China Takes First in Moscow Beach Volleyball Tournament

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This year’s Beach Volleyball Grand Slam in Moscow, Russia came with quite a few surprises that even close followers of the sport could not have predicted. Most notably, the Chinese dominated in a way that they never have before, with both the men’s and women’s Chinese teams taking first place in their respective competitions.

On the women’s side, the eighth-ranked Xi Zhang and Chen Xue, whom many of us might remember from their bronze medal run in the 2008 Beijing Olympic, defeated the top-ranked American duo, April Ross and Jen Kessy, in two sets. This is the sixth world championship for the Chinese team, but they weren’t expected to go all the way this time.

To get to this position, both duos had to first get through formidable Brazilian teams. Juliana Filsberta Silva and Larissa and Larissa Franca fell to the Chinese in the semifinals, while Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes were defeated by the powerful U.S. duo.

Two other U.S. pairs also performed well. Misty May-Treanor and Nicole Branagh tied for fifth with Angie Akers and Tyra Turner.

In the men’s event, the well-ranked Chinese duo of Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu followed their female compatriots by besting Americans Todd Roger and Phil Dalhausser in the final. The match was very tight and quite competitive, with the American men hanging tough until the bitter end. The three sets ended with scores of 21-17, 17-21, and 17-15.

For the third place spot, Germans Julius Bring and Jonas Reckermann bested the American duo of Casey Jennings and Brad Keenan in two sets. For the first time this year, no Brazilian teams made it into the final four spots in the men’s competition.

After these hard-fought matches, beach volleyballers only have a short time to rest, as there are still five months left in the proper beach volleyball season. Up next is the big event in Norway, after which the competitors will have a nearly unbroken streak of competitions in Switzerland, France, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, China, and Thailand.

As of this month, Kessy and Ross are still the top-ranked duo on the women’s side, followed by the two Brazilian teams and the Chinese. Similarly on the men’s side, Rogers and Dalhausser still sit in the top spot by a margin that other teams are going to be hard-pressed to overcome. Following the Americas are the Brazilian Alison-Emanuel Duo, followed by the Germans and the Spanish.

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