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Ludwig and Walkenhorst knock out year’s leading side

Ludwig and Walkenhorst were all smiles after reaching the round of 16
Stare Jablonki, Poland, July 4, 2013 – Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst needed to be at their best to knock out Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima, the year’s leading side, from the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Mazury 2013 on Thursday.

Despite being their first year as a team Talita and Lima already have three Grand Slam gold medals under their belts so far this year, including from the Rome Grand Slam, the last tournament on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour before the World Championships. 

Along they way to winning in Rome they knocked out Ludwig and Walkenhorst in round two, but on the Mazury 2013 centre court the Germans saved one match point, then let slip five of their own before they won 2-1 (21-17, 14-21, 20-18) with a Walkenhorst ace.

“It was definitely a tough match today,” Ludwig said. “The last time we lost against them was also in three sets and we weren’t happy with our game. Yesterday against (Maria) Antonelli and Agatha (Bednarczuk) we were also not very satisfied and today we just thought, ‘let’s just go and fight from the beginning on’ and we did that until the end. 

“We put pressure on with our serving, especially at the end, so thank you Kira for serving that ace. It was very important we were 100 percent all the way.”

The Germans were quickest out of the blocks as they sought a way to build some early momentum. It worked to perfection as Walkenhorst gave Talita few chances, while Ludwig kept their defence solid and added her own subtle touches in attack.

Talita and Lima fought back in the second set, but Walkenhorst and Ludwig maintained their belief to book their place in the round of 16 in what is Walkenhorst’s first World Championships and their first as a team.

“Now it is really great, but every match I am really nervous,” Walkenhorst said. “There are really good teams, who I have never played before, but we did well and Laura is helping me a lot. She knows a lot and tells me all about them and that is working.”

First seeds start to hit form
Number one seeds Chen Xue and Zhang Xi showed that they are close to their best by beating the previously unbeaten Maria Antonelli and Agatha 2-0 (23-21, 21-14).

They had missed the three previous Grand Slams to play in the Chinese National Games and their rustiness showed when they lost their last two pool matches to leave them in third place in their pool.

However, they were close to their ruthless best against the Brazilians to sound a warning to the rest of the women’s field. 

“After we lost in the pool we realised that we were starting from the bottom,” Xue said. “It meant we could relax and play a more balanced style.”

Vanuatu continue to make strides

Xue and Zhang Xi will now play Vanuatu’s Henriette Iatika and Elwin Miller, who kept up their impressive start to their debut World Championships by knocking out Czech Republic Olympians Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) victory.

“We were really focused on our game today, to make sure we played our own game,” Iatika said. “We are looking forward to the next match, we’ll do a bit of training and a bit of relaxing. After our victory today, all our country will be very proud.”

Cicolari and Menegatti return to winning ways

Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti put their loss to Germany’s Britta Buthe and Karla Burger in their final pool match behind them by defeating another German team Victoria Bieneck and Julia Grossner.

Once again the Italian duo had to fight back from losing the opening set, but this time when the match went to a tie-break, the pair dug deep to gain the ascendancy and hold off any attempt by the Germans to spark a late comeback.

“Today’s match was very similar to yesterday’s, but the main difference was that when we went to a tie-break we won rather than lost and now we’re exhausted after all the tension,” Cicolari said.

“We were able to handle the pressure though and grew when things got tough. 
They were very tough team with nothing to lose. We’d never played them before so we had to analyse them a lot before and we had to adapt a bit after the first set. They had a great match.”

A year ago Menegatti and Cicolari won silver at the Stare Jablonki Grand Slam, one of four sets of medals that they won in FIVB events in 2012.

This year their best results have been quarterfinal finishes at The Hague and Rome Grand Slams, but they are confident of winning their first medal of the year at Mazury 2013, though first they must get past Poland’s Kinga Kolosinska and Monika Brzostek.

“We are happy to have reached the round of 16,” Menegatti added. “We are already thinking about tomorrow’s match as our main target is to reach the final.”

The women’s competition continues on Friday with the round of 16 and quarterfinals. 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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