Top seeds Wang/Yue off to good start in Main Draw at Xiamen Open

Xiamen, China, September 24, 2015 - China's top seeds Wang Fan and Yue Yuan got off to a good start in the women's Main Draw at the FIVB World Tour Xiamen Open with two straight-set wins on Thursday.

Wang/Yue, the runners-up at last year's Xiamen Open, outclassed Anastasia Barsuk/Alexandra Moiseeva from Russia 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) in the morning before easing past Australian wild card entrants Mariafe Artacho/Nicole Laird 2-0 (21-18, 21-12) in the afternoon.

The top seeds' match against Barsuk/Moiseeva began quite evenly as the scores were tied several times in the first set. With Yue able to pounce on every great set from Wang, the Chinese pair edged ahead. Yue spiked the ball straight down the line to end the set.

China came out strongly in the second set and established a four-point lead at 9-5. But the Russians fought hard to draw level at 13-13. Two brilliant blocks from Wang along with errors by Barsuk/Moiseeva put China in the driver's seat again. With the scores at 19-16 in favor of China, a long rally brought to a close by Wang's spike and then an ace service from Yue closed out the match in 37 minutes.

"We had never played against this Russian team before, so it took us time to get familiar with their tactics. We're not in our best shape today, as we played many games recently, both Wang and I feel very tired," said Yue.

"My blocking was pretty good, but I fared poorly in reception and attacks. I need to work hard on these areas," said Wang.

Facing Artacho Del Solar/Laird on the center court, Wang/Yue started slowly again in the first set but still kept a slight lead throughout. The local favorites hit their strides early in the second with Yue's ability to find the space and strong blocking by Wang.

"Like the morning match against the Russian team, I hit my form slowly again. Maybe it's because we just returned from Europe, we have not overcome the time difference yet," said Yue.

It was also a great opening day of main draw play for Germany's Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler. Their first match saw a win against China's Wang Yuanyuan/Tang Ningya 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) before they beat France's Laura Longuet/Alexandra Jupiter 2-0 (21-15, 21-14) in the afternoon.

"The heat is kind of exhausting. We're not used to the weather here, but we made the best out of us. In the end there was two wins for us. That's all that counts," said Semmler.

In one of the tighest matches of the day, German qualifiers Teresa Mersmann/Isabel Schneider dug deep to beat compatriots Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude 2-1 (16-21, 21-19, 15-12). After dropping the first set, Mersmann/Schneider played amazing block defence en route to an impressive come-from-behind win.

"It was a very tough match. Last week at the German championship Laboureur and Sude beat us 2-0, so we're happy that we won today. Teresa had some very good blocks. That helped us a lot," said Schneider.

Mersmann/Schneider then followed up with a quick 2-0 (21-13, 21-13) win over Swiss team Nina Betschart/Nicole Eiholzer in half an hour to finish the day on top of Pool F.

Four other teams remain unbeaten after two rounds of pool play on Thursday. They are Lane Carico/Summer Ross from the USA, Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre from Spain, Evgenia Ukolova/Ekaterina Birlova from Russia, Victoria Bieneck/JuliaGro├čner from Germany.

The double-gender $150,000 FIVB Xiamen Open is the final point's event on the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball calendar. The event is being held at the Guanyinshan Gold Beach in the Siming District of the Fujian Province. The winning teams in each gender will share the $11,000 first-place prize.


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