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Beach Volleyball: Chen, Xia dazzle in Durban for second straight gold

Newcomer Xia Xinyi (left), 16, and experienced Chen Xue, 24, won the season-ending Durban Open for their second straight gold in only their third event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. Photos: FIVB.

Newcomer Xia Xinyi (left), 16, and experienced Chen Xue, 24, won the season-ending Durban Open for their second straight gold in only their third event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. Photos: FIVB.

December 15, 2013: After winning the Phuket Open in Thailand last month, China’s new pairing of Chen Xue and teenager Xia Xinyi won the season-ending Durban Open in South Africa for their second straight gold medal on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.

 

The experienced Chen, 24, and newcomer Xia, just 16, defeated Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) in the final at Durban’s New Beach.

 

The first set started off evenly, with the Germans targeting young Xia, but the talented teen stood her ground and from 15-15 the Chinese took the lead and closed out the opener.

 

Chen watches as Xia sets her up in the final on Durban's New Beach.

Chen watches as Xia sets her up in the final on Durban’s New Beach.

After winning the first set, Xia grew in confidence and set the audience on fire with some amazing digs, while Laboureur and Sude started making more unforced errors. The 1.90-metre tall Chen claimed the gold with a powerful spike on China’s first match point.

 

It was the pair’s second medal in only three events together. Chen and Xia teamed up after Zhang Xi – Chen’s partner for eight years – decided to take a break at the end of the season, after she and Chen had already won the Fuzhou Open, the World Championships in Stare Jablonki and the Gstaad Grand Slam this year.

 

Chen said: “When I knew I was going to play with Xinyi, I had to do more, I had to be better than before. Seriously, I thought there was no way we could get a medal this year and my goal was to get into the top eight.”

 

Xia Xinyi goes on the attack against Germany’s Julia Sude.

Xia Xinyi goes on the attack against Germany’s Julia Sude.

Xia is still in high school and started playing beach volleyball only two years ago, but is set for an exciting top-flight career after an astonishing start on the World Tour.

 

“Playing in the final cheers me up and I want to play more games to improve myself and get more results,” she said.

 

China’s Chen and Xia (centre) flanked by Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude (left) and USA’s Whitney Pavlik and Jennifer Kessy (right)

China’s Chen and Xia (centre) flanked by Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude (left) and USA’s Whitney Pavlik and Jennifer Kessy (right)

Chen and Xia defeated another German duo, Teresa Mersmann and Isabel Schneider, 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) in the semi-finals.

 

Laboureur and Sude, won 2-1 (21-16, 24-26, 15-12) against USA’s Jennifer Kessy and Whitney Pavlik, who went on to beat Mersmann and  Schneider for the bronze medal.

 

In the men’s competition, Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs beat Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Solovejs 2-1 (15-21, 21-17, 15-10) in an all-Latvian final, having earlier secured the World Tour title.

 

“To get two titles in the same tournament, that is pretty amazing. It feels very good”, said Smedins after the team’s third gold medal of the year, while they also picked up two silvers and one bronze.

 

Brazil’s Pedro Solberg and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, number two on the ranking, won the bronze medal in Durban.

 

Source: FIVB.

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