Final Four Women's Teams Determined At World Series Of Beach Volleyball

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The women's field at the World Series of Beach Volleyball's Long Beach President's Cup has been whittled down to four teams.

With the international teams playing on the opposite side of the bracket from the Americans--to guarantee a U.S. vs. international final--Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca headlined the first pair of quarterfinal matches, defeating Germans Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude 21-15, 21-16. These two teams faced off last week in the gold-medal match of the FIVB Gstaad Major, a meeting which the German team won in straight sets. The pairs are now 1-1 against each other so far this year.

Talita and Larissa will face 2016 Olympic gold medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in tomorrow's semifinals. Ludwig and Walkenhorst snuck past Canadians Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson 23-21, 21-16 in their quarterfinal match.

The two American teams meeting in tomorrow’s second semifinal will be recent college grads Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes and April Ross and Lauren Fendrick. Claes and Hughes took down Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman in their quarterfinal match, and Ross and Fendrick eliminated Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross 24-22, 21-13.

Sweat and Summer Ross had the momentum at the start of their quarterfinal match, taking the lead and having four opportunities to close out the first set, but April Ross and Lauren Fendrick kept fighting. They overcame those four set points and got an opportunity of their own at 23-22 before closing out the set 24-22. In the second set, Fendrick and April Ross continued to roll, holding Sweat and Summer Ross to fewer than 15 points.

It took Hughes and Claes three sets to get past their quarterfinal challengers DiCello and Stockman, but they got the win in the end 21-14, 13-21, 15-12, setting up a semifinal date with April Ross and Fendrick.

The two remaining American teams were scheduled to face each other in pool play, but April Ross chose to forfeit that match since she and Fendrick were guaranteed to break out of pool play no matter what the result of that match was. Ross has been dealing with a toe injury she sustained during the AVP New York City Open, and wanted to minimized the impact on it. Instead of avoiding a date with the pair of three-time NCAA beach volleyball champs, however, they only postponed it, and the two teams will play each other tomorrow morning in the semifinals.

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