Branagh, Turner Reach Semifinals in China

Nov. 14, 2008, 4:19 p.m. (ET)
B.J. Hoeptner Evans
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800

Release by:
Jeff Lajoie
Intern, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: (719) 228-6800

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 14, 2008) - A week after finishing second in their first FIVB event as partners, Americans Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Tyra Turner (Fort Myers Beach, Fla.) find themselves in the semifinals of the SWATCH FIVB Beach World Tour event in Sanya, China after two more wins on Friday.

Branagh and Turner have yet to drop a set through four matches of play, dispatching two opponents in Friday's third and fourth rounds. The second-seeded Americans defeated Lu Wang and Ying Li of China, 21-15, 21-17, in 35 minutes in Round 3 before knocking off Brazilians Maria Antonelli and Vanilda dos Santos Leão, 21-18, 21-17, in 39 minutes.

"It's wonderful to make the semifinals, I think we played pretty well," Turner told the FIVB through an interpreter. "We changed our position and felt very comfortable."

While Branagh and Turner were moving right through the main draw, fellow Americans and top seeds Jen Boss (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.) ran into a bit of a speed bump on Friday. Winners of last week's FIVB event in Thailand, Boss and Ross won their first two matches on Thursday to advance to the third round.

Playing China's Jie Wang and Man Zuo on Friday however, the native Californians suffered their first loss of the tournament, falling 24-22, 21-16, to move one loss away from elimination. Wang won the silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing with partner Jian Tian.

"I just didn't play very well," Boss told the FIVB through an interpreter. "Ross played well but I didn't have it. The Chinese team is very strong.  They are seeded lowly because they are a new team, usually we do not play such strong teams at this stage."

Following the loss, Boss and Ross won a tight three-setter to advance to play on Saturday. The duo edged past Germany's Claudia Lehmann and Julia Sude, 19-21, 21-13, 15-9, and needs to win two matches to reach the semifinals.

The last remaining American squad, Lauren Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Ashley Ivy (Arlington, Texas) also dropped their first match of the day in the third round, falling to Karin Lundqvist and Angelica Ljungquist of Sweden, 21-19, 21-18. On the brink of elimination, Fendrick and Ivy beat Canadians Marie-Andrée Lessard and Annie Martin, 21-13, 29-27, to stay alive.

Both American teams with losses won't be reaching the semifinals however, as Boss and Ross will meet Fendrick and Ivy in the next round on Saturday. The losing team will finish the tournament in seventh place while the winner will advance to meet Brazil's Antonelli and Leão.

Branagh and Turner get a day off on Saturday before playing an opponent yet to be determined on Sunday in the semis.

For more information on the FIVB event in China, visit the FIVB beach web site at