London, Great Britain, August 3, 2012 – Both teams wished they could have played anyone else in the round of 16, but that’s the way of tournament play as Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig started the women’s round of 16 by eliminating compatriots Katrin Hotlwick/Ilka Semmler in the first match of the day Friday as Day 7 began for the London 2012 Olympic Games beach volleyball competition.
All the crowd-pleasing, heart-pounding action is being held in the purpose-built, sold-out 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parade as the majestic venue includes a portion of adjacent St. James Park in historic central London.
With two matches in Friday’s morning session, there will be four sessions with one women’s and one men’s match in each. Germany’s Goller/Ludwig got things going on center court without having to do much to wake up the early-morning crowd that nearly filled the stadium overpowering the team the know so well, Holtwick/Semmler in two sets, 21-16, 21-15 in just 37 minutes.
Both sets started out close as these two powerful women’s German teams are major stars of the FIVB SWATCH World Tour but like has happened so many times before, Goller/Ludwig’s strengths found Holtwick/Semmler’s weaknesses and pulled away to win for the 10th consecutive time. Meeting in international competition for the first time in a counry-quota playoff match at a FIVB event in Acapulco, Mexico in 2006, Goller/Ludwig now have 14-2 overall record against Holtwick/Semmler in international FIVB events.
Statisically in the match, Germany’s Goller recorded three service aces, 12 kills, two blocks and six digs with Ludwig contributing 14 kills and nine digs. Germany’s Holtwick had 15 kills and six digs with Semmler’s stats including eight kills and three digs.
Following her team’s victory, Goller said, “Before the draw I said two things: we don’t want to play Germany and we don’t want to play early. Well we got both, but maybe minus and minus is a plus. Both teams were a little tired today but the big difference is that we played in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. We can control our nerves a bit better.”
With their round of 16 victory, Germany’s Goller/Ludwig advance to the quarterfinals to meet the winner of Saturday’s round of 16 match between Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa France vs. Netherlands’ Madelein Meppeling/Sophie van Gestel.
Surviving a very tough pool that included Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler leave London with a 2-2 record and an official ninth-place finish in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Reflecting on the match and the Olympic experience, Holtwick said, “It was a wonderful experience and we were happy to be here, but it was difficult to lose like this. They were strong in service and we had trouble in reception, setting and attacking. I think that’s the main reason we lost.”
On the men’s side, the round of 16 got started with another strong winning performance, this one by Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel who swept past Switzerland’s Sebastian Chevallier/Sascha Heyer in two sets, 21-18, 21-17 in 42 minutes. Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel improved to 2-0 against Switzerland’s Chevallier/Heyer.
Statistically, Poland’s Fijalek had 16 kills and nine digs while Prudel recorded 14 kills, five blocks and five digs. For Switzerland, Heyer had nine kills, three blocks and four digs with Chevallier having 17 kills and 10 digs..
Overjoyed and ready to go for the quarterfinals, Fijalek commented after his team’s win “We didn’t know until 1 a.m. this morning that we were playing at 9 a.m., which was kind of tough, but both teams had to deal with it. We have beaten them before and we decided to use the same tactics and they worked. But we can’t tell you what they are though.”
Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel now move onto a quarterfinal matchup between Saturday’s round of 16 match winner between Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego and Germany’s Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik.
Playing with tenacity and determination in another strong pool, Switzerland’s Heyer/Chevallier will leave their Olympic experience with a 2-2 record and an official ninth place finish in London.
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