London, Great Britain, August 6, 2012 – As the women’s field of 24 has shrunk to the final four, the Tuesday’s semifinal matches will decide who will meed for the gold medal and who will meet for the bronze medal as two teams from the United States and one team each from Brazil and China are writing a new chapter in Olympic history on the road to gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games beach volleyball competition at Horse Guards Parade in central London.
Advancing from three matches in pool play and two rounds of elimination round, teams earning a place in the final four and to Tuesday’s semifinals are the top four seeds in this year’s Olympic Games are Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, China’s second-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, USA’s third-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh and USA’s fourth-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross.
A total 24 women’s beach volleyball teams from 17 countries started playing in London onJuly 28 in the purpose-built, sold-out 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parade as the majestic venue also includes a portion of adjacent St. James Park in historic central London.
Both the men and women’s semifinals will be held in two sessions on Tuesday night, the first one starting at 5 p.m. and the second at 9 p.m.
Meeting in one of the women’s semifinals at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night, China’s Xue/Zhang, 2008 Olympic bronze medallists, will play against USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, two-time defending Olympic Gold Medallists who have now won 19 consecutive matches without a loss and have a 38-1 set record in the Olympic Games.
Playing in the other women’s semifinal at 9 p.m. will be Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa, reigning FIVB SWATCH World Champions and six-time FIVB SWATCH World Tour champs battling against USA’s Kessy/Ross, the Brazilians in 2009 FIVB SWATCH World Champions.
On the road to gold in London, China’s Xue/Zhang was the first to advance with their quarterfinal win Sunday night over Austria’s Doris Schwaiger/Stefanie Schwaiger, 21-18, 21-11 in 36 minutes. USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh earned their semifinal spot by winning their quarterfinal match over Italy’s Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti, 21-13, 21-13 in 33 minutes.
In the other semifinal matchup, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa advanced by defeating Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig, 21-10, 21-19 in 41 minutes in their quarterfinal match while USA’s Kessy/Ross earned their spot with their quarterfinal win over Czech Republic’s Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, 25-23, 21-18 in 49 minutes.
China vs. USA
In the head-to-head meetings between the two teams on the in FIVB international competition, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh, 5-0 in these Olympic Games hold a 9-5 series edge although China’s Xue/Zhang have won the last three meetings between the two teams, including two in gold medal matches on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. The three-match run includes Aland, Finland on August 20, 2011, The Hague, Netherlands one week later on August 27, 2011 and most recently in the gold medal match on June 11, 2012 in Moscow, 21-14, 21-14 in 34 minutes. Of the 14 previous meetings only five have gone to three sets.
USA’s May-Treanor, 35, and Walsh, 33, have enjoyed a stellar career as a team since first playing together in 2001. They are competing in their 77th international event and have earned 63 final four appearances with 39 gold medals, 14 silvers, six bronze and three fourth place finishes.
China’s Xue, 23, and Zhang, 27, have become one of the top teams on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour since becoming a team in 2006 and playing every year together since then except 2009. They are also playing in their 77th international event with 42 final four finishes and have won 12 gold medals, 12 silver, 11 bronze and six fourth place finishes.
Brazil vs. USA
In the international series history between Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa and USA’s Kessy/Ross, the two veteran teams have met 22 times, with Brazil holding an 18-4 edge in the series between the two teams, including the last nine straight. In their most recent meeting on May 4, 2012 in Shanghai, Braizl’s Juliana/Larissa defeated USA’s Kessy/Ross in three-sets, 21-17, 16-21 and 18-16 in 53 minutes. USA’s Kessy/Ross last won over Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa on May 9, 2010, also in Shanghai and also in three sets, 15-21, 21-16, 15-12 in 56 minutes.
Brazil’s Juliana, 29, and Larissa, 30, have been a team since 2004 and this is their 106th international event. This is their 86th final four appearance and they have earned 44 gold medals, 20 silver, 16 bronze and five fourth place finishes. Scheduled to play in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Juliana injured her knee shortly before the Games and Larissa finished fifth with Ana Paula Connelly.
For USA’s Kessy, 35, and Ross, 30, this is their first Olympic Games and they are in their 69th international tournament. Since teaming up in 2007, they have earned 32 final four appearances, having earned nine gold medals, 10 silver, nine bronze and three fourth place finishes.
Current event information is available at www.fivb.org.
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