London, Great Britain, July 30, 2012 – Sisters Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger saved three match points to start a comeback that earned them their a 18-21, 22-20, 15-10 victory, their first of the London 2012 Olympic Games, over Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley.
The Australians led 20-16 in the second set, but the Austrians rallied to win the second and then took an early lead in the third that they held to win. Next up, they must play defending champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the USA, so they knew a victory was imperative.
“We were shaking a bit, but so were they and neither side had a good match,” Stefanie Schwaiger said. “It was important we won so that we can progress, but we knew that if we lost we would probably not be able to go through.
“In the first set we had many chances, but made a lot of mistakes. We were having trouble maintaining the level of our play, but we grew in confidence, which was important for the third set because it is so quick, you never know what is going to happen.”
The result means that five-time Olympian Cook faces the possibility of marking her final international tournament before retirement with elimination at the pool play stage. They now need to beat Czech Republic duo Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova in their final pool match to have any chance of reaching the knock-out rounds.
“That was a must win game for us,” she said. “You need to be in the position where you’ve won one and even if we beat the Czechs, I don’t know what will happen."
Misty May-Treanor ensured she was smiling on her birthday after she and Kerri Walsh secured a second victory at Horse Guard’s Parade. They were pushed hard by Slukova and Kolocova, but still won 21-14, 21-19 to stretch their Olympic matches without losing a set to 14, dating back to Athens 2004.
“There were a couple of things we had to modify and then I think we got really focused and focus on our own jobs,” Walsh said. “We trust each other; we dug deep and never, ever stopped trusting each other.”
Back to winning ways
China’s Chen Xue and Zhang Xi got back to winning ways with a three-set victory over Simone Kuhn and Nadine Zumkehr, 21-18, 16-21, 15-8.
In the first match of the tournament they slipped to a 21-18, 14-21, 14-16 loss to Russia’s Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova, but appeared to be close to their best as they beat the Swiss duo.
“We wanted to put all we had into this game,” Zhang Xi said. “We had pressure because of our previous mistakes in losing to Russia. We played well this time."
Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana and Larissa had a second straight impressive performance when they overpowered Germany’s 12th-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler, 21-18, 21-13 in 42 minutes.
It means the reigning FIVB world champions booked their place in the knock-out rounds without dropping a set in London.
“Our attitude during the game was perfect,” Juliana Felisberta said. “We think about the next point and discuss how to go about it. I really want to go to the final, but I’m only thinking about one step after the next.”
Greece’s 14th-seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti and Maria Tsiartsiani came from a set down to defeat Russia’s 23rd-seeded Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova, 18-21, 21-13 and 15-12 in 50 minutes and record their first win of London 2012.
Former champion predicts...
Sandra Pires, one of the gold medallists from the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games has said she believes that the traditional powers, Brazil and the USA, will battle for gold.
In London the teams have been split equally into six pools of and the teams play each other once in their group. The top two advance to the single-elimination knockout phase that begins on August 3 along with the two best third-placed teams. The remaining four third-place teams will then compete in playoff matches to determine which pairs will fill the final two places in the 16-team elimination bracket’s first round.
Sixteen teams qualified for the Games through the Olympic Ranking which is based primarily on world tour standings. Five more joined as winners of the AVC, CAVB, CEV, CSV and NORCECA Continental Cup Finals and two from the World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament. Great Britain was granted a berth as hosts.
Pool play continues Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. and continues to the final match of the day which starts at 11 p.m.
The sold-out beach volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games is being held through Aug. 9 in a purpose-built 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of Horse Guards Parade in central London. For current information, visit www.fivb.org.
photos Janos Schmidt