The “Taichung Bank” 2023 AVC Beach Tour Penghu Open at Aimen Beach, Penghu Islands in Chinese Taipei hit fever pitch again on Saturday when well-qualified teams strutted their stuff in action-packed Round of 16 and quarterfinals to keep their semifinals hopes alive in the four-day, double-gender competition.
In the women’s event, Japanese top seeds Miki Ishii/Sayaka Mizoe, fourth place at this year’s Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships in Pingtan, China, continued their remarkable unbeaten run in the Penghu Open following their 2-0 (21-15, 21-11) win against Thai pairing Charanrutwadee patcharamainaruebhorn/Woranatchayakorn Phirachayakrailert in Round of 16 to next take on hosts Chinese Taipei’s Yu Ya-Hsuan/Pan Tzu-Yi in the afternoon quarterfinals.
Yu and Pan also proved too strong for Tam Kin Teng/Lei Keng Lai to cruise past the Macao, China duo 21-12, 21-6 in 26 minutes in the Round of 16 earlier.
Asked if they felt pressure playing the superb Japanese duo later in the afternoon, Yu Ya-Hsuan said, “The Japanese team are very strong, and frankly, we are under pressure. However, no matter which opponents we will take, we will give it all out to play the game well.”
In the quarterfinal clash later on the same day, Ishii and Mizoe remained unstoppable as they outplayed Yu and Pan, the hopes of the host nation in the women’s competition, 21-15, 21-15 to enter the Sunday morning’s semifinals.
Another Japanese pairing, second seeds Akiko Hasegawa/Yurika Sakaguchi, who struggled to beat Philippines’ Floremel Rodriguez/Jane Eslapor Genesa 22-20, 26-24 in Round of 16, also entered the semifinals following their sensational 2-0 (21-18, 21-8) win against Hong Kong, China’s To Wing Tung/Wong Man Ching in the quarterfinals.
Akiko and Yurika will next challenge sixth seeds Jana Milutinovic/Stefanie Fejes, who bounced back from the first-set down to stun third seeds Georgia Johnson/Jasmine Fleming in three-setter 6-21, 21-12, 15-9 in the all-Australians affair.
Vanuatu’s Majabelle Lawac/Sherysyn Toko also booked their semifinal berth after comeback 2-1 (19-21, 21-18, 16-14) win against Thailand’s Rumpaipruet Numwong/Galchananan Jirutchayabhornwadee in the quarterfinals. Lawac and Toko will face off against Japan’s Ishii and Mizoe in the Sunday morning’s semifinals.
In the men’s event, Australia’s top seeds Mark Nicolaidis/Izac Carracher, second seeds Pithak Tipjan/Poravid Taovato of Thailand, New Zealand’s fourth seeds Bradley Fuller/Alani Nicklin and Japan’s 12th seeds Kosuke Fukushima/Hiroki Dylan Kurokawa all powered their ways to semifinals of the Penghu Open following their similar 2-0 wins against their respective opponents in the quarterfinals.
Nicolaidis and the 1.99m Carracher, who finished 9th at FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Rome 2022, breezed past D’Artagnan Potts/Been Hood 21-7, 21-16 in the all-Australians quarterfinal encounter.
Potts and Hood earlier recovered from the first-set loss to beat Thailand’s fifth seeds Banlue Nakprakhong/Wachirawit Muadpha 21-23, 21-16, 15-11 in Round of 16.
In the eagerly-anticipated semifinals, Australians Nicolaidis/Carracher will next go up against Japan’s s Fukushima/Kurokawa, who saw off Qatar’s 7th seeds Binaziz Elmajid Saifeddine/Mahmoud Assam Ahmed 21-15, 21-17 in the quarterfinals.
Thailand’s Pithak and Poravid, who captured their first Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour gold medal in the Subic Bay Futures event in Philippines last December, booked their semifinals berth after 2-0 (21-17, 26-24) win against Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Ya-Jen/Wu Shin-Shian.
In the Round of 16 earlier, Pithak and Poravid put it past the spirited Ashfiya Mohammad/Pribadi Danangsyah from Indonesia 2-1 (21-14, 20-22, 16-14), while Hsieh and Wu stunned Japan’s 10th seeds Kai Kurokawa/Shiro Furuta 23-21, 21-17.
In the semifinals, Thais Pithak and Poravid will challenge Kiwis Fuller and Nicklin, fresh from taking silver medal at the Wenzhou Cangnan Futures event in China early this week. The New Zealanders cruised past Thailand’s third seeds Surin Jongkhlang and Dunwinit Kaewsai 21-9, 21-15 in 29 minutes in the quarterfinals earlier.
On Sunday, the final day of the AVC Beach Tour Penghu Open, the semifinals in both men’s and women’s events will be held in the morning session. The third-place playoff and final showdowns will take place in the afternoon, followed by the awards presentation and closing ceremony.
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