Branagh, Youngs Win Match and Pool

Aug. 13, 2008, 2:11 p.m. (ET)

B.J. Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

BEIJING (Aug. 13, 2008) – The U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.) finished Olympic pool play with its third-straight victory on Wednesday as it defeated Cuba’s Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta, 21-19, 13-21 and 15-12 at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground.

The victory means Branagh and Youngs win Pool E with a 3-0 record and will advance as the top seed from the pool. Germany’s Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau will advance as the second seeds at 2-1. Crespo and Esteves are 1-2.

On Wednesday, Youngs was credited with 25 kills, one block and one ace. Branagh had 14 kills, two blocks and two aces.

Branagh and Youngs struggled with 21 errors, including 10 service faults. The problems seemed to hit them most in the second set.

“They served well and we had trouble passing,” Branagh said. “We got frustrated for a while but we came back in the third. This was a big match for us to win.”

The first set stayed close until the score was tied at 14-14. The U.S. team took the lead on a Youngs’ kill and made it two points on a Branagh kill. It proved to be enough of a cushion, although the set was tight until the very end. Branagh and Youngs reached set point first at 20-18, but Crespo held it off with a kill. Youngs came back with a tip for the 21-19 set victory.

Branagh and Youngs took a 4-2 lead in the second set, but the errors started creeping in. Estevez received the serve trailing 4-3 and went on a 4-0 run, including two U.S. hitting errors and an ace by Crespo. Branagh stemmed the tide with a kill, but the damage was done. Two points later, Cuba went on a 5-0 run to put the set out of reach.

The two teams reached a tied score at 4-4 in the third set, but the Americans scored the next two points on a Branagh kill and a Branagh block to take the lead for good. Cuba kept the pressure on and trailed by one point at 10-9, but two straight kills by Youngs held off the Cubans.

In men’s action on Wednesday evening, Latvia’s 23rd-ranked Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs upset Switzerland’s 11th-seeded Sascha Heyer and Patrick Heuscher, meaning that the U.S. men’s team of Phil Dalhauesser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Todd Rogers (Sant Barbara, Calif.) with a record of 1-2, will advance tom their pool as the second seed.

Pool E Schedule and Results
Aug. 11: Branagh/Youngs USA [5] def. Pohl/Rau GER [8], 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) 0:46
Aug. 11: Esteves Ribalta/M. Crespo CUB [17] def. Kadijk R./Mooren NED [20], 2-0 (21-11, 21-15) 0:34
Aug. 9: Pohl/Rau GER [8] def. Esteves Ribalta/M. Crespo CUB [17], 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) 0:47
Aug. 9: Branagh/Youngs USA [5] def. Kadijk R./Mooren NED [20], 2-0 (21-19, 27-25) 0:50
Aug. 13: Pohl/Rau GER [8] def. Kadijk R./Mooren NED [20], 2-0 (21-19, 21-18)
Aug. 13: Branagh/Youngs USA [5] def. Esteves Ribalta/M. Crespo CUB [17] , 2-1 (21-19, 13-21, 15-12) 

Pool E Standings

Team Points Record
Branagh/Youngs 6 3-0
Pohl/Rau 5 2-1
Esteves Ribalta/M. Crespo 3 1-2
Kadijk R./Mooren 3 0-3