Holtwick and Semmler heading back to best at Stavanger Grand Slam
The German duo produced a feisty display to beat the Netherlands’ Marlene van Iersel and Madelein Meppelink 2-0 (21-19, 21-17). By topping their pool they go straight into the second elimination round, while van Iersel and Meppelink must now play the first elimination rounds.
“We are really happy that we won this game and that we played better,” Semmler said. “We had a few games here before where we noticed we were getting better and we are working really hard on that.
“I like this tournament, it is a wonderful place. It is really different place than the other stops we have on the tour. The wind is a little bit colder even when the sun is out, but that can also happen in Berlin. Last week it was really windy and a difficult tournament in Berlin as well.”
Holtwick and Semmler began the 2014 season in optimistic mood after winning one silver and three bronze in 2013.
They started well when they reached the Shanghai Grand Slam semifinals before finishing fourth. They then won silver at the Prague Open, but at both the Moscow and Berlin Grand Slams in recent weeks they failed to progress beyond the pool stages.
“We had a few bad results last tournament and the main reason was our block and defence,” Semmler added. “We really had a few troubles with it in the last couple of weeks.
“So we are really happy with what we have achieved now, but we do not want to stop of course. The goal for the rest of the week is a few more wins and to be back on the court enjoying the game and having fun.”
Chinese claim knockout spot with vital win
China’s Chen Xue and Xia Xinyi meanwhile needed a final win to progress to the first knockout round.
Having lost to Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth and then USA’s April Ross and Kerri Walsh, they needed to beat local favourites Sannarnes Irmelin Torsvik and Ane Guro Tveit Hjortland to progress and duly did so with, with Chen Xue shaking off a foot injury to win 2-0 (21-12, 21-14).
“We had to play in a controlled way and maybe play a little different than we have done before because of the injury,” Xue said. “I cannot jump that high or spike so hard, so we have to focus on a better defence.
“We will have to focus on other side of the game now and my partner and I had some good serves today.”
Just over a year ago Xue was on her way to winning the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships alongside long-time partner Zhang Xi, with whom she enjoyed her best finish in Stavanger when they reached the quarterfinals in 2010.
She then teamed up with the 17-year-old Xia Xinyi late in 2013 and the pair have already won two bronze medals in 2014, from Fuzhou in China and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.
“It feels good to be here,” Xue added. It is a bit colder than the other places, but to come here is so exciting. The sky, the ocean, the ships, it is like a postcard. We like it here.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Stavanger Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 25 until Sunday June 29. It is the eighth event and the fourth 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 Gstaad Grand Slam which runs from July 9-13.