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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 17, 2011) – The U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Emily Day and Heather Hughes won their second pool play match on Monday at the Pan American Games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Also on Monday, the U.S. men’s beach volleyball team of Mark Van Zwieten (Pompano Beach, Fla.) and Andrew Fuller (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) lost a hard-fought battle to Venezuela’s Igor Hernandez and Farid Mussa, 21-19, 18-21, 16-14 in 54 minutes in their first Pan American Games pool play match at the Pan American Games.
On the women’s side, Day (Torrance, Calif.) and Hughes (Fallbrook, Calif.) defeated Maria Jose Orellana and Anna Lourdes Ramirez of Guatemala, 28-26, 20-22, 15-8 in 58 minutes to go 2-0 in pool play.
Day and Hughes led in attacks, 36-32, and in aces, 2-1. Each team had three blocks. Day led all players in kills with 20.
After the teams split the first two sets, the U.S. squad took control of the third with the score knotted at six. Day and Hughes tallied three straight points to gain some breathing room at 9-6. Guatemala rebounded to pull within two at 10-8 before Team USA closed out the match with five consecutive points for a 15-8 third-set victory.
Successful attacks by Hughes led to three of the final five points, including the match winner.
“We started going back and focusing on our side and just going back to the basics of pass, set and being aggressive on attacking,” Hughes said about the convincing final-set victory. “I think just not overthinking the game and playing our style of volleyball helped a lot.”
Day and Hughes gutted out a 28-26 opening-set win, which the U.S. clinched on its seventh set point.
“That was huge was for us. Guatemala’s a great team. They tested us; they pushed us,” Day said. “It was back and forth near the end [of the first set], and for us to pull away, that’s great. That gives us some more confidence — even though we lost game two — going into game three.”
The U.S. pair will play for first place in the pool on Tuesday when it faces Columbia’s Andrea and Claudia Galindo, who are also 2-0, at 11 a.m. CT.
In the men’s match, after the teams split the first two sets, Van Zwieten and Fuller held a 14-13 advantage in the third and served for the match. Venezuela pulled even at 14, won a lengthy rally to grab the lead and then closed out the match for a 16-14 third-set victory.
“We had a really long rally — back and forth maybe seven or eight times at 14-14 in the third — and that was pretty much the match,” Van Zwieten said. “They were able to stick with it and make a little bit better play at the end.”
The match was back-and-forth from the start. In the opener, the U.S. led 19-17 before Venezuela scored the final four points to take the first set. Van Zwieten and Fuller held a slim 13-12 lead in the second before winning five points in a six-point stretch to help even the match at one set apiece.
The third set was knotted at five, 10 and 13 before Venezuela rallied for three straight points to close the match.
“It’s just a couple points here and there. The scramble plays they were better on,” Fuller said. “The plays that were broken, they were picking them up pretty well.”
The Venezuelans held the advantage in attacks, 36-35, blocks, 6-5, and aces, 2-1.
“I thought we played well overall. We just had a little bit of trouble at the end of a couple of the games — the first set and the third set. The ones that we lost, we had leads,” Van Zwieten said. “The second game we were able to put it together, but we’re still a pretty new team and made some mistakes.”
The U.S. men will return to action Tuesday against El Salvador’s Jeovanny Ademir Medrano and David Gabriel Vargas at 5 p.m. CT.
2011 Pan American Games
Beach Volleyball Schedule
Sunday, Oct. 16
Women: Day/Hughes (USA) def. Francisca Rivas/Camila Pazlivek (CHI), 21-10, 21-7 (:30)
Monday, Oct. 17
Men: Igor Hernandez/Farid Mussa (VEN) def. Fuller/Van Zwieten (USA), 21-19, 18-21, 16-14 (:54)
Women: Day/Hughes (USA) def. Maria Jose Orellana/Anna Lourdes Ramirez (GUA), 28-26, 20-22, 15-8 (:58)
Tuesday, Oct. 18
Women: Day/Hughes (USA) vs. Andrea Carolina Galindo/Claudia Patricia Galindo (COL), 11 a.m. CDT
Men: Fuller/Van Zwieten (USA) vs. Jeovanny Ademir Medrano/David Gabriel Vargas (ESA), 5 p.m. CDT
Wednesday, Oct. 19
Men: Fuller/Van Zwieten (USA) vs. Esteban Grimalt/Marco Grimalt (CHI), 9 a.m. CDT
Thursday, Oct. 20
Women: Final, Bronze medal match
Saturday, Oct. 22
Men: Final, Bronze medal match