Walsh Jennings works magic as USA rout China in Yangzhou

Yangzhou, China, October 12, 2018 – The United States’ Kerri Walsh Jennings showed masterclass in finishing under pressure to overcome top Chinese pair Wang Fan and Xue Chen in their FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Yangzhou 4-star pool play encounter.

Walsh Jennings and partner Kelly Claes took the first set, but their strong Chinese rivals did not give up easily and fought hard to force the tie-break set. The USA regained their composure in the third frame to top Pool H after completing a 2-1 (21-17, 17-21, 15-11) win on Friday morning.

“We just needed to focus on being aggressive,” Claes said. “I needed to get the set a little bit tighter for Kerri so she can just get up and hit the ball. I tuned up my serve by being more aggressive on that. Fixing those two things and some consistent passing got us there.”

The USA pair, who came all the way from qualification, displayed a lot of flair on court especially from the three-time gold medallist Walsh Jennings.

“Kerri is a gift and it is amazing to have this opportunity to play with her,” Claes said. “She has been helping me with many things on and off the court and I am thankful for that.

Xue highlighted the strength of their opponent and underlined the things missing on their game.

“I’ve trained with them before so I know how hard it is to compete with them,” Xue said. “They are a tall team and their block gave us a lot of difficulties. We played well in the second set but we had some problems in reception in the first and third sets, and that affected our attack.”

Later in the day, Xue and Wang recovered with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) victory over the Netherlands’ Joy Stubbe and Marleen van Iersel.

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Ana Patricia Silva and Rebecca Cavalcanti outplayed top seeds Barbara Seixas and Fernanda Alves 2-1 (21-17, 22-20, 15-10) in the all-Brazilian encounter in Pool A, while USA’s Betsi Flint and Emily Day defeated their second-seeded compatriots Alexandra Klineman and April Ross 2-0 (21-18, 21-19).

Meanwhile, Sarah Pavan and Melissa-Humana Paredes have shown no signs of slowing down with a straight-set (21-13, 21-15) win to dominate in Pool D.

Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterian Birlova, USA’s Emily Stockman and Kelley Larsen, Switzerland’s Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli and Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth advanced to the Round of 16 after completing two wins in the pool play round.


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