With six of eight matches in the Tokyo 2020 women’s Olympic beach volleyball tournament round of 16 played on Sunday, the first six quarterfinalists emerged. Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka will go against Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson in one of the matches for the final four spots. Another one will set Ana Patricia Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti against Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich. Laura Ludwig and Margareta Kozuch, as well as Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy, will find out their quarterfinal opponents on Monday, when the last two eighthfinals are played.
Lots of tie-break drama on way to women’s quarterfinals
Six of Tokyo 2020’s best eight emerge on Sunday
Opublikowane 01:10, 01 sie 2021
As many as four of the six games were decided in tie-breakers.
Canada’s Bansley and Brandie achieved the first turnaround of the day after losing the first set to USA’s Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil well into overtime. In the second set itself, the Canadians recovered from a six-point deficit to level the match and prompt a decider. In the third set, they maintained a slight lead that eventually took them to a 2-1 (22-24, 21-18, 15-13) victory.
“It goes to show the experience and even the leadership from Heather. Anything can happen in these high-level games. We were just ready to win today and we weren’t going to give it up,” Brandie told Volleyball World after the match.
Latvia’s Graudina and Kravcenoka also mastered a fantastic comeback from a set a down in their match against Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina of ROC. In the tie-breaker, the Latvians were way behind at 12-8, but fought their way back to take the lead on a five-point run and close it off on their first match-point for a 2-1 (16-21, 21-17, 15-13) win.
“A match like that tells us we should never ever give up, no matter what,” said Graudina. “We went in with such a fighting mentality. It’s all in or nothing. There is nothing to save. The match was crazy. We were down and weren’t supposed to win. But just pure grit and fearlessness is how I would describe what we felt.”
“Kerri Walsh had this rule of three B’s – breathe, believe, battle. We were completely following this rule,” Kravcenoka added.
Reigning Olympic champion Ludwig stayed on track to defending her title. She and her partner Kozuch on the German team edged past world’s number ones Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa in a dramatic three-setter where each of the sets was decided by the narrowest of margins. On Duda’s 22nd birthday, she and Agatha had a match point at 14-13 in the tie-breaker, but the Germans stormed to the victory on three in a row, 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 16-14).
“We are just proud of each other,” Ludwig said. “After the game we are shaking and we didn’t know what to do because we were so focused on the game. We knew it was going to be a close match. We knew were going to be really tough to play against, but we also knew we had a chance and we just took it with patience.”
“In the locker-room, before we went to the warm-up, out coach said that we would finish all the set at a two-point margin and we would win by 16-14 in the third. Actually, this is the reason why I made a mistake on the last serve!” joked Kozuch. “So somehow the coach was right.”
After a nail-biting tie-breaker that went deep into overtime, Verge-Depre and Heidrich won the all-Swiss eighthfinal battle with Tanja Huberli and Nina Betschart. Huberli and Betschart recovered from the blowout they suffered in the first set to win the second and push the match to three. The tie-breaker set proved to be the longest one in the match. Huberli and Betschart survived a double match point before wasting as many as five opportunities to close the match themselves. Verge-Depre and Heidrich regained control and eventually triumphed with a 2-1 (21-12, 19-21, 23-21) victory.
“Gosh! I think it was a really mental game. It’s never nice to play so early into the tournament against our Swiss compatriots. It was tough, but we had a good preparation and we said that we wanted to win this game and we wanted to go for more. We did a great job. Anouk did a great job, so I’m proud of our team,” said Heidrich.
“We know each other so well and it was one of the toughest games in my career,” Verge-Depre added. “I’m so happy these two points went to our side in the end. We’ll enjoy this evening, take this energy with us... And then I think we have a few more tasks here, so we focus and try to move forward against the Brazilians. It will be a very tough game, but we’ll put everything in.”
The other two games on Sunday’s programme finished in two sets, with the two Chinese pairs on the losing end on both occasions. Ana Patricia and Rebecca managed to a 2-0 (21-14, 23-21) victory over Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia, while Artacho Del Solar and Clancy produced a 2-0 (22-20, 21-13) shutout of Chen Xue and Xinxin Wang.