Xue and Zhang off to winning start at World Champs
Xue and Zhang missed out on the last three FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour events in Corrientes, The Hague and Rome because of the highly popular Chinese National Games, but quickly found their stride.
“We have been very busy playing in China, but we are glad to be back”, Xue said.
The Chinese duo had an easy first set against Poland, but had to play point by point in the second. Xue and Zhang had their first match point at 20-18, but then Zhang served into the net. On the second, the Polish pair did the same to hand Xue and Zhang victory.
Opportunities and mistakes
“The first set was fine, but the second was not very good,” Xue said. “We had some opportunities, but did not grab them and made some mistakes. Also the Polish team played better in the second.”
Xue and Zhang are aiming to win their second World Championships medal after they won bronze at Rome 2011. They also hold bronze medals from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, but having missed out on the medals at London 2012 they will be determined not to miss out on a place on the podium this year.
However, they have had to adjust from hot and humid conditions in China to cool, breezy conditions in Stare Jablonki.
“We will just try our best and go for the gold,” Xue said. “We just came from Nanjing, where we prepared for the World Championships. It was very hot and humid there. Now we have to get used to this rather cool weather.”
Debut for Paszek and Kociolek
For Paszek and Kociolek this is their first World Championships, but they have been placed in a tough pool. Along with Xue and Zhang, they also take on Slovakia’s Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova and Finland’s twin sisters Emilia and Erika Nystrom.
“We're playing at such a big tournament for the first time,” Paszek said. “The feeling of playing is amazing and the stadium is fantastic. The first set wasn't that good but later on we had few good moments.
“We're playing with China and Slovakia. We could have had better luck but we are still going to fight and fight for every point.”
Salgado earn Brazilian bragging rights
In an all-Brazilian get together Maria Clara and Carolina Salgado beat Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima in an attractive three setter. Talita and Lima came back in the second set, but the strong serving Salgado sisters took an early lead in the tiebreak and never let go before winning 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-10).
“This is a really good start,” Carolina said. “Maria Clara was serving so strong, that really made the difference today.”
Talita and Lima won the previous two Grand Slam tournaments on the World Tour in Rome and The Hague, while the Salgado sisters have won silver medals once and bronze twice. Their best result at the World Championships so far was 5th at Gstaad 2007.
“We had a real good start this season”, Maria Clara said. “So I think we can have a good tournament here, but there are a lot of other good teams that can win as well.”
Strong start for Bawden and Clancy
Another debutant at the World Championships, 20-year old Taliqua Clancy from Australia, made a better start with her partner Louise Bawden. They beat Dutch duo Jantine van der Vlist and Marloes Wesselink in 2-0 (22-20, 21-17).
While it may be her debut tournament, Clancy holds bronze medals from U19 and U21 World Championships, while Bawden featured in Rome 2011, where she finished ninth.
“The game was really good”, Clancy said. “It was very fast and they played well and we enjoyed the game. We expected them to be good.”
The women’s competition continues on Tuesday with another round of pool play. After the final round on Wednesday 32 teams, the first and second ranked in each pool and the top eight third ranked teams, advance to the elimination phase. The semifinals and medal matches are scheduled for Saturday. The men’s competition is one day behind and concludes on Sunday.
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