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World Tour champs lay down marker ahead of semifinals

Taiana Lima (left) and Talita Antunes are hoping to be smiling come the end of the Moscow Grand Slam
Moscow, Russia, June 14, 2014 – FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour champions Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima put on a show of strength on Saturday at the Moscow Grand Slam to lead the charge to the semifinals. 

The Brazilian pair started with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-18, 15-13) win over China’s Fan Wang and Yuan Yue and then followed up with a 2-0 (21-10, 21-16) victory against Polish duo Monika Brzostek and Kinga Kolosinska.

It means they now face Elsa McMillan Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez Steiner for a place in the gold medal match on Sunday after the Spanish pair defeated China’s Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia. 

“I think we played very well and we were very focused,” Talita said. “The Polish girls have played well in the tournament and before us they beat the Czech Republic team (Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova).

“We knew they had a good serve because we watched a lot of them this tournament. In the first set we forced them into mistakes and though they improved in the second we were still able to beat them.”

A year ago in Moscow they only made it to the second elimination round, but victories in five other Grand Slams helped them to the World Tour title.

So far in 2014 they have yet to add to their medal collections, with a fourth place finish at the Shanghai Grand Slam their best result on the World Tour so far. 

“It is always great to play in the semifinal,” Talita added. “Last year we lost against Italy (Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti). It was a very tough match and it was stopped twice because of the rain and the storm and that wasn’t good for us.”

The second semifinal will pitch the recently-crowned European champions Marleen van Iersel and Madelein Meppelink against the USA’s April Ross and Kerri Walsh. 

Dutch duo Van Iersel and Meppelink required three match points, but eventually defeated Brazilians Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta 2-0 (21-11, 23-21), while Ross and Walsh defeated Germany’s Karla Borger and Britta Buthe 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-13). 

“I’m so very happy that we’ve got to the semifinal,” van Iersel said. “We knew that the Brazilians are a tough team to beat; we played them in the pool and lost 2-1, but we knew had a chance against them.

“We changed our game a little bit and it worked and it was a great game.”

The pair have only recently teamed up and their win at the European Championships came in only their fourth tournament together.

“I think we still have the good feeling from last week,” van Iersel added. “I’m glad we can continue that here this week and I hope we can show something good in the semis.”

The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Moscow Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 11 through to Sunday June 15. It is the sixth event and the second Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.

The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Berlin Grand Slam which runs from June 17-22.


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