Akers, Turner Work Their Way into Semifinals

May 22, 2009, 8:22 a.m. (ET)

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

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 22, 2009) – The U.S. beach volleyball team of Angie Akers (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Tyra Turner (Fort Myers Beach, Fla.) pulled two more upsets on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the US$190,000 Keihan/SMFG Japan Open, part of the SWATCH FIVB World Tour, in Osaka, Japan.

After two upsets on Thursday advanced them to the third round, Akers and Turner, seeded 26th, claimed a spot in the medal rounds for the first-time on Friday as the Americans are playing in their initial international beach volleyball event together. Top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil advanced to their third-straight FIVB World Tour semifinal.

The two teams will get a day off on Saturday as teams in the consolation round will battle to determine the final two semifinal teams.

Akers and Turner opened Friday by upsetting Brazil’s second-seeded Salgado sisters – Carolina Salgado and Maria Clara Salgado Rufino – defeating the duo 2-1 (13-21, 22-20, 15-10) in 48 minutes.

“We played just awful in our first set against the Salgados (Carolina and Maria Clara) this morning,” Akers, 32, told the FIVB. “We played a lot better in the second set, but the Salgados were able to tie us at 20-20 with a serve to take a lead.  We were fortunate to make two big plays at the end of the set along with playing very well in the third. This is exciting, but we still have not reached semis as the Greeks are more experienced international players than either Tyra or I."

Akers, who had never placed higher than 41st in four previous FIVB World Tour events, and Turner then posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) victory in 35 minutes over 14th-seeded Maria Tsiartsiani and Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece.

Saturday’s “day off is a blessing as I have been battling various injuries the past month,” said Turner, who reached the podium in her last two SWATCH FIVB World Tour appearances at the end of the 2008 season with Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) in Thailand (silver medal) and China (bronze). “Angie has also had several aches and pains, so we will relish a day to rest before playing twice on Sunday.”

Complete results and photos are available on the FIVB beach web site at www.fivb.org/EN/BeachVolleyball/index.asp?sm=12.