Maria Antonelli and Talita edge out Germany's Goller/Ludwig in thriller
2012 Olympic Games
London, Great Britain, July 31, 2012. Brazilians Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes had to be at their very best to record their second victory of the London 2012 Olympic Games, over Germans Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller in a three-set thriller.
After the Brazilians won the first set comfortably, Ludwig and Goller rallied in the second set and refused to be defeated despite facing nine match points against them and they eventually won the set to draw level. In the third though Maria Antonelli and Talita had a slight edge and finished with a 21-19, 28-30, 15-13 win.
“We had nine match points, but we could not close,” Maria Antonelli said. “At the beginning of the third set we knew what we had to do. We didn’t need to say much, just concentrate.”
Spanish pair Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan also booked their place in the elimination rounds after they beat Argentine duo Maria Zonta and Anna Gallay.
“We did not start our best. We were kind of lost on the court,” Liliana said. “Before the match we had it clear who would do what, but that did not work out at all. So at the end of the first set we talked again: you do this, I'll do that”.
In the last match USA’s April Ross and Jennifer Kessy had to be at their best to defeat The Netherland’s Sanne Keizer and Marleen van Iersel. They appeared in control after they won the first set, but a foot injury to Kessy allowed the Dutch to claim the second set. After a medical time out though Kessy was able to continue and they finished with a 21-15, 12-21, 15-8 win. “We play those girls a lot and they are tough. Every time it goes three (sets) and it is a tough game,” Kessy said. “I have these feet that just freeze and it was from an hour before out on the practice court. It got to the point where I couldn’t feel my feet anymore, so I got some warm water and that really helped.”
Dutch duo Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel kept up their hopes of qualifying to the knockout stages with a win over Australians Becchara Palmer and Louise Bawden.
The pair lost to Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes in their opening match, but dominated from start to finish to win 21-19, 21-15.
“For Dutch women it is the first beach volleyball victory in Olympic history,” Meppelink said. “We (the Dutch) have won a set before, but never a match. So we made history. We played really well, we know they play well in the second games, so we put a lot of pressure on them and it paid off.”
Italy’s Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti meanwhile recorded their second victory of their tournament to put themselves in poll position in Pool F. They started slowly against Britain’s Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin, who were seeking a second win in front of their home crowd. However, despite the 15,000 crowd being firmly behind the British pair Cicolari and Menegatti kept their focus to win 21-18, 21- 12.
Now they must beat Canada’s Annie Martin and Marie-Andree Lessard to go through the pool stages undefeated.
“We changed our strategy early in the first set,” Cicolari said. “We began by serving at Dampney, but she was receiving well, so we changed it around more and it seemed to work. Things have gone well up till now and we’re playing well. Now we’ll have to see what happens in a day and a half.”
Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova got off the mark with a win over Lessard and Martin. After the Russians won the first set, the Canadians refused to buckle in the second and drew level before Ukolova and Khomyakova edged the third set to 21-18, 28-30, 15-13 in an hour and 10 minutes.
“In the first and second set we made a lot of mistakes and the Canadians were playing well,” Ukolova said. “We were not aggressive. At timeout we decided to serve much more aggressively and it paid off”.
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