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Beach Volleyball - 12. June 2011.

Giant killers Holtwick/Semmler make women’s semis at Beijing Grand Slam

Lowly ranked German giant killers Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler claimed three straight sets wins here on Friday to make the women’s semifinals of the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Beijing Grand Slam.

Upsetting top seeds Juliana Felisberta Da Silva and Larissa Franca and second seeds Maria Antonelli and Talita Da Rocha Antunes of Brazil on their way to the top four, Holtwick/Semmler set up a semifinal clash with Italy’s 14th seeds Marta Menegatti/Greta Cicolari, 21-16, 16-21 and 20-18 winners over another Brazilian tandem Maria Clara Salgado Rufino/Carolina Solberg Salgado in the last quarterfinal match.

The other two tickets to the medal round went to Americans Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh and April Ross/Jennifer Kessy.

The 31st seeded Holtwick/Semmler stunned Juliana/Larissa 21-15 and 23-21 in 39 minutes in the first round of the knockout stage Friday morning.

“We still don’t believe it yet, but it’s very good. We played good, they didn’t play that well, but we took the chance to beat them and now we are looking forward to our next match and we will see what happens,” said Holtwick. “We really want to make the top 10 and when we got our draw yesterday evening we felt it could be difficult to make it, but now we made it and we think everything is open now.”

“We’ll play against the Schwaigers and they are a very good team at the moment, but hopefully we can beat them and play another good match for preparation for the world championships,” she added.

Later on Friday, the German duo went on to beat sixth seeded Stefanie and Doris Schwaigers of Austria 22-20, 21-12 and Antonelli/Talita 25-23 and 21-18.

“Three 2-0 victories in a row, that’s the best we can do today! So we are very happy,” Holtwick said after her third match of the day. “We take everything we get and hopefully it’s a medal tomorrow.”

Reigning world champions Ross/Kessy went behind 14-11 and 14-10 against Xue Chen/Zhang Xi in the first and second set of their quarterfinal match, but they steadily pulled it back both times to win through 21-16 and 25-23 and snap the home favorites’ four game winning streak in their head-to-head encounters since June 2010.

“I think it’s difficult to beat China any time, especially in China. It’s very difficult, we haven’t beaten them in a very long time,” said Jennifer. “To do it in the Grand Slam, to do it in China and to come from behind is just a test of heart and we believe we can win every match even if we are three or four points down.”

In Saturday morning’s semifinals, Ross/Kessy will meet two-time defending Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.

“We always go for the gold medal. We might play Misty/Kerri, I think we are really happy with where we are right now and we are gonna play as hard as we can to get the gold medal,” Jennifer added.

Ross/Kessy improved their record against Xue/Zhang to 2-6 with the hard fought victory.

“It’s an exciting match, but I did not play very well,” said a disappointed Xue. “Their serve gave me a lot of pressure and made it difficult for me to side out. We were able to take some counter attack opportunities, but at the same time we made a lot of unforced errors.”

May-Treanor/Walsh collected a pair of wins over 24th seeds Cristine Santanna and Andrezza Martins das Chagas of Georgia and 16th seeds Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr from Switzerland on their way to the semifinals.

The Chinese capital is welcoming back international beach volleyball for the first time since the 2008 Olympic Games and the inaugural $600,000 Beijing Grand Slam is the third of 12 double-gender events on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, which also includes three single-gender events for women, two single-gender events for men and a special 24-team Olympic test event in London August 9-14.
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