijing Olympics. We can control our nerves a bit better.”
World champs march on
Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta continued to build momentum as they knocked out Dutch lucky loser winners Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel.
The Brazilians were on their best form in the opening set and then after a slow start to the second in which they found themselves trailing, they rediscovered their composure to win 21-10, 21-17.
“The match was very good and the first set was perfect for us, we made no mistakes,” Larissa said. “In the second set we went behind three points, but it's important that we managed to get back ahead.”
Larissa competed in Beijing 2008 with Ana Paula after Juliana was ruled out with a knee injury. While they may be close to their best, the fact that it is Juliana’s debut Olympics can still affect them.
“Juliana is feeling the pressure of playing in her first Olympic Games,” Larissa said. “I said it is OK to make mistakes. There is always a second set, or a third set. I always think we can win.”
Austrians equal Beijing finish
Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger continued their upturn in form to book themselves a place in the last eight and match their achievement from Beijing 2008. They saw off the challenge of Russia’s Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova with a 21-17, 16-21, 15-9 victory.
“We are so proud that we had a good match and competed on each ball,” Doris Schwaiger said. “It is so great to be fifth again and so proud to still be here in this tournament because we love it so much.”
Gold Coast Games
Sydney 2000 gold medallist Natalie Cook may have retired following her and Tamsin Hinchley’s elimination at the end of pool play, but she was back on court ahead to receive an award from the FIVB for her achievement of having played in five Olympic Games from Atlanta 1996 on. She now hopes to help the development of beach volleyball back home in Australia.
“The (2018) Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, I absolutely want to be a part of that,” she said. “I want to build a hub of beach volleyball on the Gold Coast. There is nowhere better in the world to put beach volleyball than the Gold Coast.”
In London the teams were divided equally into six pools of and the teams played each other once in their group. The top two advanced to the single-elimination knockout phase that began on August 3 along with the two best third-placed teams. The remaining four third-place teams competed in playoff matches to determine which pairs filled the final two places in the 16-team elimination bracket’s first round.
Sixteen teams qualified for the Games through the Olympic Ranking which is based primarily on world tour standings. Five more joined as winners of the AVC, CAVB, CEV, CSV and NORCECA Continental Cup Finals, and two from the World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament. Great Britain was granted a berth as hosts.
The sold-out beach volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games is being held through Aug. 9 in a purpose-built 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of Horse Guards Parade in central London. For current information, visit www.fivb.org.
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