COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 26, 2012) – The U.S. women’s beach volleyball team of Nicole Branagh and Lauren Fendrick has advanced to the semifinals of the Bangsaen Thailand Open, the final event on the women’s 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour.
Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Fendrick (Carlsbad, Calif.), seeded No. 7, must wait to find out their opponents for the Saturday semifinals. It could be their U.S. compatriots Jennifer Kessy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and April Ross (Costa Mesa, Calif.), whom Branagh and Fendrick upset in the third round on Friday, 21-19, 17-21, 15-11 in 1 hour.
Kessy and Ross remain alive in the consolation bracket and will play Greece’s No. 6 Maria Tsiartsiani and Vasiliki Arvaniti on Saturday. The winner of that match will play Kazakhstan’s No. 8 Irina Tsimbalova and Tatyana Mashkova for the chance to play Branagh and Fendrick in the semifinals. Brazil’s No. 5 Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas de Freitas will play in the other semifinals.
After beating Kessy and Ross, the 2012 Olympic silver medalists seeded No. 2 in Thailand, Branagh and Fendrick upset Russia’s No. 3 seeded Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova, 21-15, 18-21, 17-15 in 58 minutes.
Although Branagh and Fendrick have never competed together internationally, they say they are getting better as they continue to play.
“We complement each other well,” Branagh told the FIVB. “While playing together, we are feeling each other better and better. And there is good communication.”
April Ross complimented their U.S. teammates.
“We did not play our best, but they won because they served really well,” Ross told the FIVB. “We tried to serve as hard, but ours would go out a lot. Their attack was also very aggressive and they were hard to stop.”
After losing to Branagh and Fendrick, Kessy and Ross came back to defeat No. 11 Miller Elwin and Henriette Iatika of Vanuatu, 21-15, 21-18 in 39 minutes.
Among the other U.S. teams competing in Thailand, Emily Day (Torrance, Calif.) and Brittany Hochevar (Fowler, Colo.), seeded No. 23, won their first consolation match on Friday, defeating Norway’s No. 24 Janne Kongshavn and Ane Guro Tveit Hjortland, 21-18, 22-24, 18-16 in 1 hour, 3 minutes.
After that long match, Day and Hochevar fell to Switzerland’s No. 17 Joana Heidrich and Nina Betschart, 21-14, 14-21, 15-11 in 51 minutes and finished tied for 13th.
Heather Hughes (Fallbrook, Calif.) and Summer Ross (San Diego, Calif.) lost their first consolation match on Friday to Netherlands’ No. 21 Jantine van der Vlist and Merel Mooren, 21-18, 21-16 in 39 minutes and finished tied for 17th.
The semifinals will be played on Saturday followed by the medal matches on Sunday.
More information about the event is available on the FIVB web site.