World champs set up final clash with Brazilian pair in Gstaad
The Chinese duo won 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) to set up a clash with another Brazilian pair, Liliane Maestrini and Barbara Seixas. They are in ominous form at the moment since finding their rhythm after they had faltered early at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Mazury 2013.
Even so against Talita and Lima, they were up against another pair in confident mood, after they had won three gold medals on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour this year.
“We know that they are playing great this year, so we prepared for three sets, but glad we didn’t need them,” Xue said.
Gstaad has been a happy hunting ground for the Chinese, though they have yet to win a gold medal. They first won bronze in 2008, added a second in 2010 and then won silver medals in 2011.
Xue and Zhang Xi last met Lili and Seixas in the semifinals of the World Championships, where they won in straight sets, but know they cannot let up their intensity.
“We played them in the last tournament in Poland and they are a great team and we need to play well again,” Xue said. “We have found our rhythm and we think we are improving all the time.”
Lili and Seixas into first final
Liliane and Seixas needed only two sets to beat Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst and reach their first senior FIVB final together, having gone through the qualifying rounds at the start of the tournament.
The Brazilian duo, who won the U21 World Championships in 2007, beat the Germans 2-0 (21-18, 21-16). They are now guaranteed a medal for a third consecutive tournament having won bronze at the Rome Grand Slam and World Championships.
“I always believed,” Seixas said. “I know what this team is capable of and I believe in my partner. At the beginning we were sure we could reach the later stages of the tournament and now we have done it.
“We knew we were in the right condition to reach the final four and fight for a medal. This proves what we’ve always dreamed of and what we’ve been working for.”
The match followed a similar pattern in both sets. While Ludwig and Walkenhorst started the stronger, by both technical timeouts the Brazilians had pulled to within one point and then when they returned to the court they took control of the match.
“Yesterday was an exhausting day for sure,” Seixas said. “It was really exhausting because we had three games, so now we will get some rest and go for it in the final tomorrow.”
The Gstaad Grand Slam is the fifth Grand Slam of 10 on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. The tournament began with women’s qualifying on Tuesday July 9 and ends with women’s and men’s medal matches on Sunday July 14.
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