Qinzhou, China, October 12, 2017 – Title favourites April Ross and Kelly Claes of the United States crashed out of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Qinzhou Open here on Thursday as they lost to Poland’s 30th seeds Kinga Kolosinska and Katarzyna Kociolek in the first round of the single elimination women’s tournament.
“Single elimination is different, it would be nice to have a game to kind of get going and a second chance. But we know this is sport and we can’t always get that,” said April, who had paired with Kerri Walsh Jennings to win the Fuzhou Open in China last year. “I know Kinga and Katarzyna are very good and I knew that it was a really good team that we were up against. They were just much more ready than we were.”
“We have been doing our best, and we finished like that, because we were focused throughout the game, we were determined to win,” said Kociolek.
Falling behind 13-8 in the first set of the centre court match, third-seeded Ross/Claes fought hard to pull back to 19-18, but a serving mistake by Ross gave the Polish duo a 20-18 lead. Claes landed a smart dink to make it 20-19, only to find Kociolek clinch the set winner with a smash. In the second set, the Polish tandem jumped to a 13-8 lead and went on to seal the victory at 21-15.
“It was like a moment that we missed a few balls. We told ourselves, ‘Come on, last two balls,’ and we did it,” said Kociolek. “Coming into the second set, we felt more confident.”
April thought inconsistency and mistakes cost them the match. “It’s just not being sharp. We closed the gap and then I missed a serve and that was kind of the story of the entire match,” she said. “We were doing something good, and then we were doing something bad. If we were more consistent, our good is good enough is win, but we just made too many mistakes.”
Playing together for the first time in a World Tour event, Kolosinska/Kociolek want to have fun in Qinzhou.
“We want to have fun. We know we can win. We’ll do our best to get the best position possible,” said Kolosinska.
Ross/Claes’ compatriots Summer Ross/Brooke Sweat and Nicole Branagh/Lauren Fendrick both reached the second round of the women’s Main Draw with respective straight-set wins on Thursday.
Home medal hopefuls Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi got off to a winning start by beating Victoria Palmer/Jessica Grimson of England in straight sets.
Top-seeded Wang/Xia secured their place in the women’s top 16 with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-12) victory. The British girls surprisingly built a 11-9 cushion in the first set, but Wang/Xia answered with a 5-1 burst to go up at 16-12 and went on to take the first set. In the second set, the Chinese duo pulled away midway on the back of a 7-1 run for an unshakable 19-10 advantage before Xia wrapped up the match with an ace.
Wang, who had taken a break after pairing with Yue Yuan to win the gold medal of the Chinese National Games in early September, was a bit surprised with the comfortable win.
“I am a little surprised with the way we played, because I have had very little training since the end of the National Games,” said Wang. “I have to thank my partner, she is more energetic on the court than I am.”
It’s the second tournament for Wang/Xia as a team after their first combination at the Asian Beach Games in Vietnam last September when they finished with a bronze.
“We want to improve our combination through this tournament and hopefully we can play better and better together,” Wang added.
In the absence of Beijing Olympic bronze medallist and former world champion Xue Chen, Wang/Xia were the top contenders from the host country.
“It’s the first time that Qinzhou hosts a World Tour event and we want to show the passion of the sport to the local fans,” Wang said.
The other two Chinese tandems in contention both crashed out of the women’s tournament. Wang Xinxin/Yuan Lvwen lost to Australia’s Louise Bawden/Jessyka Ngauamo 2-0 (21-18, 21-14) and Cao Shuting/Zeng Jinjin was beaten by Germany’s Kim Behrens/Sandra Ittlinger 2-0 (21-9, 21-15).
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