Northern Ireland Volleyball
NI Beach Squad

GB Pair Top Pool in Olympic Beach Volleyball Test Event

Great Britain’s women’s beach volleyball pair Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney defeated China’s Wang Fan/Y.Y. Ma in a 3 set thriller to secure top position in their pool. http://www.fivb.org/en/olympics/london2012/PoolsBVB.asp

The cooler conditions at the London Prepares test event didn’t concern the enthusiastic home crowds as they got behind their GB team at Horse Guards Parade.

Mullin and Dampney had to dig deep in the third set, coming from behind to set up match point at 14-13 before a controversial line call and handling decision caused the GB team to demand a protest.

“We actually saw the ball mark was out but obviously the referee thought that it touched the line on the way through,” said Dampney. “But we thought that on a ball mark the referee is not allowed to move the line like any other player isn’t, so we thought that once he moved the line we could protest the call.”

The head referee in charge of the venue did not interfere with the on court disagreement.

“He (head referee) wont come out unless there is a protest,” explained Mullin, “but players aren’t allowed to protest a judgement call. So because the ref then said it was a judgement call we weren’t allowed to protest. But we’ll definitely be checking the rules after the game.”

Today’s performance was the second nail biting match in as many days to require a tiebreak 3rd set, keeping the London crowd on the edge of their seats.

“At the end Zara played great defence getting those balls up and I think we stepped up our serving at the right time so that really helped us out.”

“I think it was a step up from yesterday, said Mullin. “They were always going to be a tough team to beat, with a big blocker and a defender that likes to move around. We sat down and said that any way we are going to get the ball on the sand, then that’s what we’re going to do, and I think we did a good job of doing that tonight.

Mullin and Dampney will have to wait for the rest of the pool matches to be played before they find out there next opposition in the single elimination rounds.

“We’re really happy, said Mullin. “I think to close out two close games like that is great for us. I think because we’ll come out first we’ll get a better draw playing a second or a third in the next round so that will give us a chance to build our momentum even more to then play a top team going into the last 8.”

Some of the world’s top teams are competing at Horse Guards Parade this week, including the 2009 World Champions Jennifer Kessy and April Ross from the USA.

“We want to play Jen and April (Kessy/Ross) from the USA. We had a really good game against them before where we lost 16-14 in a match like this one, so we really want to play them again hopefully beat them this time. Either of the Brazilian teams too. We haven’t played them this year on the circuit so we’d like to play them.”

The second GB team of Lucy Boulton and Denise Johns will play Brazilian duo Vivian/Lima at 8:10pm in their final pool game. A win from the girls will also put them top of their group going into the elimination rounds.

Lucy BoultonGreat Britain beach volleyball pair Lucy Boulton and Denise Johns tasted defeat for the first time in three matches at the London Prepares test event as they were beaten 17-21, 10-21 by the outstanding Vivian and Lima from Brazil.

Despite the defeat Boulton and Johns progress into tomorrow’s last 16 knockout round as the second placed pairing in their group after recording straight sets victories over Canada and USA in their first two matches.

A slow start saw the British pair fall 9-3 down in the first set. A stirring comeback followed, including a series of powerful spikes from Boulton which saw GB close the gap to three points, but they left themselves with too much to do as Brazil used their experience to close out the first set 17-21.

In the second set the beach volleyball heavyweights from Brazil were simply too hot to handle under the Horse Guards Parade floodlights as they ran out convincing 10-21 winners.

Boulton said: “The Brazilian girls are a fantastic team and strong on the World Tour, so we knew this was going to be our toughest game. On the night they were the better team, Lima especially made some fantastic digs and they deserved to win. We’re looking to play better again tomorrow and get back to winning ways.”

Johns said: “We’re still feeling pretty good overall. I wish we’d played a little better against the Brazilians, but they’re a tough team and they played great. We created a lot of opportunities from our defence but didn’t manage to convert enough of them, so that’s our goal going forward. We made some errors tonight, which is unfortunate, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll turn up fresh and ready to go.”

Earlier in the day Britain’s Shuana Mullin and Zara Dampney secured their third straight victory and claimed top position in their pool with a thrilling three set victory over Wang and Y.Y Ma of China.

Both pairs are now eagerly awaiting the draw for the knockout round of 16 which takes place at 22:30 tonight.

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