Nantong, China, June 1, 2019 – Women’s beach volleyball pairs from Brazil, host China, Poland and Russia advanced to the final four of the $25,000 Silk Road Nantong Open after winning two elimination bracket matches each here on Saturday.

Leading the teams into the FIVB World Tour semifinals are Carolina Horta and Angela Lavalle as the top-seeded Brazilians will be seeking to defend their country’s Nantong gold medal after compatriots Josemari Alves and Liliane Maestrini captured the 2018 Silk Road Open title.

Horta and Angela, who are guaranteed their best FIVB finish together, will meet fifth-seeded Ksenia Dabizha/Daria Rudykh of Russia in Sunday’s first semifinal. The second final four match will pit host country favourites Jingzhe Wang/Shuhui Wen of China against 22nd-seeded Aleksandra Gromadowska/Jagoda Gruszczynska of Poland.

After dropping a three-set pool play setback to Cuba’s Mailen Deliz/Leila Martinez on Friday, Horta and Angela rebounded on Saturday to post elimination wins over pairs from Germany and China to advance to the Silk Road Nantong Open final four in their fourth FIVB World Tour event together.

Following a 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) win in 41 minutes over eighth-seeded Leonie Kortzinger/Sarah Schneider of Germany, Horta and Angela gained a semifinal berth by defeating 20th-seeded Chunxia Chen/Lingdi Zhu of China 2-0 (21-14, 28-26) in a 44-minute quarterfinal match.

Dabizha and Rudykh, who are playing in their sixth FIVB event together and captured a World Tour gold medal at the start of May on Tuan Chau Island, Vietnam, advanced to Sunday’s schedule with wins over 12th-seeded Gaia Traballi/Agata Zuccarelli of Italy 2-0 (21-16, 21-19) in 39 minutes and 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) in 29 minutes over 16th-seeded Victoria Kjolberg/Ane Tveit Hjortland of Norway.

Gromadowska and Gruszczynska, who are also guaranteed their best FIVB World Tour placement together, posted their wins Saturday over fourth-seeded qualifiers Yurika Sakaguchi/Chiyo Suzuki of Japan 2-1 (21-15, 10-21, 16-14) in 48 minutes and 15th-seeded compatriots Monika Brzostek/Aleksandra Wachowicz 2-0 (21-16, 22-20) in 33 minutes.  Gromadowska and Gruszczynska, who are playing in their 13th FIVB World Tour together, had to win two qualifying matches Thursday to advance to the Nantong main draw.

Like the Russians, Wang and Wen will be seeking their second FIVB World Tour gold medal as the Chinese pair posted a 2-1 (19-21, 21-16, 15-8) opening win in 49 minutes on Saturday over 10th-seeded Azusa Futami/Akiko Hasegawa of Japan before ousting second-seeded Phoebe Bell/Jessyka Ngauamo of Australia 2-1 (21-15, 18-21, 15-9) in 44 minutes. On Friday, Wang and Wen dropped a three-set pool play match to the Bell and Ngauamo.

Sunday’s gold medal team will split the $4,000 first-place prize as the Silk Road Nantong Open is the 24th women’s event on the 2018-2019 FIVB World Tour schedule. Women’s event No. 25 is also being played this weekend in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

The third annual Silk Road Nantong Open is the first of two back-to-back women’s international beach volleyball events in China as the city located on the northern bank of the Yangtze River stages the sixth of nine FIVB World Tour stops in the Asian country during the 2018-2019 season. The Silk Road Beach Volleyball event continues next weekend in Nanjing for another women’s-only FIVB World tour event.

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