Russia’s Abalakina/Dabizha defeat Juliana/Carol Horta to enter Nantong semis

 Nantong, China, June 24, 2017 – Russia’s Yulia Abalakina and Ksenia Dabizha are through to their first ever FIVB World Tour final four after defeating Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Da Silva and Carolina Horta Maximo, 2-1 (21-16, 17-21, 15-12) at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, Silk Tour Nantong Open.

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Abalakina/Dabizha defeated Vanuatu’s Loti Joe and Linline Matauatu, 2-0 (22-20, 21-11) before facing the Monaco gold medallists, Juliana/Carol Horta in the quarterfinal. In a battle of wits in the tie-break the Russians held out for the win and enter their first ever FIVB World Tour semifinal.

“We’re so happy, it was a surprise for us but we had good concentration so we could do it. The match was very difficult against these girls, it’s very hot weather, no wind and it’s a very strong team,” said Abalakina.

Russia's Yulia Abalakina and Ksenia Dabizha celebrate the win

The best result for the Russian pair prior to Nantong was a quarterfinal finish at the Langkawi one-star event this April.

“It’s the first time we will play in the semifinal, so it’s a great experience for us, we’re very happy, it’s unbelievable,” said Abalakina.

It was a tough day for China’s Xinxin Wang and two-time Olympian Chen Xue on the road to their semifinal position. In the quarterfinal, they met England’s Victoria Palmer and Jessica Grimson in a match that the Chinese pair appeared to dominate at first, but the tables turned sending the match into the tie-break, 2-1 (21-12, 15-21, 15-10).

The quarterfinal pitted Wang X. X/Xue against Canada’s Megan Nagy and Marie-Christine Lapointe. It was another long match for both teams with Nagy/Lapointe not quite able to close in two and Wang X. X/Xue jumped on the tie-break for a place in the Nantong Open semifinal, 2-1 (19-21, 23-21, 15-10).

China's Xinxin Wang meets Canada's Marie-Christine Lapointe at the net

“This is the first time that my current partner and I to reach the final four in the World Tour, so it’s memorable for us. Although this match exposed a lot of our problems, it was good for our confidence which we are further developing little by little through training” said Xue.

“I’m really happy to reach the first four. Xue helped me a lot in the court and we have a lot to work on for the future,” said Wang X. X.

The result for Nagy/Lapointe is one step further for the Canadians, after reaching the round of 16 at the Tangshan Open the previous week.

The second Chinese pair to enter the semifinal is Shuhui Wen and Xinyi Xia. The Tangshan Open silver medallists made light work of their two matches, closing them both out in 34 minute straight sets, first against Czech team Magdalena Dostalova and Karolina Rehackova, 2-0 (21-16, 21-13) and then against Japan’s Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishii, 2-0 (21-16, 21-13).

China's Xinyi Xia at the net against Japan's Megumi Murakami (right) and Miki Ishii

Lithuania’s Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte continue their incredible run in China, first earning their first ever bronze at the Tangshan Open and again securing their place in the Nantong Open semifinal.

Thailand's Tanarattha Udomchavee faces Lithuania's Ieva Dumbauskaite

It was straight sets all the way for Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte first defeating Chile’s Maria Francisca Rivas Zapata and Maria del Pilar Mardones, 2-0 (21-18, 21-16) and then Thailand’s Varapatsorn Radarong and Tanarattha Udomchavee, 2-0 (21-14, 21-16).


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