After two days of intense competition, the Round of 12 and quarterfinal action got underway on Saturday at the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Beach Volleyball World Tour – Langkawi Open 2018.

The packed day of matches that began with the round of 12 followed by the quarterfinals produced surprise results with the teams that made it through Thursday’s qualification rounds taking most of the limelight.

Through to Sunday morning’s men’s semi-finals with wins in their respective round of 12 and quarterfinal matches were the three qualifiers – Petr Bakhnar/Taras Myskiv (Russia, RUS), Simon Frühbauer/Jörg Wutzl (Austria, AUT) and Paul Becker/Eric Stadie (Germany, GER) along with winners from the recent Satun World Tour event in Thailand, Nuttanon Inkiew/Sedtawat Padsawud (Thailand, THA).

Meanwhile, the four ladies’ teams making it through to the semi-finals were Ksenia Dabizha/Daria Mastikova (Russia, RUS), Phoebe Bell/Jessyka Ngauamo (Australia, AUS), qualifiers Katja Stam/Julia Wouters (Netherlands, NED) and Martina Bonnerova/Tereza Pluharova (Czech Republic, CZE).

First to play on centre-court on Saturday morning were Thai favourites I.Nuttanon /P.Sedtawat (THA) who dispatched Slovenian Danijel Pokeršnik/Tadej Bozenk (SLO) in a game that went to three sets.

Playing more consistently, the Thai pair took the decider setting up an encounter with the German qualifiers, Max-Jonas Karpa/Milan Sievers (GER).

The Germans had already gone through to the quarterfinal on a bye after their two wins on Friday. Despite playing the extra game, the much-fancied Thais proved too strong when managed to outplay Karpa/Sievers.

With each taking a set a piece, it took a decider to break the deadlock. After racing ahead at the start of the third set, the Thais never really looked enroute to a victory and a coveted semi-final spot.

Commenting after their game, I.Nuttanon /P.Sedtawat notes, “It was a difficult game but we managed to win. They [the Germans] are really tall, so we had to strategise and we managed to block their shots at the net. We are really happy with the way we played and will continue to push tomorrow.”

Having already made their mark through the qualification round and first pool phase of the tournament, the Russians Bakhnar/ Myskiv (RUS) continued that momentum coming into their match.

As one of the teams automatically through to the final eight after their two wins on Friday, the Russians took full advantage of the rest to see off the challenge from Canadians Cameron Wheelan/Felipe Humana-Paredes (CAN).

The win will see the Russian pair square off against I.Nuttanon /P.Sedtawat in the semi-finals on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, German qualifiers Becker/Stadie (GER) made it a weekend to savour when they first defeated Thai challengers Surin/K.Adisorn (THA) in their Round of 12 match enroute to their quarterfinal game against top-seeds Ade Candra Rachmawan/Mohammad Ashfiya (INA).

Living up to the bill, the two teams were evenly matched when they claimed a set each, forcing the game to a tiebreaker third set. Despite the intense heat, it was the Germans who remained cool to take the game from the top-seeds for a semi-final berth.

The other qualifier team to shine were Austria’s Frühbauer/Wutzl (AUT) who like the Russian pair, had earned an automatic quarterfinal spot after their stellar performance on Friday.

Leveraging on the time off in the morning, the Austrians took full advantage to see off the challenge from Indonesian pair Gilang Ramadhan/Danangsyah Pribadi (INA) in straight sets.

Their victory sets up an exciting Austria versus Germany duel as they face off against Becker/Stadie.

In the women’s competition, the action saw Russians Dabizha/Mastikova (RUS) taking full advantage of their automatic quarterfinal spot to defeat Japan’s Chiyo Suzuki/Reika Murakami (JPN).

Though the Japanese pair had secured their quarterfinal berth with an emphatic win over Australia’s Brittany Kendall/Stefanie Weller (AUS), they could not contend against the more dominant Russians who routed them enroute to a place in the final four.

 Meanwhile, Dutch qualifiers Stam/Wouters (NED) also had the advantage of the morning off after automatically qualifying to the final eight.

That helped them overcome the challenge of Germans Leonie Klinke/Lisa-Sophie Kotzan (GER) for their spot in the final four. The Germans had earlier defeated Latvians Marta Ozolina/Agnese Caica (LAT) but could not find a way pass the Dutch in the afternoon’s quarterfinal game.

Similarly, automatic quarterfinalists Bonnerova/Pluharova (CZE) of the Czech Republic defeated Paraguay’s Michelle Sharon Valiente Amarilla/Erika Sofia Mongelos Bobadilla (PAR) for a spot in the semi-final.

Though the Paraguayan pair had earlier defeated Chinese Taipei’s Nai-Han Kou/Pi Hsin Liu (TPE), they could not get past the Czechs. Bonnerova/Pluharova’s victory will see them face off Stam/Wouters in the other women’s semi-final game on Saturday.

 The final day of action on Sunday will kick off semi-final and medals-determining matches. In addition to valuable ranking points, the competitors can also look forward to a share of the US Dollar $10,000 prize purse.

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