B.J. Hoeptner Evans
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 18, 2011) – The U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Emily Day and Heather Hughes won Pool H on Tuesday with a sweep of Colombia at the Pan American Games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Meanwhile, the U.S. men’s beach volleyball team of Mark Van Zwieten (Pompano Beach, Fla.) and Andrew Fuller (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) took its first Pan Am Games victory with a 21-16, 21-12 sweep of El Salvador’s Jeovanny Ademir Medrano and David Gabriel Vargas on Tuesday in Pool B.
Day (Torrance, Calif.) and Hughes (Fallbrook, Calif.) defeated Colombia’s Andrea and Claudia Galindo, 21-19, 21-14 in 36 minutes. With the win, the U.S. pair will advance to Wednesday’s single-elimination quarterfinal round with a 3-0 record and will play Lucia Guigou and Fabiana Gomezat of Uruguay at 11 a.m. CT.
“It was definitely our goal to win our pool… and as the tournament goes on to improve every single match and get better and better,” Hughes said. “Now it’s just important to stay focused and keep improving as the playoffs start.”
Colombia held a 19-18 lead in the first set before the U.S. team ran off the final three points to take the win. Hughes converted back-to-back attack attempts, and a Colombia error at match point gave the Americans a 1-0 advantage.
That momentum carried over to set No. 2 as the U.S. reeled off the first four points on the strength of Hughes’ serve. Colombia was never able to climb closer than three points, and Day and Hughes cruised to a 21-14 win.
“In the first game we were a little shaky, so to pull that one out was good,” Day said. “Heather and her serving to start the second game were great. We just stuck with that and didn’t let them back in.”
The U.S. held a 21-19 edge in attacks and a 5-2 advantage in aces. Hughes led the American duo with 11 kills and three aces.
In the men's match, Fuller and Van Zwieten employed an aggressive game plan, which led to a 27-19 advantage in attacks and a 6-1 lead in blocks. The 6-foot-10 Fuller was responsible for all six U.S. blocks.
“Getting blocks is probably the single biggest stat other than getting a dig and putting it away,” Fuller said. “It ends the point so quickly and that, probably more than most things, burrows into hitters’ heads.”
The U.S. pair was tied with El Salvador at 15-15 in the first set when Fuller scored on a kill, then served for the next four points, including two Van Zwieten attacks and a block from Fuller, to reach set point. El Salvador had an attack to reach 16, but Fuller ended it with a kill.
“We forced them into mistakes," Van Zwieten said. "That was the game plan. It took a little bit longer than we liked, but it happened and we’re excited.”
In the second set, the teams were tied at 7-7 when Van Zwieten scored on a kill and Fuller took the serve to score three straight points, including another Van Zwieten strike and two straight Fuller blocks. El Salvador called timeout and came back to score with a kill, but the damage was done.
With the U.S. leading 13-10, Van Zwieten scored on a kill and the team scored the next four points to reach 19-10 and put the set and match out of reach.
“I give a ton of credit to our coaches, Jeff [Conover] and Brady [Compton], just for scouting for us and giving us an awesome game plan.” Fuller said. “I’d say it’s as big a win for them as it was for us.”
The U.S. men close pool play Wednesday at 10 a.m. CT against Chile’s Esteban Grimalt and Marco Grimalt. Wednesday's winner will finish as the runner-up in Pool B and advance to the single-elimination quarterfinal round, which opens Thursday.
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) def. Andrea Carolina Galindo/Claudia Patricia Galindo (COL), 21-19, 21-14 (:36)
Men: Fuller/Van Zwieten (USA) def. Jeovanny Ademir Medrano/David Gabriel Vargas (ESA), 21-16, 21-12
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