Unlikely Olympics seashore volleyball semis set as A Workforce performs Swiss, Aussies face Latvians

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Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich celebrate the move / Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Sure, you’ve probably had Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman going all the way.

But how many of you had the fifth seeded Australian Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy, who played against the 16th seeded Latvian couple Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka in one of the beach volleyball semifinals of the Olympic Games in Tokyo?

And so they are, while Ross and Klineman, who are seeded at No. 2, play on Thursday in the other semi-final against the twelfth seeded Joana Heidrich and Anouk Vérgé-Depre from Switzerland.

Conversely, it was a tough Tuesday for Canada. Not only did our northern neighbors lose in the men’s volleyball quarter-finals, but their two beach teams were grabbed as well.

Alix Klineman and April Ross book their ticket to the Olympic semifinals / Ed Chan, VBshots.com

In the order in Shiokaze Park on Tuesday:

Ross and Klineman opened the game with a 21-19, 21-19 win over the Germans Laura Ludwig and Maggie Kozuch.

Heidrich and Vérgé-Depre then upset the fourth-placed Brazilians Rebecca Cavalcanti and Ana Patricia Silva 21-19, 18-21, 15-12.

After a 10-hour break, the Latvians ousted 10-seeded Canadian pair Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson 21-13, 18-21, 15-11.

And then the Australians beat the other Canadians, top seeded pair Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan 21-15, 19-21, 15-12.

On Wednesday the men conquer the sand with their quarter-finals:

– Ilya Leshukov and Konstantin Semenov from Russia vs. Anders Mol and Christian Sorum from Norway

– Martins Plavins and Edgar Tocs from Latvia vs. Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho from Brazil

– Julius Thole and Clemens Wicker from Germany vs. Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy from ROC

– Cheriff Samba and Ahmed Tijan from Qater vs. Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo from Italy

Alix Klineman plays a low ditch over the net / Ed Chan, VBshots.com


Ross continued her quest to play for a third consecutive Olympic medal. She won silver in London in 2012 with Jen Kessy and bronze in Rio in 2016 with Kerri Walsh Jennings. Klineman is an Olympian for the first time.

“The field is so strong and there have been a lot of surprises,” said Ross. “We just go to every game to fight. I think you have to earn it every step of the way. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I have a medal, I know how to do it’, we have to fight really hard.

“The competition is so great. We’re thrilled to still be there, to be in the semi-finals is incredible. “

Ludwig won gold with Kira Walkenhorst in Rio.

“It’s a bit of a disappointment, but when we sleep (on it) we can be proud,” said Ludwig. “There were many ups and downs, but we had a lot of nice rallies. The Americans are a really good team, they serve well, they have good block defense. All in all, I think we made it difficult for them. They also made more mistakes than usual, or we definitely put them under pressure too.

“I’m proud of the way we played here as a team. We have had many ups and downs. It was a lot of fun to play. “

Of the four winners, only a few were more excited and celebrated with more joy than the Swiss, the first semi-finalists in their country.

“Great. It’s crazy. I don’t know, I can’t find the right words for it, but the feeling is incredible,” said Heidrich. “It’s crazy.”

You have only played the A-Team once before. Ross and Klineman won doubles at the FIVB Gstaad Major in 2018. They were supposed to play in Ostrava last June but Ross and Klineman were eliminated with an injury they never disclosed.

“We’re just looking forward to playing for the medals,” Vérgé-Depre said said. “First enjoy this moment of qualifying for the semi-finals, then concentrate again.”

What a run it was for Graudina. She and Kravcenoka qualified early for the Olympics, then won the NCAA championship with USC in May. Now she is Kravcenoka in the semifinals.

Latvia is a strong team, ”said Bansley. “They didn’t make a lot of mistakes, we didn’t get a lot of points in defense, so we really had to be on our side and we didn’t have that today.”

When asked whether it was a “Cinderella” story, Graudina had none of it.

“No, because we are a great team,” said Graudina. “We’ll see what happens, but we just like to play volleyball and we are on the pitch.”

The Latvians have never won a medal on the FIVB tour.

“We started playing really well at the end of 2019 and we would have a medal if Corona didn’t happen,” said Graudina. “So let’s just pick up where we left off in 2019.”

Canada had two teams in the quarter-finals for the first time, but the Australians made sure there would be no semi-finalists.

“It was unreal,” said Artacho. We worked so hard for this moment.

“It was disappointing that we faced the (Canadians) at such an early stage in the tournament. We have such a great relationship with the girls. We knew it was going to be a gold medal game and we had to come out strong and be very aggressive. And I’m just glad we made it. “

Obviously it was a surprise.

“They kept us under a lot of service pressure throughout the game and we didn’t do the same,” said Pavan, the former Nebraska star. “We allowed them to do their offense the way they wanted and we always caught up while they were on the offensive from the service line and held us back. I think that was the big difference.

“We started very slowly, I think that was clear. We play catching up all the time. We’ve been in a position before, maybe not in this tournament, and I think we’re really good at just going on and taking it all point by point. In set two we were able to turn the tiller and unfortunately lost our footing in set three. “

While Pavan went to Rio with Bansley, it was the first ever Olympiad for Humana Parades.

“I am very grateful for this experience and I am really happy that we could still compete here, represent Canada and continue to play,” said Humana-Paredes. “We definitely missed our goal, but I think we have learned a lot together over the years. We experienced incredible things and this is part of the journey.

“After that there is more. Yes, there is more. “

The Australian and Latvian pairs have played and split four times.

Graudina and Kravcenoka won a four-star tournament in Poland in 2018 and a four-star tournament in China in 2019.

Artacho and Clancy won when they met in 2018 in the billiards game at the Vienna Major and then a month ago in the billiards game in Gstaad and the result 21-17, 17-21, 15-12 promises a tough semi-final.

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Latvia’s Tina Graudina is trying to get a cover / Ed Chan, VBshots.com