Shanghai Open Volleyball: Top teams march into women’s top 16

Shanghai, May 3 (IANS) Top teams, including all the medal winners from the season-opening Fuzhou Open, marched into the women’s top 16 at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Shanghai Grand Slam here Friday.

Shanghai Grand Slam title holders Xue Chen/Zhang Xi from China beat Brazilian qualifiers Maria Clara Salgado Rufino/Carolina Solberg Salgado 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) Friday morning to clinch the top place in pool A with three straight wins, reports Xinhua.

The Salgado sisters stayed within 16-17 in the second set, but Xue/Zhang ran off four of the last five points to wrap up the match in 36 minutes and avoid a repeat of Thursday afternoon’s full set marathon against Russia’s Maria Prokopeva/Ekaterina Khomyakova.

“We made less mistakes than we did yesterday,” said Xue Chen, who combined with Zhang Xi to take the title of the Fuzhou Open last week. “We found our rhythm and it’ s good to win in two sets, especially after a tough tournament in Fuzhou.”

“Actually we were not in great shape last week and it took us much more energy than usual to play well, so we were a little bit tired coming into this tournament,” Xue added.

Thanks to the 2-0 victory, Xue/Zhang could rest their legs Friday afternoon as they earned a bye in the first elimination round where second and third finishers from eight round robin pools fought for their berths in the top 16.

Liliana Fernandez Steiner/Elasa Baquerizo McMillan of Spain and Germany’ s Karin Holtwick Ilka Semmler, who finished second and third to Xue/Zhang at the Fuzhou Open, also advanced to the top 16 as winners from respective round robin pools.

The $220,000 Shanghai Grand Slam, the first of a FIVB-record 10 Grand Slam events on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar, will continue Saturday with men’s semifinals and finals as well as two rounds of women’s elimination matches.

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