Hansel/Schwaiger topple Walsh/Ross to make Xiamen Open women’s final

Xiamen, China, April 17, 2016 – Austrian qualifiers Barbara Hansel and Stefanie Schwaiger fought back to beat top seeds Kerri Walsh and April Ross of the United States in a full set thriller Sunday morning to make the women’s final of the $150,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open.

Hansel/Schwaiger, who had produced a series of upset wins including a 2-1 triumph over second seeds Karla Borger/Britta Büthe of Germany in Saturday’s quarterfinals, recovered from a sluggish start to tame the American title favorites 2-1 (9-21, 21-18, 15-12).

After dropping the first set without resistance, Hansel/Schwaiger found back their game in the second. Schwaiger produced a pair of aces to pull the Austrians up at 18-14 and they held on to level one set back.

In the tiebreaker, the 29th seeds squandered a 2-0 lead to fall behind 9-5. Then the turning point came as the Austrian duo amazingly ran off six points in a row on back of three aces of Schwaiger to overtake the lead at 11-9. A smart dink of Walsh and an ace by Ross pulled it back at 11-all, only to find the Austrians wrap up the match with a 4-1 run.

“It was really amazing. We started in qualifications and we had nothing to lose,” said Schwaiger. “So we said to ourselves after the first set, ‘we played with too much pressure and why? We are in the semifinals, we can win or lose and we just play’. I think it's the important thing that we switched.”

“So our attitude changed (in the second and third set), because we made too much pressure for us and we wanted to win, but anybody with that kind of pressure could not do it, so we said just play and enjoy the game,” she added.

“We had not really a good start, they made much pressure on us, somehow we kept them fighting and they had some pressure and then it went for us,” Hansel echoed.

Schwaiger made a total of six aces from the second half of the second set to the end of the match and Hansel added one in the game-ending 4-1 run.

“You have to risk. They are such a good team. If you just make easy serves, they make the points. I don't know. We really had a good feeling at service, so we just tried to do our best,” said Schwaiger.

In the second semifinal match, fifth seeds Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré of Switzerland held off Germany’s 15th seeds Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude 2-1 (21-18, 16-21, 15-13) to meet Hansel/Schwaiger in the final.

The women’s bronze medal match and gold medal match are slated for Sunday afternoon.

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