Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani secure semifinal spot at Xiamen Open

Xiamen, China, October 11, 2014 – Vasiliki Arvaniti and
Maria Tsiartsiani from Greece performed two spectacular comebacks to reach the
semifinal at the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open on Saturday.
The $150,000 Xiamen Open is the third visit to China for the 2014 FIVB World
Tour and the second consecutive year in Xiamen.

It was not an easy road to the semifinal for Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani,
but it did prove the stamina and sheer determination of the Greek pair. Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani
came back from losing the first set of both their matches and were the team
that spent by far the longest time on court on the penultimate day of the Xiamen

Their third round match was against Martina Bonnerová
and Barbora Hermannová from Czech Republic. The Czech pair were showing fine
form in Xiamen and had already beaten top seeds Juliana Felisberta Silva and
Maria Antonelli from Brazil on the way to the knock-outs.

The two powerful teams were evenly pitched in terms of
strength and this reflected itself in the score with neither team letting go of
the set points. A number of unforced Czech errors in the final set led Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani
to the win and a place in the semifinal,
(21-23, 23-21, 20-18).

“They’ve been playing really well the whole tournament,
so we knew it would be a tough game. It was a big fight but it was really
important that we kept on playing after losing our not so good first set. It
was a really fair game but I’m really happy that it was us that won in the
end,” said Tsiartsiani.

The long term partners since 2009 are back together
after Tsiartsiani took a year of maternity leave in 2013.

“We’re feeling really amazing because it’s our first
year that we’re playing together again after 2012 when Maria gave birth to her
daughter and now we feel like we are reaching the level that we want. We are
very happy that we are playing very steady in this tournament with patience and
with good performance,” said Arvaniti.

In the morning Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani had also come from
behind to triumph against Switzerland’s Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Vergé-Dépré
2-1 (13-21, 23-21, 15-13).

“They are a really good team, we really respect them a
lot, but it was also a big fight, it was also a very close game. We are really
trying to play better now and reach our level and it feels good to play these
teams on the same level and beat them,” said Tsiartsiani.

Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani now have the unenviable task of
facing Xiamen Open top seeds Juliana Felisberta Silva and Maria Antonelli from
Brazil in the semifinal on Sunday.

seeded qualifiers Hunkus/Vanzwieten into semis

USA’s Tealle Hunkus and Kendra Vanzwieten earned a bye
directly into the Xiamen Open main draw as top seeded qualifiers and have not
looked back. In the pair's first major tournament together, Hunkus/Vanzwieten posted
two wins on Saturday to enter the semifinal where they will meet China’s Wang
Fan and Yue Yuan.

Their round three match saw the US pair up against Germany’s
Kim Behrens and Sandra Seyfferth. In what seemed to be the first respite from
the wind of the whole week, the two teams experienced unusually calm conditions
for the match.

The first set was very evenly paced with the pairs
trading point for point all the way up to 20-20. Behrens/Seyfferth, skilled in
finding the edge of the court, secured the set 22-20.

The German pair then established a four point lead over
Hunkus/Vanzwieten in the second, before a technical timeout gave the US pair
chance to discuss a change in tactic that turned the set around in their

The third set saw a number of long rallies with both
teams working hard for every physically gruelling point and it was Hunkus/Vanzwieten
who finally clinched the win 2-1
(20-22, 21-18, 15-12).

“I think we had to make adjustments, they came in really
aggressive and swinging really hard so we made mid match adjustments and
started talking to each other a lot and I think that was key for us. Then we
started serving tough which I think we weren’t doing as well in that first set,
so those adjustments really helped us,” said Hunkus.

“This morning was really, really windy. But this match
was fun to play our game a little bit more with good passing and setting, a lot
more comfortable I would say,” said Vanzwieten.

In their morning round two match the USA pair beat
Canada’s Jamie Lynn Broder and Kristina Valjas, 2-0 (21-17, 22-20).

“It was kind of tough, they did the same thing against
us where they came out swinging so we made some defensive adjustments and talked
a little bit as far as blocking and defence responsibilities and I think it
worked out well for us too. It was a tight match though, a great match, they
played really well,” said Hunkus.

“We hope to improve our side I think. Each match we’re
getting better as a team so I’m hoping to continue that and adjust as we go,
but to keep things on our side for sure,” said Vanzwieten.

The women’s medal for the 2014 FIVB Xiamen Open will be
contended on Sunday.

With the Grand Slam portion of the 2014 FIVB World Tour
now complete, the tour continues after Xiamen with four more FIVB Open events.
The tour will travel to Argentina for the FIVB Parana Open (Oct. 28-Nov. 2)
before heading to Doha for the men-only FIVB Qatar Open (Nov. 4-8). India will
then host the double-gender FIVB Vizag Open (Nov. 25-30), before the 2014
calendar comes to a close in South Africa with the double-gender FIVB Mangaung
Open (Dec. 9-14).


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