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24/04/2015 15:47
Finland’s Lehtonen/Lahti fend off competition at Fuzhou Open
News from the FIVB

Fuzhou, China, April 24, 2015. Riikka Lehtonen/Taru Lahti from Finland fended off the competition to enter the second round of the single elimination at the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball Fuzhou Open. The first FIVB tournament of the season also opens the Olympic qualification window for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.

In its third consecutive year, the FIVB Fuzhou Open is the first double-gender FIVB Open event of the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar with a prize purse of $150,000.

Lehtonen/Lahti have time to prepare for the knock-out phase after beating Germany’s Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude 2-0 (21-16, 21-13) in their concluding pool match.

With two wins each for Lehtonen/Lahti and Laboureur/Sude, the final match would decide the winner of Pool C. As the sun emerged through the clouds in Fuzhou, the two teams took to centre court with little to separate the two in the first set. Laboureur/Sude had a strong season together in 2014 climbing the podium at the Durban Open with silver. The two teams displayed similar determination with accurate dinks over the net from Sude and Lehtonen/Lahti’s ability to pull the ball back into play from every angle. A couple of German service errors at the start of the second put pressure on Laboureur/Sude as Lehtonen/Lahti took advantage of the situation. Close teamwork by the Finns set up for some great third touches and Lehtonen/Lahti went from strength to strength taking the win 2-0 (21-16, 21-13).

“We’re feeling pretty good because we have never beaten that couple before and of course we are coming from a difficult year. We worked a lot and have big goals and now it’s nice that we are in the shape that we can start to challenge those couples. We played well tactically and kept our tactics throughout the game and that worked out and our side-out was good, so we can just be happy about the result, but it’s not finished yet,” said Lehtonen.

“It was a good game with our good side-out and block defence. They made a lot of service mistakes which helped us,” said Lahti.

“We played them last year but I was still coming from the two knees injury and our shape was not like it is now. We had the two games that they have played here, but as Taru said they made a few more mistakes than we did so that made all the difference,” said Lehtonen.

In 2014 Lehtonen/Lahti’s best results came towards the end of the year at the Xiamen and Mangaung Opens where they finished ninth. “It’s a little different than last year because basically I didn’t have any practice behind me, we just started to play and that you can absolutely see in the game,” said Lehtonen. “For sure we will scout the other players before tomorrow because we haven’t seen so many couples so we will see more about our adversaries and then will rest and keep going day by day, game by game and ball by ball. We always search for the best, we have the kind of character that we are not satisfied with anything less than the best so that’s why we really need to focus on the moment and stay there, you cannot think too much further,” said Lehtonen.

Laboureur/Sude eventually also progressed to round two after beating fellow countrywomen Anni Schumacher/Sandra Seyfferth 2-0 (21-12, 21-10).

The Fuzhou Open is held at the purpose built venue in the city’s Mianjiang Riverside Park. China has hosted a total of 49 FIVB World Tour events and the second Chinese stop on the 2015 calendar will be the double-gender event FIVB Xiamen Open scheduled for September 22 to 27.

The gold medal teams in each gender at the FIVB Fuzhou Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500. The men’s medal matches will be held on Saturday and the women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.

Click here for further information on the FIVB Fuzhou Open

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25/04/2015 13:45:00
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24/04/2015 15:37:00
Semifinal spot for Germany’s Böckermann/Flüggen and two more European pairs at 2015 Fuzhou Open
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