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Beach Volleyball: Canadians golden in Fuzhou; Chinese denied bronze

Jamie Lyn Broder (left) and Kristina Valjas celebrate victory at the Fuzhou Open. Photos: FIVB.

Jamie Lyn Broder (left) and Kristina Valjas celebrate victory at the Fuzhou Open. Photos: FIVB.

April 26, 2015: Jamie Lyn Broder and Kristina Valjas from Canada defied the odds to win the Fuzhou Open in China, the first event of this year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour and opening event in the Olympic qualifying window.

 

The self-confessed underdogs appeared anything but on Sunday as they beat defending champions Kerri Walsh and April Ross of the USA 28-26, 14-21, 15-13 in a gripping semi-final before beating Germans Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude 21-17, 23-21 in the gold-medal match.

 

China’s Wang Fan and Yue Yuan had lost to the German duo in the first semi-final and again fell short in the bronze-medal match, with Walsh and Ross coming from behind to win 13-21, 21-13, 15-11 at the purpose-built venue in Mianjiang Riverside Park.

 

Broder and Valjas won all of their seven matches in Fuzhou, with the former’s digs and the latter’s work at the net proving decisive in the final.

 

“Gold is the colour; we wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Broder said. “What a tournament, we battled through a lot of three sets yesterday and today. A lot of really tough opponents so it feels so good to come away on top.”

 

Valjas added: “I’m in shock. We knew that they were going to be strong coming in. They are both solid players with great execution so we had to match that with our execution. We had to come and bring our aggressive attacks because that’s our game and that’s how we win.”

 

“It’s a great starting off point. The first tournament of the year and we’re in Olympic qualification. It’s awesome to have such a strong start and I think it’s just something we can continue to build on and use to feel confidence for future events.”

 

Wang Fan (right) spikes against Kerri Walsh in the bronze-medal match.

Wang Fan (right) spikes against Kerri Walsh in the bronze-medal match.

Earlier, local favourites Wang and Yue came out hard in the first game of the third-place playoff, allowing little chance for Ross to exercise her big hits as the Chinese pair won the first game.

 

Walsh and Ross turned the match around, dominating the second the set as the Chinese team had done in the first. In the tiebreak, Yue did a great job of receiving the US powerful attacks, but the Americans had found their rhythm and wrapped up the match.

 

“For me it’s a little bitter sweet,” Walsh said. “I’m so proud that we won against a very, very good Chinese team. We trained against them a couple of times in the pre-season, so it was a great match and we expected it to be.”

 

Last year Wang and Yue claimed silver in home events at the Shanghai Grand Slam and Xiamen Open, and although they were denied a medal in Fuzhou, Yue said the duo leant a lot for the coming season.

 

“We came out strong in the first set, but we got stuck in their rhythm in the second set. We’ve found out our weak points at this tournament. We’ve got to know how to improve and how to play those strong teams when we meet them again,” Yue said.

 

“We are heading to Shanghai next week, where we will train for three weeks and prepare for the Grand Slams and the World Championship.”

 

On Saturday, Markus Böckermann and Lars Flüggen from Germany defeated former world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands to win the men’s competition.

 

Source: FIVB (www.fivb.org); Editing by SportAsia

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