London, Great Britain, August 3, 2012 – Brazil’s reigning FIVB SWATCH world champions and six-time FIVB SWATCH World Tour season chmpions Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca turned the heat up a notch to power by Netherland’s youthful Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestel in the women’s Round of 16 elimination match during the second of four sessions of the day, Friday as Day 7 continues 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 midday session, there will be four sessions total with one women’s and one men’s match in each. Brazil’s leading ladies increased their record to 4-0 against the Dutch women in two sets, 21-10, 21-17 in just 36 minutes.
Displaying the athleticism, poise, patience and diligence of athletic of their stature, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa wasn’t no time nor extra energy in precision-like manner cutting through the Dutch women’s defense and stopping their offense short in dominating the first set. In the second, Holland’s Meppelink/van Gestel showed the young-but-developing mettle as they didn’t relax, took leads of 5-2 and 13-9 before Brazil’s Juliana and then Larissa took turns making spectacular plays to outscore their game opponents, 12-4 to close out the set, match and victory.
Statisically in the match, Brazil’s Juliana had two ace serves, nine kills, two blocks and five digs and her teammate Larissa contributed two aces as well along with 11 kills and nine digs to move their record to 4-0 in London. In their final gallant appearance in these Olympic Games, Netherlands’ Meppelink had 14 kills, five blocks and four digs.
Following her team’s victory, Juliana said, “The Dutch team served well in the second set, we made some mistakes and fell behind. What’s most important is that we faced a difficult moment, kept control and turned the set around and won the match. I blocked badly today, but Larissa made a lot of digs. I’ll focus on my blocking in training. I’ll be back out on the training courts at 8 p.m. tonight (Friday) practicing blocks.”
With their round of 16 victory, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa, who didn’t get to play together in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games because of a knee-injury Larissa suffered shortly before the games and Larissa went and claimed a fifth place finish with Ana Paula Connelly, advance to the quarterfinals to meet the winner of Saturday’s round of 16 match between Switzerland’s Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr vs. USA’s Jennifer Kessy/April Ross.
Earning their spot the hard way into the round of 16, Netherlands’ Meppelink/van Gestel had to win a play-in match late Thursday evening after finishing 1-2 in pool play. Mepelink, 22 and van Gestel, just 21 who just last year earned the bronze medal in the FIVB SWATCH Junior World Championships for players under 21 in Halifax, Canada, were one of the last two women’s teams to qualifying when the made through the FIVB World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament in Moscow in June.
The Dutch women proudly leave London now with a 2-3 record and an official ninth-place finish in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Reflecting on the match and their Olympic experience, van Gestel said, “This is the last match for us, so we’re a little upset and sad as well. We’re happy that we played really well in the second set. Looking back, we showed some good play at moments so we can be content.”
On the men’s side, the round of 16 got started with another dominating winning performance, this one by Latvia’s Martins Plavins/Janis Smedins who swept past Norway’s Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr in two sets, 21-18, 21-16 in 41 minutes. As dominant as the win was it only evened the series history between the two teams to 2-2.
Statistically, for the winners, Plavins had 18 kills and 13 digs and Smedins had nine kills, four blocks and five digs. For Norway, Skarlund had nine kills and seven digs while Spinnangr had 1 ace, 14 kills and one block.
Overjoyed and ready to go for the quarterfinals, Plavins commented after his team’s win “We were so nervous but so were they and that’s why we won. The match was very bad. I’m not sure what our coach will say. We made so many mistakes, but I’m so happy that we won, so it’s not important any more. Bor beach volleyball the best age is between 31 and 35 and I’m just 27 and Janis is 25. If we keep going on the court like this, who knows how far we’ll be able to go in the next Olympics in 2016 in Rio. But for now, we’re focusing on how far we are going to get in this tournament.”
Latvia now advance to a quarterfinal matchup between Saturday’s round of 16 match winner between Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev/Konstantin Semenov and USA’s Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal.
Norway’s Skarlund/Spinnangr will leave their Olympic experience with a 2-2 record and an official ninth place finish in London.
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