Beijing, China, August 17, 2008 - The host country will be on the women’s Beach Volleyball podium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games after Chen Xue and Xi Zhang assured China its first-ever Summer Games medal in the sport by eliminating a team from the United States here Sunday evening at the12,200-seat Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground.
Played before a pro-Chinese crowd, the fourth-seeded Xue and Zhang scored a 21-17 and 21-13 win in 42 minutes over fifth-seeded Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs to join top-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang as the host country’s representatives in the “final four” along with pairs from Brazil and the United States.
In the last quarter-final match Sunday evening, Brazil preserved its streak of appearing in each woman’s Olympic Beach Volleyball “final four” as sixth-seeded Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro scored a 24-22 and 21-14 win in 47 minutes over 10th-seeded Tamsin Barnett and Natalie Cook of Australia.
With the Brazilian win, Cook was denied an opportunity of a fourth Olympic semi-final appearance as the 33-year old Australian won medals in Atlanta (bronze) and Sydney (gold) with Kerri Pottharst, and placed fourth in Athens with Nicole Sanderson. Cook joined Martin Conde of Argentina and Emanuel Rego of Brazil as the only players to compete in all four Beach Volleyball Olympics.
Before Tian and Wang’s a 21-12 and 21-12 victory Sunday morning in 41 minutes over the 18th-seeded Schwaiger sisters (Doris and Stephanie) of Austria, reigning Olympic champions and second-seeded Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States advanced to the semi-finals with a 21-18 and 21-15 win in 41 minutes over third-seeded Ana Paula Connelly and Larissa Franca of Brazil.
For Tuesday semi-finals, Tian and Wang will be looking for their 16th win in 22 FIVB meetings with Xue and Zhang since the two teams starting playing each other on international circuit in 2006. The 19-year old Xue, the youngest player to win a FIVB crown at the age of 17 in 2006 at a stop in Shanghai, and Zhang have won two of the last three meetings between the two teams.
For the Brazil against the United States match, May-Treanor and Walsh hold a 4-0 edge in the series. In the only meeting this season, the Americans defeated Talita and Renata at the Norwegian Grand Slam stop in Stavanger June 27.