Walsh/Ross overcome Heidrich/Zumkehr to make Xiamen Open semis

Xiamen, China, April 16, 2016 – Top seeds and title favorites Kerri Walsh and April Ross of the United States overcame tough challenge from defending event champions Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr from Switzerland to make the semifinals of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open here on Saturday afternoon.

After dropping their first set in five matches in Xiamen, Walsh/Ross rallied past the Swiss duo 2-0 (17-21, 21-17, 16-14) in the quarterfinal between the winners of 2013 Xiamen Grand Slam and 2015 Xiamen Open.

“I am really proud of us as a team, we created too much pressure on ourselves for this match I think, so we tried to play perfect for each other against them, because they are so good,” said Walsh, who had paired with Ross to win gold and silver at the season opening Rio Grand Slam and Vitoria Open. “We need to play more freely and I think at the end we played a little more freely in game three.”

After splitting the first two sets, the two teams traded leads for a tie at 14-all in the tiebreaker. Then Ross made a fine kill to make it 15-14 and Walsh clinched the match winner with an ace.

“We are so happy we won. I thought we could have come back and won game one, I am a little bit frustrated that we didn't do that, because I felt like we composed ourselves to a certain point, but then we gave up a couple of runs in the game and they were too good a team to do that,” Walsh added.

Ross found the 51-minute marathon battle a fun match to play. “I think it just required a couple of levels of intensity, they really brought it and they played really great,” said Ross. “It was really like a battle and it was more and more intense and it was a fun match to play, but I'm really glad we got the win.”

The American duo, 2-0 winners over Argentina’s sixth seeds Ana Gallay and Georgina Klug in the second round eliminations Saturday morning, appreciated the challenge from their opponents.

“We've played a lot of teams and touch matches and for us it's good because it's making us better, and they are showing us that we need to work on. I really appreciate the challenge of everyone,” Walsh stated.

Walsh/Ross will meet Austria’s 29th seeds Barbara Hansel/Stefanie Schwaiger in the semifinals Sunday morning. “Tomorrow will be a great day. We are excited that we are playing. We are looking forward to it,” Ross said.

Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré of Switzerland and Germany’s Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude will vie for the other spot in the women’s final.

Earlier on Saturday, Chinese medal hopefuls Xue Chen/Xia Xinyi crashed out of the Xiamen Open after losing to Heidrich/Zumkehr in straight sets (21-12, 21-17), while the 19-year-old Xia took the loss as a lesson.

“Every match here is very good experience for me,” she said. “I was marked by the players across the net and could not play my attack under pressure. So I will go back and improve on that and hopefully I can do better next time.”

The double-gender Xiamen Open will lower its curtain on Sunday with the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour to continue in Fuzhou next week.

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