London, Great Britain, August 4, 2012 – Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova recorded the biggest result of their career when they knocked out fifth seeds Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes with a 21-16, 20-22, 15-9 win that takes them into the quarter-finals of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Horse Guard’s Parade.
Maria Antonelli opened scoring and for the rest of the first set the teams matched each other point for point until the Czechs pulled away as the first set drew to a close.
In the early stages of the second set the Brazilians were unable to deal with the Czech players’ movement and agility around the court, but they used their experience to catch them on the scoreboard. However, Slukova and Kolocova refused to give up and they saved one match point before a powerful Maria Antonelli serve won the second set.
The third set began the same way when the Czechs built up their lead early on and while Talita and Maria Antonelli tried to fight back, the Czechs had done enough to keep them at arm’s length and win the match.
“We were so happy to get through the pool and get a 16th place finish,” Slukova said. “We’ve never beaten this team and it is just great to be at the Olympics. She (Kristyna) played amazing in the pool play and I knew that it was my turn and I had to take over because she wasn’t feeling well today."
Defending champs in top nick
Defending Olympic gold medallists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh didn’t hang about in their round of 16 match and took 30 minutes to knock out The Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Marleen van Iersel.
The Americans were clinical throughout the match and finished with 21-13, 21-12 win that sets up a last eight clash with Italians Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari. Ominously they believe that they can still improve.
“There is an added sense of urgency and we don’t want to go home,” Walsh said. “We still have our best volleyball in us which is good because teams are only going to get better from now on.
“We felt really smooth out there and got them out of their style and got them into ours more. I think they had a bit of an off game and Misty had an amazing game.”
Cicolari and Menegatti needed only two sets to see off the challenge of Spain’s Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo.
In both sets the Italians raced into an early lead, before the Spaniards dragged themselves back into proceedings. However, both times Cicolari and Menegatti kept their composure and turned the match back in their favour to finish with a 21-15, 21-15 victory.
"We played very good,” Cicolari said. “We knew that we could win. We wanted to win and everyone could see that."
Menegatti added, "We played a quite perfect match and I hope to do just that the next game."
China continue march towards medals
Chinese pair Zhang Xi and Chen Xue continued their advance towards the medal position when they beat Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova 21-12, 21-11.
The Beijing 2008 bronze medallists were in no mood to hang around on court and wrapped up the match in 30 minutes.
“I think we found our own style and we changed tactics for this match,” Zhang said. “We are so excited and having so much fun. Here in London is better for us than Beijing because we feel less pressure. We prepared a lot for this match and studied they way this Russian team played.”
Meanwhile Sydney 2000 gold medallist Kerri Pottharst who is in London to work for Australia television believes that experience will be the key as the tournament moves into the quarter-final stages, with Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca against Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller the pick of the matches.
“I don’t think Juliana and Larissa have really been pushed yet, but I am sure they will be in their next match with Goller and Ludwig,” she said. “They are in good form.”
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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